NTCA pressure prompts Bengal govt to close tiger reserves for tourists once a week

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NTCA pressure prompts Bengal govt to close tiger reserves for tourists once a week

Succumbing to the pressure from the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), the West Bengal government has ordered no tourist entry in the globally- famous Sundarbans Tiger Reserve (STR) scattered over South 24 Parganas and North 24 Parganas districts and Buxa Tiger Reserve (BTR) in Alipurduar district once a week effective from next month.
 

Kolkata: Succumbing to the pressure from the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), the West Bengal government has ordered no tourist entry in the globally- famous Sundarbans Tiger Reserve (STR) scattered over South 24 Parganas and North 24 Parganas districts and Buxa Tiger Reserve (BTR) in Alipurduar district once a week effective from next month.

According to a notification issued by the state forest department late Tuesday evening, effective April 1, STR and BTR will remain closed for tourists on every Tuesday. However, those residing at the forest- slums within the reserve forest zone will have free entry and exit as usual.

A state forest department official said that the decision has been taken by the state government following a strict order from the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) on this count. He added that although the policy of “no tourist entry once a week” was applicable in all tiger reserves nationally, STR and BTR had been continuing to operate daily.

“Recently, it came to the notice of the NTCA and they asked the state forest department to strictly follow the policy that is followed nationally. Finally, the state government has issued a notification ordering no tourist entry in these two tiger reserves on every Tuesday starting from next month,” he said.

According to BTR’s field director Apurba Sen, the decision to close the forest reserve once a week is aimed at giving relief to the animals residing there from the disturbance that happens due to tourist entry though safari jeeps and other vehicles.

“We will abide by the NTCA prescribed norms. However, the order will not impact the lives of those residing in the forest- slums within the tiger reserve zone. It will also not impact the non- tourist activities within the zone,” he added.

Similarly, in case of STR, non- tourism activities like fishing, collection of honey and woods will not be impacted by the order.

Meanwhile, the state forest department sources said that although the state government was keen on implementing the NTC directive long time back, somehow it could not implement it because of the pressure from the tourism sector and those involved with the sector for their livelihoods.

“Already fillers have started coming from the private tourism operators to reconsider the decision,” a state forest department official said.

 


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