Justice for Jarawas…
Weeks after the last member of the “Bo” tribe died on the Andaman Islands, the Supreme Court of India has moved to protect the neighboring Jarawa tribe by suspending the operation of a controversial tourist resort about which I had written last year - "High Court Allows Resort Threatening Andaman Tribe".
The Supreme Court ordered last Monday that the company, Barefoot India, must close its ‘Celebrity Resort’ near the Jarawa’s reserve area, pending further deliberation by the court.
Despite concerns for the future of the vulnerable tribe, Barefoot had challenged the legality of a ‘Buffer Zone’ around the reserve. The buffer zone was designed to protect the Jarawas by preventing tourism and other commercial activity near their land. The resort lies within the disputed zone.
But concerns remain over the Andaman Trunk Road (ATR) running through the tribal reserve connecting North and Middle Andaman with South Andaman, and the poachers, tourists and other outsiders it brings into daily contact with the Jarawas. “The government of India is yet to act upon a 2002 Supreme Court ruling that the road must be closed”, says Survival International.
“Most of the “Bo” tribe, whose last member Boa Sr died in January this year, died of diseases brought by British colonists in the nineteenth century. The Jarawas, who resisted contact with outsiders until 1998, are expected to have little immunity to many outside infections and could be wiped out by an epidemic.”
“Many of Barefoot’s visitors will have recently stepped off long-haul flights. Research indicates that about 20% of airline passengers develop colds or other viral infections within a few days of their flight.”
Survival’s director Stephen Corry said, ‘Nobody wants to see the Jarawa go the same way as Boa Sr’s people. This week’s court decision to suspend the Barefoot resort is a positive sign. But if the Indian government is serious about protecting the Jarawa it must close the road and keep intruders off their land.’
Stats courtesy: Survival International