The Supreme Court on Tuesday cleared the decks for opening the Andaman Nicobar Trunk Road to tourists going to the Limestone Cave on the island. The trunk road remained a prohibited zone. Taking note of the island administration’s notification to protect the interests of Jarawa tribes, a Bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi, H.L. Gokhale and Ms. Ranjana Desai disposing of as infructuous a special leave petition on banning all kinds of tourist and commercial activities in Andaman and Nicobar.
The January 2013 notification has declared an area up to a five-km radius of and contiguous to the Jarawa Tribal Reserve Area, starting from Constance Bay in South Andaman to Lewis Inlet bay in Middle Andaman, a buffer zone except 30 villages notified in the schedule. No person shall operate any commercial and or tourist establishment in the buffer zone. There should be no activity which might be prejudicial to the safety, security and interests of the Jarawas in any of the settlement villages. At the last hearing on January 21, the Bench banned entry of private vehicles on the Trunk Road but permitted movement of government vehicles. The original notification, dated October 30, 2007, imposing the ban was quashed by the Calcutta High Court. On appeal, the Supreme Court stayed the High Court order and asked the administration to strictly enforce the notification until it was considered by it (the Supreme Court). The administration issued the January 17, 2013 notification in compliance with this order.
Vital link to hospital
During the resumed hearing on Tuesday, an application was filed on behalf of local inhabitants stating the Andaman Trunk Road was a vital link covering 400 villages from Baratang to Diglipur and it was being used to reach the only government hospital on the island. While taking safeguards like preventing photography of Jarawas and giving them food, the tribal population could be protected, the application said.