Govt exploring alternate route to Nicobar

Last Updated: Monday, February 6, 2012 - 11:49

New Delhi: Amid a raging controversy over
exploitation of Jarawa tribes, government is exploring the possibility of having alternate connectivity with the Great Nicobar island through sea and aerial route, if the Andaman
Truck Route (ATR) - which connects the island to Port Blair-
is closed down.

ATR, which is also known as the National Highway 223,
covers a distance of 300 kms and passes through the protected
forest zone inhabited by Jarawa tribals.

"The problem inside is the ATR which joins Port Blair
with the Greater Nicobar, it passes through that area. If ATR
is closed, then the alternate routes will be the sea and
aerial route," Tribal Affairs Minister V Kishore Chandra Deo said.

"Helicopter service is not very practical for a large
number of people who reside over there...Of course the sea
route is there, but how feasible it is, whether it is an all
weather route is something which needs to be looked into," he
said.

"We still can have helicopter services as a kind of
communication facility. But I don`t think it can totally be
managed with the helicopter services only. Movement of food
supplies, sick people who need help and medical attention
cannot be done through the aerial route only," he said.

Considered as the life-line of the Great Nicobar island,
the ATR is used to run convoys of food and other essential
supplies to Nicobar.

"Initially eight convoys used to be allowed in one day, now those convoys have been reduced to four. These convoys are supposed to go with security and photography is strictly prohibited,” Deo said.
Asked whether government is planning to initiate some kind of trial run on these available alternate routes, the
Union Minister said, "We have still not taken any decision on
the matter but the basic aim is to first stop exploitation of
these innocent tribals by unscrupulous tour operators or those
people who want to make a quick buck through this."

The Andaman and Nicobar administration has submitted a
report on feasibility of using the alternate routes if the
government decides to close the ATR down.

"There has been a demand for closing this ATR but a large
section of people wanted to open this for practical reasons
and purposes," he said.

The Jarawas recently were in the news after their reported exploitation by foreign tourists who were taken into
the protected zone by tour operators in the name of human
safaris.

An area over 1000 square kilometer in Great Nicobar
island has been declared as the ?protected zone? for Jarawas
and tourists and tour operators are banned from that area.

PTI




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