The Supreme Court on Wednesday extended the ban on tourism activities in core areas of tiger reserves and pulled up the Centre for the depleting numbers of the wild cats in the country.
A bench comprising Justice A K Patnaik and Justice Swatanter Kumar put some searching questions to the Centre as it made a fresh request for review of the court’s July 24, 2012 order banning tourism in core areas of tiger reserves. “You are trying to make up. You have done it (guidelines) after due deliberation. We want to know on what basis you want to do it? What is the data available?” the bench asked Waseem Ahmed Kadiri, appearing for the Centre.
“What are you going to do to save tigers? Earlier their number was 13,000. Now it has come down to 1,200. You are more worried about the commercial activities,” the bench told Kadiri.
The observation came after Kadri referred to the affidavit filed in the court seeking permission to review the earlier guidelines on tiger conservation. It was on July 24 that the apex court had imposed an interim ban on tourism in core areas of tiger reserves on the basis of the guidelines framed. The ban extended on Wednesday would remain in place till the next date of hearing - August 29, 2012.
“What have you done for the tiger project? What about the core areas you have promised to take steps for? The Union of India has not done anything except filing affidavits. Why did you initially recommend the ban,” the bench asked Kadri.
In its affidavit filed on Tuesday, the Centre had said States expressed concern that local people depended on tourism for their livelihood and banning it would result in loss of income leading to discontentment, which in turn may become a threat to wildlife and forests.