BHUBANESWAR : The Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR) has proposed a complete restriction on private tourist vehicles in the tiger habitat in the next three years.
In its Tiger Conservation Plan, submitted to the Centre, the STR management has suggested a phase-wise restriction on indiscriminate entry of tourists vehicles. In its place, a dedicated fleet of vehicles of uniform colour, owned and operated by locals would be introduced.
The conservation plan has given itself three years to start the system as the authorities will have to collaborate with locals to encourage them to acquire vehicles and operate them.
Field Director Anup Kumar Nayak said the plan primarily aims at giving locals the ownership besides regulating traffic and controlling pollution in the tiger park. It will also ensure that the revenue generated from eco-tourism flows back to the community. Other tiger reserves in the country have adopted a similar system under which only vehicles having pollution-free certificates and uniform colour are allowed to enter. “However, this requires planning since the local community is not financially well-off and acquiring vehicles will not be easy for them. So we propose to assist them with institutional arrangement,” Nayak said.
The move, though, may not go down well with local operators, who presently control the tour operations as they fleece the foreign as well as Bengali tourists thronging STR.
Since 1970s, private tourists vehicles are allowed in the tiger reserve As part of the plan, STR is working on a system under which parking arenas will be created at entry points where the tourists will have facilities to park their vehicles. These parking areas will be owned by the locals.
Similarly, tourists will have options - either online or in person - to choose vehicles to enter the tiger habitat.
To work towards the goal, the STR management has launched package-based tours under which tourists can choose from a host of offers - from one-day tour to two-day-one-night tours. The tariff of the packages ranges from `4,000 to `12,000. The bookings for the tours can be done over phone or online.
A provision of online transfer of funds to the Similipal Conservation Foundation has also been made. Nayak said the package tours are a beginning towards regulation of tourism inside the tiger reserve.
Once the National Tiger Conservation Authority approves the conservation plan, the STR will work on it, he added.