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The Andaman Jarawa - Is conflict brewing?

"How will the administration control people living within the buffer from moving around?"...

"The Lt Governor of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lt. General (Retd) Bhopinder Singh today assured people ..... there is no need for the public to panic."

THE government has cleared the decks for creating a buffer zone around the Jarawa reserve in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The Jarawas are one of the indigenous peoples of the islands with a population of 273.

An amendment to the Andaman and Nicobar (Protection of Aboriginal Tribals) Regulation Act of 1956, promulgated by President Pratibha Patil on July 22, allows the island authorities to ban private tourism within the buffer zone. The authorities fear tourists may expose the Jarawas to diseases.

"Proposal for a 5km-buffer zone has been sent to the ministry of home affairs. If cleared, the lieutenant governor would be able to curb commerce in it," said an official in the island's tribal welfare department. The decision follows an ongoing Supreme Court battle between the administration and a private resort, Barefoot. Initially, Barefoot was allowed to set up a branch in Colinpur, near the reserve. The administration backtracked.

Vishvajit Pandya, a professor at the Dhirubai Ambani Institute of Technology and Communication in Gandhinagar, thinks formation of a buffer zone would be futile. "How will the administration control people living within the buffer from moving around?" he asked.

Instead, Pandya said, they should close the Andaman Trunk Road which runs through the reserve. It opens up the area to tourists and could lead to encroachment.


No need for the public to panic in Buffer Zone Issue

Port Blair, Dec 17: Staff correspondent,

The Lt Governor of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lt. General (Retd) Bhopinder Singh today assured people of Andaman and Nicobar that normal activities will continue in the Jarawa Buffer Zone area and there is no need for the public to panic.   

         “No one will be evicted from the Buffer Zone and there is absolutely no need for the public to panic. Administration and even the Supreme Court is aware of the ground realities. Road will remain open, life will continue and all villages of Buffer Zone will remain at the same place. On 15, December there was Supreme Court’s hearing on this issue and on behalf of Administration we presented facts infront of the Supreme Court,” the Lt. Governor said while interacting with the Panchayati Raj Members of North & Middle and South Andaman this morning at Port Blair.

          The meeting was called by the President of Pradesh Congress Committee, Mr. Kuldeep Rai Sharma, who led the delegation of PRI members to Raj Niwas.

          The buffer zone, a 5 km radius around the Jarawa Reserve Forest of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, was created by Andaman and Nicobar Administration in 2007 vide notification no. 243, dated 30, October 2007, which prohibits entry of any person other than a member of aboriginal tribe from entering the Buffer zone for any commercial or tourism activities.

          Following Supreme Court’s directions, on 7 & 8 December 2010, Directorate of Tribal Welfare of Andaman and Nicobar Administration and District Administrations of South Andaman and North & Middle Andaman had issued directions to close all commercial and tourism establishments in the Buffer Zone area.

          The Lt. Governor said that only those business establishments, which are showcasing Jarawa as commodity and are showing Jarawa tribes in primitive form to tourists, will have to close down their business establishment.

          “Other than those business houses, normal life will continue in Buffer Zone area as everybody knows that most of the people living in Buffer Zone area were settled by Government of India several decades back and from them there is no threat to Jarawa Tribes. Even if some minor issues are there, we can settled them here,” Lt. General (Retd.) Bhopinder Singh added.

          Assuring grassroot leaders to withdraw the recent closure notice, he also urged public from stay away from rumours and those who are misguiding people in Buffer Zone issue.

          He also lauded the efforts of Mr. Kuldeep Rai Sharma for bringing this crucial issue in his notice right on time for which he managed to take necessary steps.

          “There are some discrepancies in the last Buffer Zone Notification, in which petty shop owners, small business houses and big business houses, who are showcasing Jarawan as commodity, have been treated in same category. I assure to make necessary corrections in Buffer Zone notification,” he said    

          Expressing gratitude towards the Lt. Governor, Mr. Kuldeep Rai Sharma, president of Pradesh Congress Committee said that there is a large scale panic among nearly 40,000 people living in 31 villages, which fall under Jarawa Buffer Zone, regarding the Buffer Zone Notification and the recent closure notices, served to business establishments of North and Middle Andaman.

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