The Union Cabinet approved the proposal for promulgation of Andaman and Nicobar Islands (Protection of Aboriginal tribes) Amendment Regulation 2012. Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni told reporters that the decision has been taken under Article 240 of the Constitution which empowers the President to take such measures in case of Union Territories.
"This regulation will cover the entire Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Tourist establishments would be prohibited and other commercial establishments would be regulated in the buffer zone, which would protect the aboriginal tribes from undesirable outside influences," Soni said. The law incorporates stringent penal provisions to deter unauthorised entries, photography, videography, hunting, use of alcohol, inflammable material or biological germs, or even putting up advertisements to attract tourists in the buffer zone.
The zone would comprise of an area upto 5 km radius around the Jarawa tribal reserve. "The offenders can be imprisoned from 3 to 7 years and fined upto Rs 10,000," Soni said. The minister maintained that an earlier attempt by the government to create this buffer zone had been quashed by the Calcutta High Court. A Special Leave Petition in the matter is pending with the Supreme Court.