DEHRADUN: Jhirna and Dhela zone of Corbett Tiger Reserve has been closed for tourists over protests by local residents on the issue of inclusion of villages in the buffer zone in the eco-sensitive zone.
The locals alleged that the move is a sign of arrogance and ignorance of locals who are deprived of everything.
Ramesh Kumar, a resident of Dhela village in the CTR region said, "Eco-sensitive zone will put additional restrictions on us. We are already being a number of restrictions. We are not enemy of wildlife but the government is treating us like one."
Tourists who have already booked their day safari and stay are allowed but no new online bookings are open for now. CTR administration said the move is precautionary.
Rahul, director of the CTR said, "The new online booking in Dhela and Jhirna zones have been shut down as a precautionary move. The issue is sensitive one and we are trying to get it solved as soon as possible."
The state government is already in alleged violation of NTCA guidelines which says revenue generated through eco-tourism in the reserve should go to the foundation and spent exclusively on welfare of local people but the money directly goes to the state government.
Controller and Auditor General of India in its audit in July 2019 has stated that tiger conservation in Corbett Tiger Reserve is affected adversely b
At present, CTR houses around 250 adult tigers while RTR is estimated to have 40 adult tigers.
The audit report of the CAG points out non-submission of money in the foundation earned from tourism activities in the reserve.
The audit report explicitly stated that due to this violation, the amount of Rs 47.58 crore from the duration of the financial year 2010-11 to 2017-18 was not deposited to the foundation and went to state government instead.
Under Section 38 O (c) of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, NTCA is authorized to frame guidelines for conservation efforts for any tiger reserve in the country.
The guidelines framed by NTCA mention that the revenue collected from eco-tourism in the tiger reserve will be spent for the welfare of local people and will not go to state government.
In the case of CTR, a separate foundation was established for the very purpose in 2010. Later, it was decided that the foundation will get only 20 per cent of tourism revenue while 80 per cent would go to state government.