Port Blair, Sept. 29: Andaman Chronicle in its edition dated 28th Sept. 2013 had carried a news item captioned ‘Jarawa face year-round threat from ‘human safaris’ under new government plans’, a press release by Survival International. Responding to the report, the Secretary (Tourism), A&N Administration has rebutted the news item and marked a press release to ‘The Daily Telegrams’, which was carried today 29th Sept. 2013.     

The release by the Secretary mentions, “Apropos the news item published in a local newspaper dated 28.09.2013 about the alleged promotion of ‘Jarawa Tourism’ in the islands. As a part of “World Tourism Day”, food festival has been organized at Port Blair by the Department of IP&T to showcase the composite culture of the islands, where the people from different parts of the country are staying harmoniously and continuing their social and cultural linkages with the mainland India.

“In a press release received here today, the Secretary (Tourism) stated that the A&N Administration is focusing on promoting the tourism at Port Blair, Neil, Havelock and Little Andaman which are far away from Jarawa Reserve Area. The adventure sports, scuba diving, snorkelling, surfing, sea-walks have an immense potential and tourists are attracted to these sports. More than 1.42 lac tourists visited Havelock Island alone last year and equal number of tourists are expected to visit this year also. These places are far away from Jarawa Reserve areas.

“The tourism sector is providing maximum employment to the local youths and the Administration wants to create infrastructure required for promoting the sector. To bring these islands on the tourist map of the country, the Administration is participating in all events being organized all over the country by various states and agencies. In one such event Mr. C.G. Vijay, Manager Tourism Department participated in TTF at Mumbai during the month of September 2013. While interacting with trade visitors, he informed that the A&N Administration is promoting tourism in A&N Islands in such a way that tourists should visit these island throughout the year for which, the Tourism Department organizes festivals at regular intervals viz. Island Tourism Festival in the month of January, Beach Festival in the month of April, Monsoon Festival in the month of June-July followed by Food Festival on the occasion of World Tourism Day during September every year. All these festivals are organized in Port Blair only. Tourism Department participates in most of the tourism fairs in India and abroad.

“The officials has clarified that this information was shared with the trade visitors at the TTF, Mumbai about various events for the tourists and there was no reference by him to ‘tourism in the tribal areas’ and ‘human safari’, which are concoctions by the newspaper and is totally denied and unwarranted.

“The Tourism Secretary in the press release further stated that there are number of settlement villages in the North & Middle Andaman Districts which are connected by Port Blair only by the Andaman Trunk Road. In these villages about 1.50 Lac people live. The Administration has taken adequate steps to prevent any interaction by the outsiders with the Jarawa Tribe. The Andaman Trunk Road is being regulated strictly by convoy system as per the policy of Central Govt. and the directions of the Hon’ble Supreme Court and the Administration is sensitive about the tribal issues. In order to reduce the vehicular traffic on the ATR, the Administration has also taken steps to provide alternate sea route.

“In order to meet the health and other concerns of the indigenous community, the Andaman Adim Janjati Vikas Samiti (AAJVS) is providing dedicated service ensuring maximum autonomy to the tribals with calibrated and minimum intervention by the Administration. The Andaman and Nicobar Tribal Research and Training Institute (ANTRI) will start functioning from 2nd October, 2013 and the institute will guide the Administration to carry out policy driven initiatives in empowering the tribes.

“The Administration is committed to protect the tribes and the violators who violate the safeguards provided to the tribes in the A&N (Protection of Aboriginal Tribes) amended Regulation, 2012.  Promoting the tourism potential of islands will not have any adverse impact on the tribal life, because the tribals are allowed to live in their own territory as per their will and choice, the release added.”