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Tiger safaris in Jim Corbett national park banned in these zones. Check details

The Supreme Court on Wednesday banned tiger safaris  in Jim Corbett national park within core areas of reserve forests, limiting it to peripheral and buffer zones.  The court was hearing a petition filed by environment activist and lawyer Gaurav Bansal that challenged Uttarakhand government’s proposal to have a tiger safari, a specialised zoo with caged animals, at the national park.

“It is clear that national wildlife conservation plan recognises need for wildlife conservation. We are citing a quote from Mahabharat, forest perishes without the tiger and thus the forest should protect all the tigers,” the apex court said in a judgement. 

It is clear that the national plan also recognises wildlife protection beyond the protected areas, the top court added.  The government of Uttarakhand had earlier allowed safaris in core areas for some VVIPs. 

Supreme court in its order said the “unholy political-bureaucrat nexus caused heavy damage to forest and environment and said state must estimate the cost of damage and recover it from those guilty of causing damage to ecology”.

The court has asked CBI, which is probing the case, to submit a status report within three months. 

The SC came down heavily on former Uttarakhand forest minister Harak Singh Rawat and DFO Kishan Chand for causing havoc to Corbett Tiger Reserve by allowing felling of thousands of trees. Slamming the state machinery, the court said “It is clear beyond doubt that the then forest minister had considered themselves as beyond law and it shows how Kishan Chand had thrown the public trust doctrine to the wind and this shows how politicians and bureaucrats take law into their own hands.”

“We are amazed at the audacity of the forest minister to have committed this. We are sure many others are involved, since CBI is probing this we are not saying anything more,” the top court said. 

The MoEF has been directed to constitute a committee of representative of NTCA, MoEF CEC officer not below rank of Jt Secy and wildlife authority to identify officers who are liable and the cost shall be recovered from them. “Cost to be exclusively used for restoration of damage,” the court said.

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