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“It is not right in God’s sight to obey men rather than God.”

Foresters, Tourism Corporation happy; say SC vindicates their stand

BHOPAL: The lifting of interim ban on tourism activities in the core tiger reserve areas by the Supreme Court has been welcomed by the forest department as well as the tourism department of the state. The decision has also been hailed by the persons who earn livelihood through tourism in the state.

Principal chief conservator of forest (wildlife) and chief wildlife warden Dr PK Shukla said the state government was against the ban and it had also submitted an affidavit in the court in this regard. Since tourism and other commercial activities in the core areas are allowed in accordance with the guidelines, the state government was anticipating a positive decision in this regard. ‘The department will ensure that the tourism activities are allowed strictly in accordance with the guidelines issued by NTCA,’ he added.

Managing Director of MP Tourism Corporation acknowledged that the interim ban on tourism activities caused a loss to the department but the loss could not be calculated immediately. However he did not comment on the decision of the apex court since he had not read the decision.

Among other tourism attractions in the state Pachmarhi is said to be the goldmine of tourism. There is no other source of livelihood except tourism in Pachmarhi which falls in the core area of Satpura Tiger Reserve.

The ban by the Supreme Court had created crisis of livelihood for thousands of people dependent on tourism.  According to tourism department as many as 910151 tourists (domestic & foreign) had visited Pachmarhi alone in 2011.  According to sources 8500 people including taxi drivers, guides, photographers, employees were earning livelihood through tourism in Pachmarhi. This excludes the hotel owners and local shopkeepers. These people faced crisis due to restrictions laid by the apex court. 

Apart from Pachmarhi, the other tiger reserves attract tourists from India and abroad. In Bandhavgarh 93403 domestic tourists and 32800 foreign tourists visited in 2011. In Kanha 140990 domestic and 24457 foreign tourists, in Pench 61687 domestic and 5581 foreign tourists and in Panna 92484 domestic and 15068 foreign tourists had visited in 2011.

A bench of Justice AK Patnaik and Justice Swatanter Kumar on Tuesday gave the green signal for resumption of tourism activities, modifying its July 24 order by which it had banned all tourist activities in the core areas of tiger reserves on a PIL filed by conservationist Ajay Dubey.