Seeming to be on the spree of imposing rigorous rules, the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) has now come up with another rule of imposing a fine of Rs. 500 for tourists who show up 15 minutes late from the given time.
This rule comes immediately after the recent rule of cell phone ban.
However, this new rule does not have the authorisation of the statutory local advisory committee (LAC) yet in the series of ecotourism decisions which were taken by TATR. The reserve’s management implemented the rule of following the minute-to-minute schedule from the 1st of January.
Using an example to explain the new schedule, say the gates open at 6.30am and 2pm in the month of January, February, November and December. Vehicles arriving until 6.45am and 2.15pm respectively will not pay any fine. The gates will then be closed for five minutes i.e. until 6.50am and 2.20pm. Any vehicles which arrive after this time till 7am and 2:30pm will be have to shell out Rs. 500, after which they will be allowed entry. In the months of May and June, the gates will open at 5.30am and 3pm and close at 6am and 3.30pm. For the remaining months of March, April and October, the gates will be open from 6am and 2.30pm and close at 6.30am and 3pm, respectively. Canter for the safari will be kept on hold for 15 minutes only.
Speaking to TOI, engineer and regular visitor to Tadoba, Aditya Joshi said, “Earlier, there was a margin of one hour for tourists to reach the gate. Now, it has been reduced to 15 minutes. This is nothing but taxing tourists, who are already paying through the nose. No other reserves have such quirky rules. Instead, the management should lay stress on better toilets and facilities for tourists at the gate.”
The reason behind introducing the rule is that when tourists reach the start point late, the drivers have to speed up the safari vehicles and rush through the safari in the given span of time. It disturbs the wildlife and is inconvenient for other tourists who have reached on time. Canter tourist also show up late thus delaying the safari.
Although tourist such as Saurabh Sukhdeve counter saying, “There is no logic in the new move. The drivers and guides are controlled by the park management and tourists should not be targeted. Otherwise also, drivers speed up vehicles at 80 kmph whenever they are intimated about tiger sightings by their colleagues or when they get late while returning. The management should rather focus on enforcement of existing rules.”
Conservationist Udayan Patil says, “Even if tourists arrive late, they will be the sufferers because exit time will be the same for all. So, why unnecessary tax them? The officials should consider delay due to unforeseen circumstances like vehicle snags, traffic disruptions, delayed flights etc.”
“Tourists entering through Kolara and Navegaon gates are worst sufferers as they have to pass through rugged patches and many diversions due to road construction activity for last one year. In Navegaon, the core gate is 8km away from the buffer gate,” said Patil.
LAC members Prakash Kamde and Yogesh Dudhpachare condemned the skewed decision of TATR. “The LAC is a statutory body constituted after Supreme Court directions, but it was not taken into confidence while banning cell phones, Gypsy fare hike, charging fee for even small cameras and imposing fine on latecomers. We have orally intimated about it to the field director NR Praveen. No LAC meeting has been held since February 2016,” they said.
Praveen says, “A little discipline can make the safari experience enjoyable and safe for fellow tourists as well as animals. We have not fined any tourists in last two days. It is an attempt to create awareness. We have not fined anyone till now.”
Information source: timesofindia
Title image source: explara