New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the National Tiger Conservation Authority to notify new guidelines for tourism in tiger reserves that allows restricted visits in core habitats.

The apex court will hear the matter again on 16 October and may modify its 24 July directive that banned all forms of tourism in the so-called core areas in the 41 tiger reserves in the country.

Core areas in reserves that host sufficient prey animals, shelter and water for the big cats are critical for conservation of the tiger, which faces extinction in India.

Judges A.K. Patnaik and Swatanter Kumar also indicated that they might ask the states to formulate plans for tiger tourism in parks within their jurisdiction based on the revised guidelines.

The new guidelines for tourism in and around tiger reserves propose phasing out government guest houses, resorts and other facilities inside core tiger habitats.

The fresh norms also propose that only up to 20% of the core areas of tiger habitats be allowed for regulated, low-impact tourism. The 20% usage cannot exceed the present usage of core areas in reserves, according to the guidelines.

The environment ministry submitted the revised guidelines at the court on 26 September.

The Supreme court is hearing a July 2011 petition by Ajay Dubey to stop activities including tourism in core areas of tiger reserves. Dubey approached the apex court after his appeal to ban tourism in the core areas of tiger reserves was rejected by the Madhya Pradesh high court in January 2011.

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