Road row

No solution in sight

By Sanjib Kumar Roy
Published: Wednesday 30 June 2004

Jarawas in choppy waters (Credit: Pankaj Sekhsaria)the uncertainty regarding the fate of the Jarawas, the endangered tribe living in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, has increased. During a recent meeting, the concerned authorities failed to evolve a consensus on the closure of certain parts of Andaman Trunk Road (atr), which cuts through the Jarawa Reserve.

The meeting, a seminar-cum-workshop organised by the Union ministry of tribal affairs and the union territory's (ut) administration, took place at Port Blair on May 27 and May 28. It was meant to finalise recommendations for formulating a policy for the welfare of the tribe. The seminar was a follow-up of an earlier meet held in Kolkata in April 2004 (see: 'Narrow view', Down To Earth, May 15, 2004).

While some non-governmental organisations (ngos) and anthropologists strongly demanded the closure of certain sections of the road, the ut's administration was not keen on taking this step. Significantly, the Supreme Court had ordered the closure of certain parts of atr on May 7, 2002.

The Lieutenant Governor of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Ram Kapse, said alternative ways should be found to keep the atr open as its closure would inconvenience the people, especially those living in the northern part of the ut. But he added that the administration was trying to minimise the traffic on the road by promoting a shipping line. V V Bhat, the ut's chief secretary, revealed that the administration had introduced a fast boat service.

In another development, the Union ministry of tourism has identified 10 islands in the Andamans for promoting tourism. A proposal enhancing private investment limits from Rs 5 crore to Rs 100 crore for the development of projects would soon be sent to the Union cabinet. The Union ministries of defence and home have already agreed to de-regularise restricted zones and allow free flow of passage and trade.

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