New Delhi, Aug 22: Extending the ban on tourism activities in the core areas of tiger reserves, the Supreme Court on Wednesday pulled up the Centre for the depleting population of the wild cats in the country.
A bench of justices A.K. Patnaik and Swatanter Kumar put some probing questions to the Centre as it made a fresh plea for review of the court's July 24, 2012 order banning tourism in core areas of tiger reserves.
“You are trying to make up. You have done it (guidelines) after due deliberation. We want to know on what basis you want to do it? What is the data available?
“What are you going to do to save tigers? Earlier it was 13,000, now it has come down to 1,200. You are more worried about the commercial activities,” the bench told the Centre's counsel Waseem Ahmed Kadiri.
The court made the observation after the Centre made a mention of its affidavits filed in the court for permission to review its earlier guidelines for tiger conservation.
The court on July 24, 2012 had imposed an interim ban on tourism in core areas of tiger reserves on the basis of the same guidelines. The ban extended on Wednesday would remain in place at least till next hearing on August 29, 2012.
“What have you done for the tiger project? What about the core areas you have promised to take steps for? The Union of India has not done anything except filling affidavits. Why did you initially recommend the ban,” the court asked the counsel.
The court later while ordering that its interim ban order would continue posted the matter for further hearing to August 29, 2012.
In its affidavit, the Centre had contended that states have expressed concern that many local people depend on tourism for their livelihood and banning tourism would result in loss of such income leading to discontent, which in turn may become a threat to wildlife and forests.
The additional affidavit jointly filed by the National Tiger Conservation Authority and the Ministry of Environment and Forests said the earlier guidelines framed by it on the basis of which the apex court had imposed the interim ban needs to be reviewed.