Private Tour Operator Vehicles Banned in Karnataka’s Protected Areas

Private resorts in Bandipur
Ramki Sreenivasan
Only state-owned Jungle Lodges and Resorts will be operating vehicles in sanctuaries and national parks.

From September 1st, only state-owned Jungle Lodges and Resorts (JLR) will be permitted to operate in sanctuaries and national parks. This was based on the conclusion that the current process for granting permission to tour operators was intransparent and discriminatory. Jungle Lodges and Resorts stated that it was able to meet this demand. It was also decided that JLR would reserve 50 percent of the vehicles for its own guests and the other 50 percent for guests from other resorts.

A meeting of the State Board for Wildlife (SBW), chaired by the chief minister on August 11, also decided that private vehicles operating in different tourism zones should be phased out and the government organisations should be allowed to deploy vehicles within the carrying capacity of the park.

The decision has come as a response to a writ petition by the tour operator of Waterwoods resorts who stated that the government was following a pick and choose method in granting permission. The high court has directed the state department to comply with the Wilderness Tourism Policy of 2004 and refrain from pick and choose methods.

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