The exploitation of members of the Jarawa tribe in the Andaman Islands

The Indian government is rightly asking questions about the exploitation of members of the Jarawa tribe in the Andaman Islands. The details have been widely reported, so will not be repeated here. Not only are human beings being misused for financial gain, but their environment is being plundered.

Hundreds of visitors to the remote Andaman Islands, north of the Equator in the Indian Ocean are driven through jungle set aside for the Jarawa tribe in tours which are technically illegal, but sold under the pretext of a trip to a local cave. 

A few months ago local people detained tourists as a protest against the tour operators’ exploitation. A Gujarati doctor said: “The locals were not hostile towards us. The organisers ensured we were comfortable as far as possible, providing us with food and water too.” Local people see: 

  • tourism development encroaching on protected land;
  • increased numbers of visitors placing additional pressure on water and waste management resources;
  • snorkelling on coral reefs which can damage the delicate reef ecosystem;
  • decline in fish populations due to commercial over-fishing, trapping or killing endangered species;  
  • whole areas uprooted to create  aerated pools used to breed and grow shrimp
  • shrimp farms using large amounts of chemicals and generating a lot of waste material which enters the surrounding watershed, the mangrove forest and coastal ecosystem; 
  • land encroachment: unclear land laws, property titles and ownership rights;
  • deforestation leading to erosion and increased sediment in the surrounding rivers and streams;
  • pesticides and fertilizers used on plantations leaching into the ground water and eventually harming coral reefs and sea-grass beds; 
  • habitat loss due to commercial exploitation, removal of native species and reduction of biodiversity.  

Read more here. 

These revelations bring to mind an account of good practice in the Lakshadweep Islands in a 1997 Times of India article by Dr Ritu Dewan. The next post will summarise the points made which could considered by the Andaman islanders.

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