The revised rules and procedures designed for ecotourism and advised by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) on October 15, 2012, recommends conservation fee on resorts on the basis of capacity of number of beds. The state move comes in wake of NTCA directives. The tourists who intend to stay in the tiger resorts will have to pay more, and this is evident. The Maharashtra state government is all set to issue the GR to all tiger reserves within its area.Until now, the tiger reserves functioning in Maharashtra used to reap huge profits as the result of tiger tourism and seldom did share the profits by paying back in the state government treasury. Most part of earning was accrued by the tiger resorts management after paying little to the onsite staff.
The credible sources at tiger reserves further pointed that community and home stays run by local villagers will not be affected by the new state government ruling. On the contrary, well equipped private resorts and facilities with room capacity of 10 will be charged INR 500 per room per month and those with the facilities of more than 10 rooms will give out INR 750. The fee needs to be deposited in the bank account of tiger conservation foundation on quarterly basis.
SWH Naqvi, principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife), Maharashtra, pointed out, “State government is considering the matter on priority basis and a formal GR is on the anvil.” Stating further, Mr. Naqvi told, “The fund which comes up as the result of increase in the tiger resort fee will be reserved to address local livelihood development, human-wildlife conflict management and conservation through eco-development. It will not go to the state exchequer as quantified by the NTCA.”
The latest NTCA regulations direct the state government to announce local advisory committees (LACs) for four tiger reserves - Tadoba, Pench, Melghat and Sahyadri. The LAC will be supervised by divisional commissioner with field directors working as member-secretary. LAC term will be of two years.
Each of LAC will comprise 20 members including district collectors, deputy conservators, honorary wildlife wardens, tribal and tourism department officials, subdivisional officer (SDO), two panchayatsamiti members, wildlife experts, local NGOs, and environmentalists.The LAC will guide the state government on devising and effective execution of the ecotourism program. The field directors from individual LACs will be directed to prepare tourism plan for the core areas of reserves. This would also cover the 200 meters area on either side of the visitors’ routes.
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