Home / India News / Corbett Tiger Reserve to reopen after 3 months, tourists limited to 3 zones
Dehradun: The Corbett tiger reserve in Uttarakhand is set to reopen after a closure of nearly three months because of Covid-19-related restrictions and authorities intend to allow tourists into three zones while observing all health protocols.
The move follows the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) allowing tiger reserves across the country to open with all precautions.
Uttarakhand’s chief wildlife warden Rajiv Bhartari issued an order dated June 10 that said, “Tourism activities can be allowed in Corbett Tiger Reserve given the instructions given by NTCA regarding the opening of tiger reserves and the orders and standard operating procedures (SOPs) issued by the district administration to control the spread of Covid-19 are followed.”
The order said the park’s administration should hold a meeting with officials from Pauri Garhwal and Nainital districts, over which the reserve is spread out.
NTCA’s guidelines state there should be mandatory thermal scanning of all tourists and drivers, and that all visitors, guides and drivers should wear masks and face shields.
There should be hand sanitisers in every vehicle, and their tyres should be cleaned with disinfectant, while seating capacity should be reduced to 50%. People below 10 years and above 65 years won’t be allowed in the reserves, according to the guidelines.
With preparations underway to reopen Corbett tiger reserve, officials said only three zones of the park will be open to visitors.
RK Tiwari, the warden of Corbett tiger reserve, said: “We are holding meetings with district administrations to get all the permissions and to chalk out a proper plan before tourists are allowed in. This year we will only be opening Jhirna, Dhela and Pakhro zones, which are open to tourists around the year.
“As Dhikala and Bijrani zones are closed to tourists by June 15 every year, those zones will not be opened.”
Tiwari said officials are also holding meetings with the district administrations to discuss SOPs issued by the tourism department, which state any tourist who visits Uttarakhand will have to stay for a minimum of seven days and cannot venture out to tourist spots.
“First, we have to ensure that we don’t take bookings from those districts from which if people come, they have to undergo mandatory 21-day quarantine. Then if tourists go for a safari, they should maintain social distancing, and only two people will be allowed in a vehicle but the cost will be the same. So we have to find a way out for these details,” he said.
Speaking on the gates of Corbett being opened after a gap of almost three months, Bhartari said, “We haven’t issued any specific directions to the director of the reserve. They have first been asked to comply with all NTCA guidelines, then follow SOPs of the state and central governments and third, organise a meeting of the local advisory committee under the chairmanship of commissioner of Kumaon region for the safety of tourists.”
Bhartari said it wouldn’t be possible to allow tourism activities in Rajaji tiger reserve as only three days are left before it is closed for the monsoon, but Corbett has three zones that remain open through the monsoon too.
On March 17, Uttarakhand’s forest department ordered the closure of all protected sites and zoos amid the Covid-19 outbreak. The chief wildlife warden then issued an order that all protected sites such as national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, tiger reserves and zoos would be closed to prevent the spread of infections.
The Corbett tiger reserve, spread over 1,288 sq m, is believed to have around 260 tigers and is one of the most loved tourist destinations of the state. The gates of Corbett open for six months on November 15 every year.
The reserve attracts around 300,000 tourists every year across its six eco-tourism zones, with Dhikala and Bijrani being the most popular.