The Uttarakhand government has announced three new eco-tourism zones on the fringes of the Corbett Tiger Reserve, just a month after the Supreme Court’s approval for night stays at forest rest houses near the Reserve once again.
A division bench of the Uttarakhand High Court had in August this year taken the view that ‘no tourist should be permitted to stay overnight in national parks, protected forests and reserve forests in order to protect wildlife.” The HC had also restricted the number of vehicles that entered the Reserve to 100 per day.
However, the SC in October stayed the HC’s decision. A month later, the gates of the Dhikala zone opened its gates and rest houses around Corbett began taking reservations.
Before the SC order, disgruntled jeep owners in the Dhikala zone had clamed that wildlife enthusiasts and Corbett regulars from the National Capital Region (NCR) had begun to frequent the Ranthambore National Park instead of Corbett, due to the HC ban.
Forest minister Harak Singh Rawat on Sunday announced that three new eco-tourism zones just outside the Corbett Reserve will be located at Pawalgarh, Nihal and Sandani. Temporary resthouses will be built, so that they can be easily dismantled should more stringend legislation come in.
The rest-houses will have rainwater harvesting facilities to reduce pressure on local resources and solar-lit fencing to keep animals away, Rawat said. Bookings will commence for stays from January onwards. The forest minister said that the three new zones will boost tourism and provide employment to locals too.
Home to more than 200 tigers (All India Tiger Estimation 2014) and spread over an area of 1288.31 square kilometers,Corbett is one of the most loved tourist destinations of the state. Dhikala and Bijrani are the most popular of the existing six eco-tourism zones and Corbett receives more than 300,000 tourists every year.