Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Report Card on Tribal Issues

Report Card on Tribal Issues

By Staff Reporter

Why did the Tribal Policy appear in the IDA Standing Committee still remains a puzzle. It seems the Admn got an opportunity to convince the Planning Commission what it has done on this front as it appears more like a report card on tribal issues. The way the issue of Buffer Zone was presented does not elicit at any point that it was a fiasco, where they actually deserve reprimand.
In the presentation, the Admn boasts of its protection regime and the mistakes committed by the British. On Great Andamanese, it has commented that the British Policy has severely impacted them and the Admn is protecting them in Strait Island. On Onges too, it blames the intervention policy of the British. On Nicobarese, it mentions that they have been successfully mainstreamed and integrated with non-tribal civilization and are now educationally advanced. On Jarawas, the presentation mentions that the hunter and gatherer tribe, initially hostile with outsiders are in friendly disposition now due to protection and health care extended by the Administration.
About Andaman Trunk Road, the presentation says that the closure of the road is going to cause tremendous hardship to settlers. It says that the road was constructed as a part of the approved Rehabilitation Scheme, 56 km stretch passing through the Jarawa Reserve and is also the lifeline of 1.50 lakh population in about 100 settlements. It further mentions that safeguards are in position on ATR which passes through Reserve area and the Jarawas are insulated from outside influence.  It also raises concerns about the settlers living in the Buffer Zone. The Admn claims that regulated traffic movement, reduced convoy frequency and DIG-level police officer being designated as Nodal Officer to monitor traffic movement are positive steps taken to protect the tribe from outside influence.
To review the existing Jarawa Policy as suggested by the Expert Committee of Ministry of Tribal Affairs chaired by Union Secretary in Feb 2012, it says that empirical data is being collected engaging field functionaries of AAJVS.
On alternate sea route, the presentation mentions that the route will be opened for traffic by March 2015. Ministry of Tribal Affairs had suggested avoiding tourist traffic on ATR by establishing new jetties, navigational aids and dredging works. The Admn informed the Standing Committee that the works related with the alternate route has been incorporated in 12th Five Year Plan. Preliminary works for REIA study and hydrographic survey has been completed and other preliminary works like sub-soil investigation, preparation of navigational charts have commenced.
On Buffer Zone, which was notified in 2007 to protect Jarawas from harmful effects of outside contacts, the Admn presented that the Zone covers an area of 842.58 Sq Km in which 22000 people lives in 31 revenue villages. It also informed that seven tourist establishments were closed out.
Going into the details the Admn said that on the Notification being quashed by Calcutta High Court, Administration filed SLP in Apex Court, and the Apex court directed the Admn to implement Buffer Zone notification without any exception until notification is rescinded or amended.
The Administration informed that it has constituted a committee under the chairmanship of Chief Secretary and two field level committees to revisit Buffer Zone. It also informed the IDA Standing Committee that a revised notification is expected by March, 2013.
The Admn also informed the Standing Committee that A&N Islands (PAT) Amendment Regulation, 2012 was brought into force on 9 August 2012, which empowers Administrator to declare/modify Buffer Zone, and any area contiguous to reserve area & provides stringent penal provisions against the offenders.

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