Gluttony of the “Civilized” Renders Jarawas Jeopardized
Eventually, my dear friends, the misfortune of the aboriginal Jarawas stays… The Calcutta High Court has allowed the construction of a holiday resort near the forest area reserved for the vulnerable Jarawa tribe in South Andaman, Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
The Andaman & Nicobar Administration had appealed against building the celebrity resort being built by the travel company, Barefoot, saying it was within the five-kilometer buffer zone of the Jarawa forest reserve and would jeopardize the aboriginal tribe which has barely 300 odd members surviving.
But the Port Blair bench of the high court upheld the claim of the Chennai-based hospitality group, Barefoot Resorts. The company claimed the buffer zone was never notified by the administration and that it was being targeted pointlessly.
As per the A & N Administration officials, the court’s decision would pave the way for other such tourism ventures near the 700 sq km reserve, as well. “How are we to protect the indigenous community if hotels are allowed right next to the tribal reserve?” asked S K P Sodhi, the Secretary, Tribal Affairs in the Andaman & Nicobar Administration.
The company spokesperson countered Sodhi, “The aerial distance between the resort and the tribal habitat is 3.2 km; by road it is longer,” he said while adding that there are other establishments too near tribal reserves in the islands, something that I would, personally say, is debatable.
The Barefoot Resorts had acquired the land for the hotel in Collinpur, South Andaman from the villagers. The administration had stayed the construction of the resort in October 2007. A single judge bench of the high court had ruled in favour of the company against which the Administration had filed an appeal before the division bench at Port Blair.
As a matter of fact, the interaction between the Jarawas and the settlers of the villages near the reserve has been going on for over a decade and a half, now, not only in Collinpur, but also in the other stretches of the reserve at Kadamtala (Middle Andaman) & Chainpur (North Andaman). But the permeation of tourists so close to the tribal reserve could pose a serious crisis.
The Jarawas, so far have been alien to alcohol, but after the recent mishap with the Onge tribe of Little Andaman Island, wherein 8 members of the tribe died after consuming alcohol from a container that came ashore floating on the sea, things can be unnerving once the resort comes alive.
A UK-based non-profit, Survival International, meanwhile, had issued a press release condemning Barefoot Resorts for endangering the Jarawas. The hospitality group retaliated by questioning the non-profit’s ethics in using photographs of Jarawas to encourage donations and asked if, “prior informed consent of the Jarawas was taken before publishing the photographs.”
Well, where do we go from here…?
What direction is the human “RACE” heading in…?? Any ideas…???