Buffer Zone Case: ANI Admn Files Review Plea in SC
Prays for Eight Weeks to Renotify Buffer Zone
The Andaman and Nicobar Administration today filed a review plea in the Supreme Court praying to pass the direction to suspend/defer the operation of the order dated 6 July 2012, by a period of eight weeks (2 months).
The Supreme Court had ordered to implement the Buffer Zone Notification 2007. However, the Administration had not closed any commercial or tourism related activity after the order. By filing the review plea, the Administration will allow status quo to continue, it is learnt from official sources.
The Administration in the application has mentioned that the Buffer Zone contains 31 Revenue villages with a population of over 22,000 people and some commercial activity is therefore necessary for the livelihood and day to day activity of these persons. It has also informed the Court that ANPATR 1956 was amended to include the option of notification of a Buffer Zone, and to clearly define commercial and tourist establishment to protect the small scale commercial activity which is necessary for the population in the revenue villages.
ANI Admn has also through the Review Plea apprised the Apex Court that ANPATR Amendment Regulation has been already promulgated by the President with the necessary changes. As the amended regulation has already come to force from 9 July 2012, ANI Admn has informed the Court that it is presently proposing to re-notify a Buffer Zone and has prayed to consider that re-notification of a new Buffer Zone is likely to take a short time. The ANI Admn has also submitted the amended regulations in the Court.
The Amended regulation, which came to force on 9 July 2012 has some very intriguing clauses like giving free hand ot the Administrator to declare Buffer Zone. The notification says that "the Administrator can declare any area which is adjacent and contiguous to the reserved area as Buffer Zone and specify the limits of such area and may from time to time in the like manner alter such limits." "If any question arises whether any area falls within or without a Buffer Zone, it shall be decided by the Administrator and his decision shall be final."
The Andaman and Nicobar Administration has only filed a Review Plea and is yet to get relief from the SC. Until it gets relief, it is bound to implement the Buffer Zone Notification 2007, and in case of inaction, it can be deemed as Contempt of Court. From the date of the Order, even after a week, the Administration has not taken any action on the SC Order.
The Admn is using the same modus operandi it used with the Supreme Court Order of 2002. It had filed a review petition pleading to keep the Andaman Trunk Road open. The SC is yet to respond to the affidavit and it is taken for granted that filing a review plea or affidavit is enough to circumvent with ingenuity any order from the Apex Court.
Why and how the contentious 2007 Notification boomeranged is another aspect which is interesting. It was not the concern for the Jarawas that forced the Admn to notify the Buffer Zone from 500 mts to 5 km radius. And, in 2007, Barefoot opposed the Notification, as their resort in Collinpur was shut down and ANI Admn with myopic vision fought for its implementation not realizing its wider impact. In 2012, Barefoot fought for implementation of the Notification, as they wanted justice and ANI Admn opposed it realizing the blunder they had made. Or, why the Admn which shed crocodile tears for the Jarawas have gone for a review plea, if it felt in 2007 that such a Buffer Zone was a necessity for the survival of Jarawas?
The question is why such a notification with glaring loopholes like 31 revenue villages did not strike the masterminds when they declared a Buffer Zone in 2007? Where they not aware about the implications of such a vague Buffer Zone or was it meant to target a specific establishment, blinding them about its larger impact? Is the Administration willing to accept that it blundered? Don't the Islanders in the affected area deserve a clarification, rather a confession about the whole episode?