The government has decided to ban tourist activity and regulate commercial establishments within a five km radius of the habitat of aboriginal tribes in Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
The Cabinet on Thursday gave its approval to the proposal to promulgate the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (Protection of Aboriginal Tribes) Amendment Regulation 2012 to ensure that endangered tribes like the Jarawas are protected from undesirable outside influences. The decision comes in the wake of emergence of video clips that showed Jarawa women dancing,apparently before tourists.
Violation of this would invite an imprisonment of a minimum of three years,extendable up to seven years,and/or a fine of Rs 10,000. The law would prohibit unauthorised entries,photography,videography,hunting,use of alcohol,carrying of inflammable material or biological germs,and using photographs of tribals to attract tourists.
Interestingly,the Union Territory administration had come out with a similar notification in October 2010,declaring an area up to five km radius around a Jarawa tribal reserve as buffer zone and prohibiting any commercial or tourist activity within this zone. This notification was struck down by the Calcutta High Court. The UT administration had appealed in the Supreme Court and the appeal is still pending.
The Centre has moved ahead to promulgate the amendment,invoking Article 240 of the Constitution that empowers the President to make regulations in the UTs.