Re-impose permit restrictions to 6 islands: NCST

Last Updated 18 December 2018, 18:32 IST

The National Commission for Scheduled Tribe (NCST) has sought re-imposition of restricted area permit regime in six islands of Andaman and Nicobar inhabited by Andamanese, Jarawas, Sentinelese, Onges and Sompens.

It has also sought the Centre to declare the air space above the North Sentinel island as "No Fly Zone" for any type of civil aircraft.

This comes days after a US citizen John Allen Chau was killed by the Sentinelese, world's most reclusive hunter-gatherer tribes, at North Sentinel island last month.

In a letter to the Union home ministry, the commission has "regretted" that despite "reservations" expressed by it, the ministry in September not only did away with the provision for mandatory registration of foreigners, visiting the Andaman islands, but also added the Viper Island to the list of islands where mandatory registration is not required.

The ministry's "directives" in this regard are not in consonance with the spirit of Article 338A (9) of the Constitution of India which mandates the Union and every state government to consult the NCST “on all major policy matters affecting scheduled tribes,” the commission noted.

Following the incident, the NCST chairman Nand Kumar Sai and its members visited the Andaman islands earlier this month and held discussions with the top officials in Union territory administration and local stakeholders.

“The names of Strait Island (Andamanese), Middle and South Andaman (Jarawas), North Sentinal Island (Sentinelese), Little Andaman (Onges) and Great Nicobar (Shompens) inhabited by the PVTGs (particularly vulnerable tribal groups) should be removed from the list of 29 islands which have been excluded from the restricted area permit regime,” the NCST recommended.

It has also recommended for strengthening the surveillance and patrolling by the police and coast guards in the six islands.

A “daily incident report” on their patrolling activities “should be web-hosted” in the official website of Andaman administration and other related public portals.

Large size posters and hoardings should be put up at the airport, seaport and “all other important places” in the Andaman and Nicobar islands, “decrying tourism and/or visit of any kind by the people” to the six islands inhabited by the PVTGs.

“A comprehensive outreach programme should be launched by the UT administration to sensitize fishermen, tourist guides, tour operators, hotel industry and other stake holders on the 'eyes on' and 'hands off' policy for Sentinelese so that they can be eyes and ears of the administration,” the commission added.

(Published 18 December 2018, 15:38 IST)

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