Stepping in to conserve the big cat, the Supreme Court has directed that there shall be no tourism activity in any of the core zones of tiger reserves across the country. A Bench of Justices Swatanter Kumar and Ibrahim Kalifulla also warned of contempt proceedings and imposition of exemplary costs on states which failed to notify the buffer zones in their respective tiger reserves. “We make it clear that till final directions are issued by this court, the core zones or core areas in the tiger reserves will not be used for tourism,” the Bench said in its order. The apex court was also furious that several states despite its earlier directions of April 4, 2012 and July 10, 2012 had failed to notify the buffer zones in their respective reserves and warned that if they failed to comply within three weeks the defaulting states shall be saddled with a cost of Rs 50,000 each, recoverable from the Principal Secretary, Forest of the state concerned. The buffer zones constitute the fringe areas of tiger reserves up to a distance of 10 km. The apex court also imposed a cost of Rs 10,000 each on Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Maharashtra and Jharkhand for not complying with its directions.
The court was hearing a PIL filed by conservationist Ajay Dubey demanding removal of commercial tourism activities from core or critical tiger habitats in the tiger reserves. It has been alleged in the PIL that in violation of the conservation norms, authorities in various states had permitted large-scale construction of hotels, resorts and tourism projects, thereby gravely disturbing wildlife activities.