Andaman resort threatening survival of Jarawa tribes

Primitive Jarawa tribe

The NGO, Survival International, has alleged that allowing the resort –– basically luxury tents –– will lead to tourists’ intrusion into the lives of the Jarawas, exposing the primitive tribes to the outside world and making them vulnerable.

There are only about 300 odd living Jarawas –– direct descendants of the first human beings that came out of Africa millions of years ago –– who stay deep inside forests in the islands of South and Middle Andaman and shun contacts with the outside world.

The developer –– Chennai-based Barefoot Group –– denied the allegations. According to its managing director Samit Sawhny, the site is far away from Jarwa land and the resort is not at all connected to “Jarawa-related voyeurism”.

Complicating the situation further, the Andaman administration, which sold the land to Barefoot, challenged the resort in the Calcutta High Court.

The site’s distance from the Jarawa reserve is the bone of contention. The Andaman administration has made it mandatory to have a five km buffer zone from the Jarawa reserves before allowing any tourist activity.

Sawhny admitted that the aerial distance of his site from the Jarawa reserve is 3.2 km and slightly more on the land and entails crossing two creeks. But at the same time, actual road access from the site to the reserve would be 7 km.

He charged the Andaman administration for singling out Barefoot as other business activities were allowed within 250 metre from the reserve and inside the reserve.

Countering the company’s denial, Survival International on Saturday stuck to its original allegation of the resort being constructed within 500 metre of the Jarawa reserve and at a location frequented by the Jarwas till recently.

Stephen Corry, director of the NGO, however, did not disclose the precise date of the last Jarawa visit arguing it was not relevant. Interestingly, Corry said though Jarawa visits are not monitored but the London-based NGO was “reliably informed that the last visit was made quite recently”.

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