The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has rejected the Madhya Pradesh government's move to increase tourism activities inside its famous Kanha tiger reserve, according to an official order.
The directive follows a complaint by Bhopal-based wildlife activist Ajay Dubey who has alleged that the state government was trying to increase tourism carrying capacity of its reserves by allowing in more numbers of vehicles carrying visitors.
"The proposal for amending tourism plan of the Kanha tiger reserve is not concurred with in light of findings of a committee constituted to inquire into the purpose...," said the NTCA letter, which was shared with Dubey.
It said, as the existing occupancy itself is not utilised to its capacity, rationale for the proposal is not justified.
The proposal is not in lines with the NTCA guidelines issued in 2012, which prescribe restricting tourism to present usage and gradually phasing it out of the core area, the authority said.
The NTCA recommended that the enhanced vehicular carrying capacity be restored immediately to 140 vehicles by the Madhya Pradesh government.
Dubey, in his complaint, had alleged that the Madhya Pradesh forest department illegally raised the tourism carrying capacity of all the tiger reserves in violation of the NTCA guidelines.
"Tiger reserves must be free from large scale tourism activities that may have adverse impact on the big cats," said 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.
Kanha National Park is located in Mandla district of Madhya Pradesh, around 400 kms from the state capital Bhopal.
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