News Update: 06-July-2018
After the order of the Supreme Court to ban the commercial use of the forest rest houses in the reserve forests, the government of Uttarakhand will be going to close the night stay facility for the tourist in the Corbett National Park and the Rajaji National Park, according to the sources in the forest department of Uttarakhand. After the complete implementation of the court order, the rest houses inside these National Parks cannot remain available for the tourists to make a booking for the night stay.
Till now, two of the National Parks of Uttarakhand – the Corbett National Park and the Rajaji National Park are allowing the night stay facility for the tourists in a few of their forest rest houses. Now, the forest department of Uttarakhand has to shut down any tourism activities in these forest rest houses as per the Supreme Court order that disallows any kind of the commercial activity in the forest rest houses which are for the forest officers to stay and deliver their duties properly.
The Supreme Court of India in an order on Thursday had barred the forest rest houses across India for any type of commercial use, including the renting of rooms in the forest rest houses for tourism. The apex court has issued the guidelines after consulting the central government and other related organizations. According to the Court, the forest guest houses situated in the reserved and protected forests and National Parks are meant for the camping and staying of forest officials so that they can discharge their duties easily regarding forest protection and wildlife conservation. The forest rest houses should be used only for the purpose of proper management of forests and wildlife conservation and nothing else.
The guidelines issued by the apex court said, “Forest Rest Houses or Inspection Bungalows located within the forest area including the protected areas shall not be transferred to private and commercial entities in the name of public-private partnership or by whatever name such an arrangement is called, for promotion of any form of tourism including ecotourism.” As per a senior forest officer, “When SC has banned intervention based on private partnership then even commercial activity done by the forest department will also be deemed illegal in the forest rest houses.”
The Supreme Court has also given forest departments of the related state the absolute management rights over forest rest houses, taking away any type of interference of the district administration. The district officials may stay at the forest rest houses but cannot interfere in the management. The principal chief conservator of forest and the head of forest force, Jai Raj said, “I stand with the decision of the Supreme Court and have been against of night stays in protected areas. It’s a welcoming decision.”