Friday, 05 April 2013 | Girish Sharma | Bhopal
Despite several efforts by the Forest department to conserve tigers, no feline has been sighted in the Satpura tiger reserve in the past several years. Locals claim that heavy inflow of tourists in the region is the main reason behind this.
A prominent industrialist had recently visited a tiger reserve in the State and expressed disappointment over not having sighted a tiger.
A local resident, working in a hotel, said that in July last year, following directives of the Supreme Court, tourism was banned in Pachmarhi and wild animals were seen moving in core forest areas, particularly on way to Beefall and Dhoopgarh areas. However, only bisons, bears and deer were sighted.
The inflow of tourists in the core forest areas of Pachmarhi is so huge that one feels suffocated. There is no peace left in the forests of Pachmarhi. The Forest department is busy only in charging Rs 20 each person on his visit to the core forest areas. Each group of persons or families needs to pay for one guide as well and it is mandatory to hire Gypsy vehicles for reaching the spots.
As for facilities provided to the tourists, the Forest department provides none.
The State government has to submit to it the tourism plan in core forest areas by April 16, as per the directives of the apex court. Meanwhile, an unusual calm prevails in Pachmarhi town regarding the continuance of tourism there. In October, last year, the Supreme Court had lifted ban on tourism and asked the States to follow the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) guidelines that states that only 20 per cent of the core forest areas could be allowed for tourism. Locals feel if tourism is stopped in core forest areas, only four important points would be left for tourists to visit.