SC prohibits tourists from entering Jarawa tribe habitat

The apex court banned all tourist movements in the habitat of extremely endangered Jarawa tribe in Andaman and Nicobar and also sought to know from Andaman & Nicobar Island administration whether it intended to keep the tribe, which has a thin population of just over 300, in isolation or to be assimilated in the mainstream.

The court banned the movement of all tourist vehicles through the 46-km Andaman Trunk Road that links North Andaman to its southern part passing through the tribe’s habitat till February 26, 2013.

What is the issue?

The matter dates back to January, 2012, when two British dailies had released outraging videos showing semi-naked Jarawa men and women dancing before tourists as part of alleged ‘human safari’. In the video, the tourists were seen throwing money, food and bananas at the tribal people. After this incidence, the government ordered inquiry.

In May 2012, the court had upheld the island administration’s decision to ban private tour operators from the 5-km buffer zone but sternly warned that no government operated tours would be permitted in the area either.

The notification had declared an area up to 5 km radius of Jarawa Tribal Reserve, from boundary line starting from Constance Bay in South Andaman to Lewis Inlet Bay in Middle Andaman, as buffer zone.

Where do Jarawas live and why they are being protected?

Jarawas are highly vulnerable to diseases and viruses carried by the urban population and they live in forests in the western coasts of South and Middle Andaman Islands.



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  • SNL London

    It’s great that the Supreme Court has ordered tourists not to travel on the road through the Jarawa’s forest and that the Andaman authorities are finally implementing a Supreme Court ruling.
    One very worrying aspect of the Supreme Court hearing was that the judges asked the Andaman authorities whether ‘they want the Jarawa to be kept in isolation or to be assimilated in the mainstream’. This is a very dangerous question as it implies that this decision should rest with the authorities rather than with the Jarawa themselves. History has shown that pushing tribal people into the mainstream robs them of their self-sufficiency and pride and leaves them struggling at the edges of society – diseases, suicides and addictions soar. This is not a future that anyone wants for the Jarawa. They must be allowed to control the amount, and type, of contact they have with outsiders, and to choose, what, if any, changes they make to their way of life. It is not a question of mainstreaming or isolation, but about the right to choose and control how they live their lives on their own land.