One decision, too many ???! :-

Posted by: Sameer K S on

July 24, 2012, can be said to be a red letter day for various conservation efforts within the country, not simply because it is regarding, the pride of the nation, our national animal ,"The Tiger"..! This because on this day the countries highest judicial organ spelled out it's stiff stance on what reverence it gives to it's national animal and it's consequent repercussions.

The supreme court of India, bench comprising of justices Swatanter Kumar and F M I Kalifullah came out with a unanimous decision to ban all kinds of tourism activities within the core areas of all the 41 tiger reserves in the country. A decision many would call, not so wise! This order one must say came about on a PIL filed by Bhopal based environment activist Ajay Dubey.

This decision by the court read straight on seems to suggest that the supreme court has taken a decision that many hardline conservationists suggest should have come long time back :- "The time for co-existence of the man and the beast has far surpassed it's prime"! The only way to save the tiger and the wildlife of the country would be to keep humans out of it.

This is where the liberals disagree.
Many would say, man has become irrepressible for the survival of the Tiger and this fact simply cannot be sidelined.
The latest decision by the supreme court, many say lacks substance. The issues to be addressed are far too many and complex. For instance, the revenue (for conservation efforts) and employment generated (for local communities) by the tourism industry would be lost forever. Then there is the question of independent monitoring and authority, obviously one would not want a Sariska or a Panna happening again where the STATE (forest department) was all gaga over number of tigers present in the reserve, when there where none left. Checks and balances are very much a part of democratic setup. Moreover, there seems to be no clarity with respect to the categorization of core and buffer areas within the reserves. The wildlife (protection) act 1972 stipulates the states to notify the core and buffer area of tiger reserves, but not much has been forthcoming from the states in this respect. Several states like Karnataka (state with the highest population of tigers) have even gone on to declare entire tiger reserves within the sate as core areas.

However, there does seem to be some consensus on the issue of regulating tourist inflow in tiger reserves and establishing a contiguous stretch of forests for their safe being. As Dr Ullas Karanth has stated, "Care should be taken to ensure that non commercial and educative values of nature tourism and public support to conservation they generate are not lost sight of".

The supreme court has put onus on the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) to set the guidelines before taking any further decisions on the issue. All in all, a stage has been set for some serious discussions and long lasting decisions to be made for the well being of the KING !