Sunday, April 22, 2012

Jarawa Buffer Zone: At Crossroads?


Jarawa Buffer Zone:
At Crossroads?

By Zubair Ahmed

The contentious five-kilometre radius Buffer Zone (BZ) notified by the Andaman and Nicobar Admn around the Jarawa Tribal Reserve had created huge commotion and panic in about 31 villages of South and Middle Andaman. And, in all probability doing nothing good for the Jarawas. Moreover, it is strongly alleged that there have been differences of opinion between the Administration as well as the Administrator on the manner in which the draconian and impractical Buffer Zone has been notified.
In 2007, a Buffer Zone Notification was issued by the Lt. Governor of Andaman and Nicobar Islands declaring five kms radius around the Jarawa Reserve Area from the boundary line starting from Constance Bay in South Andaman to Lewis Inlet Bay in the Middle Andaman as a "Buffer Zone".
Barefoot, a resort at Collinpur, was shut down by the Administration on the basis of the Buffer Zone Notification, which was challenged in the High Court, and the Single Bench quashed the Order, on which the ANI Admn preferred an appeal in the Division Bench, which too was dismissed. Doggedly, the Admn dragged the respondents to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court appointed two Court Commissioners Senior Advocate T.S. Doabia and Adv. Sanjay Upadhyay in February 2012 to look into the issue of implementation of the Notification.
The Commissioners made a four-day visit to the Andaman Islands especially the Andaman Trunk Road, Baratang and met the Panchayat leaders of Baratang, Kadamtala and neighbouring areas. They also conducted a public hearing at Port Blair where the majority of the participants complained that it was not well publicized and brought out the concerns of those who could not come from affected villages due to short notice.
The Commissioners submitted two separate reports citing various reasons for omission of a common report. However, Adv Sanjay Upadhyay felt that such omission would only add value to the independent thinking and views of the Commissioners and would help the process of arriving at a fair judgment rather than an impediment of any nature.
Although, both the reports have gone deep into the historical aspects of the issue, it is silent about the current status of implementation of the Buffer Zone Notification, in letter and spirit, as ordered by the Apex Court.
There is wide resentment among the Islanders that a two-member team, oblivious of the depth of issue are sought to make an in-depth report, which will be heard in the Apex Court and a judgement proclaimed. There are innumerable gaffes in one of the reports and one of the Commissioners have even dared to suggest solutions to an issue, which most of the anthropologists still find difficult to comment upon.

No comments: