Kerala suspends two eco-tourism projects in Periyar park

Kerala government has suspended Tiger Trail and Jungle Patrol schemes at the Periyar National Park.

Updated: Aug 15, 2010, 13:08 PM IST

New Delhi: Kerala government has suspended two of its eco-tourism projects -- Tiger Trail and Jungle Patrol -- at the Periyar National Park in Thekkady in the wake of the controversy over Madhya Pradesh`s proposed "Patrolling the Tiger Land" scheme.

Senior officials from the Kerala Wildlife Department said they have put on hold the two eco-tourism projects and has sought clarification from the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) in this regard.

"We allow tourists to patrol with forests guards only in fringes of the sanctuary in Thekkady district and not deep inside core zone as proposed by the Madhya Pradesh government," a senior official told a news agency.

"We have sought clarification from the National Tiger Conservation Authority NTCA) in the matter. Then only we will proceed with the projects. We are open to dropping the schemes if we find them in violation of the law," the official said.

The moves comes after the Environment Ministry took objection to Madhya Pradesh government`s decision to launch a novel scheme `Patrolling the Tiger Land` from October to attract the tourists.

It aims to generate revenue by virtually throwing open the national park to the tourists who can trek with the forest guards to have a peep in the wildlife world.

The Kerala officials said they have sent a detailed report about the schemes being implemented in the Perriyar reserve over the years which are hugely popular among the tourists, aimed towards wildlife conservation and community welfare.

Tiger trail and Jungle Patrol are conducted by a team of poachers-turned-protectors of the forests having an intimate knowledge of the forest terrain.

Normally 20 to 35 kms of trekking distance is covered, depending on the route chosen which is mainly in the buffer or fringes of the parks near to the villages.

Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh has already written to the state Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan to scrap the scheme terming it "anti-wildlife." However, Madhya Pradesh seems to be in no mood to
withdraw the scheme as Chief Wildlife Warden HS pabla said, "We will talk to the NTCA officials in this regard. The scheme will be implemented only after keeping in view all security concerns."