Andaman plans alternative route to protect Jarawas

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Port Blair, May 3 (UNI) To protect the primitive Jarawa tribes, the Andaman Tribal Welfare Department has found out an alternative sea route for the controversial Andaman Trunk Road (ATR), that passes through the Jarawa Reserve Area.

Department secretary S K P Sodi told UNI here today that the proposal for the new route will soon be placed before the Andaman and Nicobar administration for clearance.

''The alternative sea route will allow tourists to visit Baratang Islands in Middle Andaman without crossing or affecting the Jarawa Reserve area,'' Mr Sodi said.

Activists across the world have been pressuring the Indian government to close the Andaman Trunk Road, that cuts through the protected land of the tribes at two places.

They have alleged that the road has caused a lots of problems for the Jarawas, who were still hostile to changes being imposed on them.

''We should not impose any kind of development on them. The changes will occur slowly,'' Survival International activist Sophie Grig told UNI.

''Too much contact and too quickly could rapidly lead to outbreak of several diseases among these tribals,'' she added.

Survival International have been demanding closure of the ATR to protect the Jarawa tribes from being extinct.

Jarawa, is one of the six indigenous tribal communities of island and a recent survey states that there only 332 members of this community are left in the remote lush green islands of Nicobar.

''I think that the ATR must be closed as the tribals were coming in contact with the outside world resulting in epidemic and diseases among them,'' Ms Grig added.

However, authorities in Andaman state the tourists were responsible for the outbreak of various diseases among the Jarawas.

UNI SKR PP DB KK RN1642

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