DEHRADUN: Corbett and Rajaji reserves in Uttarakhand are allegedly not following National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) guidelines stipulating that tourism revenue earned from the protected areas is spent entirely on development and welfare of local people.
Despite knowing the NTCA rule, the state forest department in March issued an order stating that the entire revenue generated through eco-tourism from Corbett and Rajaji will go to Uttarakhand.
The discrepancy was first flagged off by Magsaysay award winner and the then officiating director of Corbett Tiger Reserve, Sanjiv Chaturvedi, in June when he wrote about it to senior forest officials. Action is yet to be taken in this matter.
Under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, the NTCA is authorised to frame guidelines for conservation efforts at tiger reserves in India.The Corbett Tiger Reserve (CTR) earned `9.1 cr (2015-16), `9.6 cr (2016-17), `8.7 cr (2017-18) and `8.5 cr (2018-19) from wildlife tourism.
Though a foundation was established for Corbett in 2010 to follow the NTCA rule, the government decided the body would get only 20 per cent of revenue while the rest remained in state coffers.
Wildlife conservationist AG Ansari pointed out that taking away revenue from the reserves is illegal and hampers conservation efforts. “The NTCA guidelines were meant to avoid alienation of local population as many restrictions are imposed when the tiger reserve comes into existence.”
But Uttarakhand principal chief conservator of forest Jairaj sought to strike a balance while commenting on the matter. “There is a point of view from the government that if all departments decide to keep their revenue, how will it function. But the (NTCA) law says otherwise. This is contradictory. The matter is being looked into,” he said.