New Delhi: The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has red-flagged the Madhya Pradesh government's move to increase tourism activities inside the state's tiger reserves in violation of the existing guidelines and asked it to take corrective steps.
This follows a complaint by Bhopal-based wildlife activist Ajay Dubey who has alleged that the state government has increased the tourism carrying capacity of the reserves by allowing in more numbers of vehicles carrying visitors.
He has also claimed that it was being done without making necessary changes in tiger conservation and eco-tourism plans.
Following the complaint, the NTCA has issued a strict missive to the chief wildlife warden of the state and heads of all tiger reserves to refrain from increasing the carrying capacity for tourism, according to the letter shared with Dubey by the NTCA.
The NTCA has also asked them to take necessary corrective steps and inform it about the action taken in this regard.
Dubey alleged in his complaint that Madhya Pradesh's principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife) had illegally raised the tourism carrying capacity of all the tiger reserves in the state in October 2018.
Based on an earlier complaint by Dubey, the NTCA had in December asked the state forest department to reverse its order.
However, this directive was not adhered to, the wildlife activist said.
After this, Dubey filed a complaint with the tiger conservation authority.
In its latest communique, the NTCA said the tourism carrying capacity should not be increased in Madhya Pradesh tiger reserves.
"There are large scale irregularities in carrying out tourism activities inside the tiger reserves. We want the state government to immediately check such activities which are being done in connivance with some big tour operators," claimed Dubey, on whose petition the Supreme Court had in 2012 asked the Centre to frame guidelines to check tourism inside tiger reserves.
According to a latest report by the Environment Ministry, India has 2,967 tigers, with 526 of them in Madhya Pradesh alone — the highest in the country.
There are six tiger reserves in Madhya Pradesh — Kanha, Bandhavgarh, Panna, Satpura, Sanjay-Dubri and Pench.