Thursday, September 27, 2012

Protected Area Update - October 2012

PROTECTED AREA UPDATE
News and Information from protected areas in India and South Asia

Vol. XVIII No. 5                                                
October 2012 (No. 99)

LIST OF CONTENTS
EDITORIAL               
The real costs of Coalgate

NEWS FROM INDIAN STATES
ASSAM
- Two poachers killed in Rajiv Gandhi (Orang) NP
- Elephant killed by speeding train near Amchang Wildlife Sanctuary

GUJARAT
- Scanty rainfall in Gir; FD makes alternative arrangement

KARNATAKA
- State opposes TR status for Kudremukh

KERALA
- Solar powered fences for Wayanad forests

MADHYA PRADESH
- Tribal museum to be set up near Kanha TR

MAHARASHTRA
- Wildlife conservation plan for Chandrapur district
- Panel for management plan for Pench Tiger Reserve buffer zone
- State wildlife board clears Gargai Dam; to submerge part of Tansa WLS

NAGALAND
- Workshop on Community Conserved Areas in Nagaland

ORISSA
- Alternative livelihoods planned for Simlipal forest dwellers

RAJASTHAN
- Mordoongri village moves out of Ranthambhore
- More tigers to be re-located to Sariska TR

TAMIL NADU
- Buffer zones notified for Anaimalai, Mudumalai and Kalakkad Mundanthurai TRs
- Merchants federation urges exclusion of Valparai from Anaimalai TR
- In-principle nod for Sathyamangalam TR; proposal for TR status for Srivilliputhur Grizzled Squirrel and Meghamalai WLS
- CEC rejects road connecting Theni forests and Srivilliputhur Grizzled Squirrel Sanctuary
- Delay in relocation from Mudumalai TR

UTTAR PRADESH
- Thermal power plant in Sonbhadra rejected because of proximity to Kaimur WLS

NATIONAL NEWS FROM INDIA
- CBSE warns against use of rare/endangered species in classrooms
- Coal mining threat to 1.1 million ha of forest, over 10 tiger reserves in Central India
- The IBN Network Young Indian Leader award for Kamal Medhi
- TN Khushoo Memorial Award for Vidya Athreya
- Five new tiger reserves approved

SOUTH ASIA               
- Bhutan, India, and Nepal agree to enhance cooperation in the Kanchenjunga Landscape

BANGLADESH
- 10,000 deer killed every year in the Sundarbans

SPECIAL SECTIONS
-- THE FOREST RIGHTS ACT, PROTECTED AREAS AND WILDLIFE CONSERVATION

NATIONAL NEWS
- Tiger reserve cores, buffers and ecotourism  An update

GUJARAT
- Consultation in Kachchh on the FRA

-- IMPORTANT BIRD AREAS UPDATE

NATIONAL NEWS
- Concern over threat to vultures from veterinary painkiller Aceclofenac

ANDAMAN & NICOBAR ISLANDS
- Coast Guard radar project on Narcondam Island rejected

GUJARAT
- Gujarat has the highest number of Lesser floricans

MAHARASHTRA
- Six wetlands proposed as Ramsar sites
- New IBAs being identified in Maharashtra

PUNJAB
- Fishing contractors raid range office at Harike Wildlife Sanctuary

TAMIL NADU
- No new construction work within 5 km radius around bird sanctuaries near Chennai

******
Quick NEWS                                       
READERS RESPOND                                   
FROM THE ARCHIVES: A Decade Ago                           
PERSPECTIVE                                            
Thoughts from a conservation gathering: SCB Asia 2012
-----
EDITORIAL

--  The real costs of Coalgate--

How much really is Rs. 1.86 lakh crore? This is the figure presently doing the rounds of the loss the nation has incurred because of the corruption in the allocation of coals blocks in different parts of the country. This huge amount of money is at the centre of a huge churning that is taking place in the political establishment and in the media. There is an outrage at what looks like a loot of unprecedented proportions.
    Even as political parties slug it out, skeletons tumble out of corporate cupboards, as the electronic media finds juicy bits to occupy airtime and the many column inches of newspaper space get consumed by Coalgate, there is a more fundamental question that has neither been asked nor answered - what is it really that we are losing? The Rs. 1.86 lakh crore is an evaluation in one dimension, in one metric, actually, in only one world view. It is a computation of the loss in Indian National Rupees (INR) that has been incurred to the national treasury because a whole set of people (almost) successfully ducked the system. It is the alleged illegality, the cheating of the system where the real money for the coal was not paid.
    But, what if we assume for a moment that the game would be played by the book, that there would be competitive bidding, that the correct price would be paid? The state would earn the Rs. 1.86 lakh crore but would anything else change? To answer that question, even if as a partial counterpoint, one has to look at Greenpeace Indias most recent report How coal mining is thrashing tigerland (Page 12). Over 1.1 million hectares of forest, mostly dense, is at risk from coal mining in just 13 coalfields in Central India that the report analyses; there are 40 other coalfields which still remain to be evaluated.
These forests are home to a diverse range of flora and fauna including mega fauna such as the tiger, leopard and elephant; these forests are the carbon sinks which we want to exploit and market in international fora; and these are the lands that are home to thousands of adivasi communities who have lived here for generations. The Rs. 1.86 lakh crore is only the notional value of a single resource that lies buried deep; it does not include the value of anything and everything else, even if a valuation was indeed possible.
    The mining, where it will happen or where it has already happened, cares neither for the estimated economic losses nor the legality. The coal is the same, the processes are the same and the outcomes are same. The forests will be ripped apart, watersheds will be destroyed, rivers and streams poisoned, livelihoods and cultures of the adivasi communities sacrificed at the alter of development. It doesnt matter that these people bear the lightest footprint on the planet in these times of a climate change crisis and neither will it matter that many of these forests are adjacent to tiger reserves or are part of corridors linking one tiger or elephant habitat to another. Lets also not forget that conservation policies which aggressively seek to evict traditional communities for purposes of conservation are rendered almost completely impotent in the context of this discourse.
    Coalgate could be an eye-opener, but only if we understood the real value of this Rs. 1.86 lakh crore!

----
PROTECTED AREA UPDATE
Vol. XVIII, No. 5, October 2012 (No. 99)
Editor: Pankaj Sekhsaria
Editorial Assistance: Reshma Jathar, Anuradha Arjunwadkar
Illustrations: Madhuvanti Anantharajan, Peeyush Sekhsaria
Produced by
The Documentation and Outreach Centre
KALPAVRIKSH
Apartment 5, Shri Dutta Krupa, 908 Deccan Gymkhana, Pune 411004, Maharashtra, India.
Tel/Fax: 020  25654239. Email: psekhsaria@gmail.com
Website: http://kalpavriksh.org/protected-area-update
Publication of the PA Update has been supported by

- Foundation for Ecological Security (FES)
 http://fes.org.in/
- Duleep Matthai Nature Conservation Trust,  C/o FES
- World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) - India
- Bombay Natural History Society
- Action Aid
- Donations from a number of individual supporters

Information has been sourced from different newspapers and
http://indiaenvironmentportal.org.in; www.conservationindia.org

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Protected Area Update - August 2012


Here are the list of contents and the editorial for the new issue of the Protected Area Update (August 2012). If you would like to receive the entire PA Update in its soft copy format please write to me at psekhsaria@gmail.com


thanking you
Pankaj Sekhsaria
Editor, Protected Area Update
C/o Kalpavriksh
---

PROTECTED AREA UPDATE
News and Information from protected areas in India and South Asia

Vol. XVIII No. 4
August 2012 (No. 98)

LIST OF CONTENTS
EDITORIAL               
The tiger tourism debate is on fire
NEWS FROM INDIAN STATES
ASSAM
- Huge impact of floods on Kaziranga NP; over 500 wild animal casualties
- Gibbon Conservation training for Assam and Arunachal Pradesh foresters

- New tiger reserve in Karbi Anglong district

GOA
- White-water rafting inside Mhadei WLS


GUJARAT
- Gujarat FD in dilemma; paying compensation to those who harass lions

- Group formed to oppose lion shows around Gir


HIMACHAL PRADESH
- Great Himalayan NP on the way to getting world heritage tag

KARNATAKA
- 5000 acres of revenue land in corridor connecting Bandipur and Mudumalai gets RF status


KERALA
- 80 tigers counted in Wayanad WLS

MAHARASHTRA
- State clears the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor through Sanjay Gandhi NP

- Hi-tech digital cameras to be installed in Sanjay Gandhi NP

- Rare plant ‘spiderwort’ rediscovered in Chandoli National Park
- Kin of tiger kill victim in Bor WLS compensated by FD, NGO
- State notifies Umred-Kharangala WLS and Kolamarla Conservation Reserve
- New PAs, additions, to increase PA area in Vidarbha by 500 sq km
- Proposal to drill deep bores inside Chandoli NP, Koyna WLS to study reservoir triggered seismicity


ORISSA
- Elephant population rises in OrissA
 
RAJASTHAN
- Ranthambhore and Sariska TR buffer zones notified

UTTAR PRADESH
- Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister for promotion of wildlife tourism in the state

WEST BENGAL
- Special Tiger Protection Force for Buxa TR
- 139 humans killed in elephant attacks in West Bengal in the last two years
- Dudhwa NP to get six kunkis from Jaldapara WLS 


NATIONAL NEWS FROM INDIA   

- India seeks US$ 30 million from World Bank for wildlife management, protection

- CII signs MoU with the World Bank for tiger conservation
- SC Bans tourism in core areas of tiger reserves
- Guidelines for tourism in protected areas
- Red list has 132 species of plants, animals as ‘critically endangered’ from India

- 48 tiger deaths in the first half of 2012
- NTCA asks for intensive monitoring in rhino-range states

SOUTH ASIA               

Nepal
- Nepal launches drones for wildlife protection


SPECIAL SECTIONS
•    The Forest Rights Act, Protected Areas and Wildlife Conservation

ORISSA
- Tribal groups oppose plantation drive inside Chandaka WLS
TAMIL NADU
- Protests against Sathyamangalam TR continue

•    IMPORTANT BIRD AREAS UPDATE
                  
NATIONAL NEWS
- Major vulture conservation initiatives for year 2014


ANDAMAN & NICOBAR ISLANDS
- Coast Guard radar project on Narcondum Island could threaten Narcondum Hornbill


GUJARAT
- Status quo to me maintained for Banni Grassland
- Vulture numbers rise in Girnar hills

MAHARASHTRA
- Conditional clearance to the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link
- 80% reduction proposed for Nandur Madhmeshwar WLS

ORISSA
- New research, conservation initiatives at Chilika

PUNJAB
- Govt honours staff at Harike WLS that was injured in attack by land mafia
- Encroachments removed from 40 acres at Harike Wildlife Sanctuary

Quick NEWS                                       
FROM THE ARCHIVES: A Decade Ago                           
PERSPECTIVE                                                      24
- The 'dreaded' research permit

------
EDITORIAL

- The tiger tourism debate is on fire -

 In an order that will have far reaching consequences, the Supreme Court imposed a blanket ban on tourism in the core areas of tiger reserves with immediate effect on July 24. The order is up for review within three weeks but the stage has been set for a period of considerable turmoil in matters related to wildlife tourism, particularly that where the tiger is involved.
    There has been wide coverage of the development in the print and electronic media and the virtual world too has come alive with opinions, claims, allegations and counter allegations. A large section of the wildlife conservation community has been quite outraged and this is an important comment on the political economy of wildlife conservation as also of the wildlife tourism industry.
    One prominent wildlife photographer and hotelier posted a photo of a dead tiger on facebook with a prominent caption – ‘Tourism did not kill him – goat herders did’. Other comments have expressed indignation at a situation where villagers will be allowed to stay inside, but tourism will have to leave. It is noteworthy that wildlife conservation and tourism is implicated in an interesting and important overlap of interests. Those wanting conservation of wildlife are increasingly benefitting from it as tourism operators or then as consumers of a wild experience.
The case has been made for a very long time that tourism benefits wildlife because it constitutes non-consumptive use of the resource that can also benefit local communities in the process and 2ndly, that tourist presence denies poachers the chance to get at their quarry. The simplicity of these arguments conceals the fault lines of a situation that is far more nuanced and complex both, on the ground as well as in the policy domain. While conservation has been projected as an important national agenda, there is no denying that in the present paradigm it’s majority stake is restricted to a small section of the urban middle and upper-middle class.
There is also much evidence of the hardships experienced by and atrocities inflicted on local communities in the name of conservation. Ironically, the same paradigm is expected to benefit the same people from the same wildlife conservation, albeit through the tourism route. It is unlikely that the math will add up!
And this, as has been pointed out by many, is only a small part of the overall economic paradigm where everything is meant for consumption; where GDP and economic growth takes precedence over everything else and where even wildlife and conservation will have to pay for itself. Banning tourism is, perhaps, not the solution. If, however, the parameters of the debate and the discussions around conservation are themselves not re-negotiated, there is unlikely to be much progress.
For many proponents, tourism, if done sensitively, is part of the solution to the many conservation related challenges we face today. For the moment however, the shoe is on the other foot. The solution has become the problem and the SC order should be welcomed for the debate it has fostered and a new perspective it could potentially engineer. Whether this results in a wash-out or in a shake-out is something we have to wait and watch. And for a change, this particular wait is unlikely to be a long one!

----

THE 'PA UPDATES FOR A 1000 FOREST STAFF' Initiative


As an effort at increasing the readership of the PA Update, particularly amongst the forest and wildlife staff, those at the very frontlines of conservation effort, we are launching this 'PA Updates for a 1000 forest staff' initiative.
    It has been prompted by feedback to us that field staff often do not know what is happening in the policy arena, in other parts of the country and sometimes even in their own backyard.
    We have set ourselves a target of being able to raise enough resources in six months time so that the 100th issue of the PA Update will go out to a set of 1000 forest staff with your support. We would like to request and encourage you to subscribe to the PA Update on behalf of forest staff - the more you can support the better. You tell us which particular state, region, protected area or particular individual or office in the forest staff you would like to reach out to and we will use your gift subscription to send the PA Update to that person or set of persons for a period of one year.
    The annual subscription for this initiative of the PA Update will be only Rs. 100/-. You can support 100 such subscriptions or you can support just one!
    We are sure you will agree that this is a campaign worth undertaking and that we will also get your support and contributions for this. If you need any more information or details, please do let me know. Please also circulate this widely on other networks that you might be part of and send us suggestions or ideas of how to make this successful are very welcome indeed. 



    

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Protected Area Update - June 2012



News and Information from protected areas in India and South Asia
Vol. XVIII No. 3
 June 2012 (No. 97)

LIST OF CONTENTS
EDITORIAL               
An officer and a wildlife researcher

NEWS FROM INDIAN STATES
ANDHRA PRADESH
- Tiger Reserve status for Kawal WLS

ARUNACHAL PRADESH
- 35 species recorded in camera-trapping exercise in Namdapha NP

ASSAM
- Assam forest staff allowed use of fire arms; other measures for forest protection
- 118 tigers in Kaziranga NP in the last three years
- Serious water shortage in Gibbon WLS, Orang NP in March
- Rainwater harvesting for Gibbon WLS
- Elephant population rises in Assam
- Increase in rhino population in Assam

BIHAR
- River dolphin research centre at Patna

JAMMU & KASHMIR
- Camera traps to be used to study wildlife in J&K
- Concrete threat to Dachigam National Park

KARNATAKA
- Road connecting Mysore and Mananthavadi to bypass Nagarhole NP
- Power line in Kudremukh NP to be dismantled as ‘conservation swap’ for new power line in Nandikur

MADHYA PRADESH
- IISc researchers held for ‘hunting’ at Panna TR
- Gujarat gives the ‘cheetah’ reason to refuse lions for Kuno Palpur WLS
- NHAI proposes to reduce width of the road passing through Pench TR

MAHARASHTRA
- Jaw traps near Tadoba Andhari TR get tigers, injure forest guard
- Zero-garbage plan for Matheran, Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani ESAs in state

RAJASTHAN
- Minister orders halt on the construction work inside Sariska TR
- Agitators shut down Sariska TR for a week in March

TAMIL NADU
- Gram sabhas oppose creation of the Sathyamangalam tiger reserve

UTTAR PRADESH
- Two proposals totaling Rs. 6.6 crore for Dudhwa NP

UTTARAKHAND
- WII recommends scrapping of 34 big dams in Uttarakhand
- Court orders ‘complete silence zone’ in a radius of 500 m around Corbett NP
- Road-widening plan may affect revival of the Gola corridor

NATIONAL NEW FROM INDIA   
- SC stays cheetah reintroduction project
- Carl Zeiss Wildlife Conservation Award–2012
- Awards for tiger reserve management
- GoI-UNDP India Biodiversity Awards

SOUTH ASIA               
BHUTAN
- Timber smuggling in Royal Manas NP from across the border

NEPAL
- Fires hit forests, wildlife in Nepal; neighbouring PAs in India also affected
- First rhino poaching incident this year in Chitwan NP

PAKISTAN
- Disease threatens endangered Markhor population

 SPECIAL SECTION
IMPORTANT BIRD AREAS UPDATE
ASSAM
- Large scale encroachment of lakes in Kamrup district

GUJARAT
- Road proposed through Kutch Desert Sanctuary
- Over 87000 birds counted in the Khijadia Bird Sanctuary

KARNATAKA
- Vulture sanctuary planned in and around Ramdevarabetta RF

KERALA
- Birders seek protection for the Kattampally Wetlands IBA

MAHARASHTRA
- Vulture festival held at Phansad WLS
- Navi Mumbai airport less than 10 km away from Karnala Bird Sanctuary; FD withdraws forest clearance

TAMIL NADU
- 121 vultures found during census in Nilgiris district
- Rs 15.75 crore plan for Pallikaranai marsh

QUICK  NEWS                                       
FROM THE ARCHIVES: A Decade Ago                           
IN THE SUPREME COURT                               
PERSPECTIVE                                            
On vets, zoos and wildlife conservation

EDITORIAL

- An officer and a wildlife researcher -

Talk to a wildlife researcher and the one topic most likely to come up is the huge difficulty s/he faces in dealing with forest officers. The litany of complaints can be endless – no responses to research proposals or permits to conduct research; inordinate delays if permits are eventually granted; permissions denied for no ostensible reason, leave alone an explanation; and harassment and allegations, particularly when research results show the managers in poor light
    Almost every scientist who has tried to study the wild has had a couple of such experiences. A few years ago a well-known research team was hounded out of the Panna Tiger Reserve for calling the bluff of tiger numbers in the reserve. More recently, another researcher made public his experience and his frustration in getting permits from the Maharashtra Forest Department for a project seeking to study the state of the endangered Forest owlet in Central India and only a few weeks ago two young researchers from the Indian Institute of Science were arrested for ‘hunting’ in the Panna Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh - they had been found with a couple of scorpions, a skink and a skink’s tail in their possession. The law, as they say is an ass, but surely this is not about the law alone. There are deeper and more serious issues at stake here.
    There is the other side to the story as well and one that can be got easily from that other side. Talk to those in the forest service, those who work as managers and legal guardians of the forests and wildlife and another list of complaints emerges quite consistently: researchers who focus on esoteric questions that have no relevance for management of or conservation in the landscape they are studying; researchers who are interested in little more than their permits, research results and papers; and researchers who make endless demands on the already stretched infrastructure and then leave without as much as sharing their research findings.
    This is bound to end in a stalemate, particularly with each side talking past and not to, each other. Jairam Ramesh, when he was at the environment and forests ministry, had tried resolving this stalemate through proposed amendments to the research clauses in the Wildlife Protection Act (WLPA). Nothing surely seems to have come of that. That a solution should be found to this problem is stating the obvious; the bigger challenge would be to find the means and the mechanisms to do this. The first and perhaps the most important step would be to start discussing the issues. It is only when experiences and expectations are laid out openly that there can be a possibility of finding common ground.
    It is in this context that the recent issue of the wildlife magazine Sanctuary Asia (Vol XXXII, No. 2) makes very relevant reading – the lead feature has prominent field biologists reflecting on their profession, those from their community and on their relationship with others including the forest department. In her recent book on the history of conservation in India, (Conservation at the Crossroads, Permanent Black 2010) field biologist Ghazala Shahabuddin has outlined a well-thought-out and detailed roadmap for research in wildlife, and only in the last issue of the Protected Area Update (Vol. XVIII, No. 2, April 2012) Sonali Ghosh shared her experiences of being both a forester and a researcher and made a plea for collaboration, even noting that the grass can be green on both sides.
    It is in the continuation of such articulations and in joint effort alone that some important bridges can be built. These, in fact, need to be built urgently if the wildlife and wilderness that they claim to represent and care for are to survive into the future. The last thing that is needed is a skirmish between an officer and a wildlife researcher!

----

Protected Area Update
Vol. XVIII, No. 3, June 2012 (No. 97)
Editor: Pankaj Sekhsaria
Editorial Assistance: Reshma Jathar, Anuradha Arjunwadkar
Illustrations: Madhuvanti Anantharajan, Peeyush Sekhsaria
Produced by
The Documentation and Outreach Centre, Kalpavriksh
Ideas, comments, news and information may please be sent to the editorial address:

KALPAVRIKSH
Apartment 5, Shri Dutta Krupa, 908 Deccan Gymkhana, Pune 411004, Maharashtra, India.
Tel/Fax: 020 – 25654239. Email: psekhsaria@gmail.com Website: http://kalpavriksh.org/protected-area-update
Publication of the PA Update has been supported by

- Foundation for Ecological Security (FES)
 http://fes.org.in/
- Duleep Matthai Nature Conservation Trust
 C/o FES
- World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) - India
- Bombay Natural History Society
- Donations from a number of individual supporters

Information has been sourced from different newspapers and
http://indiaenvironmentportal.org.in

-----


THE ‘PA UPDATES FOR A 1000 FOREST STAFF Initiative

It is a matter of great satisfaction for the team at the Protected Area Update and at Kalpavriksh that the newsletter will be soon hitting the century mark. In its 18th year of uninterrupted publication, the PA Update's 100th issue will be published in a few months time. We would like to thank all our supporters, well wishers and readers and hope that we will continue for another 100 issues as well, if not more.
    There is surely great scope for improvement in what the newsletter covers, how it is produced and how we reach out to an interested and relevant readership. As an effort at increasing the readership, particularly amongst the forest and wildlife staff, those at the very frontlines of conservation effort, we are launching this 'PA Updates for a 1000 forest staff' initiative.
    It has been prompted by feedback to us that field staff often do not know what is happening in the policy arena, in other parts of the country and sometimes even in their own backyard.
    We have set ourselves a target of being able to raise enough resources in six months time so that the 100th issue of the PA Update will go out to a set of 1000 forest staff with your support. We would like to request and encourage you to subscribe to the PA Update on behalf of forest staff - the more you can support the better. You tell us which particular state, region, protected area or particular individual or office in the forest staff you would like to reach out to and we will use your gift subscription to send the PA Update to that person or set of persons for a period of one year.
    The annual subscription for this initiative of the PA Update will be only Rs. 100/-. You can support 100 such subscriptions or you can support just one!
    We are sure you will agree that this is a campaign worth undertaking and that we will also get your support and contributions for this. If you need any more information or details, please do let me know. Please also circulate this widely on other networks that you might be part of and send us suggestions or ideas of how to make this successful are very welcome indeed.

Thanking you
Pankaj Sekhsaria
Editor, Protected Area Update,

Monday, April 23, 2012

Can I get a recycled book, please?

Can I get a recycled book, please?
PANKAJ SEKHSARIA

The Hindu Young World
http://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/kids/article3319934.ece

Would it surprise you if you were told that Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix, the fifth in the Harry Potter series. that you read in India may have been different from what a friend of yours read at the same time in Canada? And the same for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince?

Yes, there was a difference for sure, but it was not with the story that JK Rowling wrote. The stories were the same; the difference was in the way the books was produced. The 2003 “Order of the Phoenix” and the 2005 “Half-Blood Prince” were both printed in Canada on 100 per cent recycled paper in an explicit move to make the publishing industry more environment and forest friendly. Just this one act helped save 67,000 trees from the axe.

Green book

At the source of the initiative was a Greenpeace International Campaign to ‘green' the book publishing industry — a campaign that was supported by a number of well known authors such as JK Rowling, Ian Rankin, G√ľnter Grass, and Isabel Allende. Greenpeace had noted that a majority of publishers particularly in Europe and North America were printing their books on paper linked to the destruction of ancient forests in countries such as Finland and Canada. They also found that children's books in South East Asia were directly contributing to the destruction of rainforests in Indonesia.

While this might be a snapshot of what is happening in other parts of the world, little is known of the situation in India. A quick visit to the book store or even the street corner magazine vendor is good enough to give an idea of this boom that has taken place in publishing here. Analysts of the publishing industry estimate that there are nearly 20,000 publishers in India and we produce almost one lakh (yes, one lakh) titles every year. India today stands as the third largest publishing country in the English-speaking world and seventh largest in the world.

The impact that this will have on the demand for paper, and for the trees and bamboo that paper is made from can well be imagined. According to the Indian Paper Manufacturers Association nearly 1,000,000 tons of waste paper are being currently recovered annually for the paper industry. While this is a huge quantity it turns out this recovery rate is about 20 per cent and much lower than the 65 per cent recovery achieved by many global players. There is huge potential for improvement here and in many other big and small ways

What you can do

Many interesting initiatives already exist in India where the culture of recycling and re-use has always existed. Parents carefully keep school books of the older children for their younger siblings and there are libraries which collect these school text books and then distribute them to those who can't afford them. Not only does this ensure the multiple use of a valuable resource it also helps the environment because new books don't have to be produced. Many homes and offices have a policy of not throwing away one sided paper but putting it to use, by sometimes even converting them to writing pads. There are also more formal efforts like the Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Sanghatana (http://www.wastepickerscollective.org/) in Pune and that of the Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group (http://www.chintan-india.org/), in Delhi that work with communities involved in recycling waste to give them financial security, better working conditions and health care along with dignity and respect.

There is a bit that each one of us can also do. The effort actually needed is not a very big one, but the satisfaction this would give and the contribution it would make is huge.

Friday, March 23, 2012

PROTECTED AREA UPDATE - April 2012

PROTECTED AREA UPDATE
News and Information from protected areas in India and South Asia
Vol. XVIII No. 2
April 2012 (No. 96)

LIST OF CONTENTS
EDITORIAL
- The relocation conundrum

NEWS FROM INDIAN STATES
ARUNACHAL PRADESH
- MoEF over-rules independant experts, grants wildlife clearance for Lower Demwe HEP

ASSAM
- Manas NP receives four rhinos from Kaziranga
- No new stone crusher or any other industrial unit around Kaziranga NP

JHARKHAND
- Sniffer dog traces 32 kg ivory in Dalma WLS

KARNATAKA
- Five protected areas expanded
- Special Tiger Protection Force deployed in Karnataka
- Kudremukh TR proposal dropped; no expansion of Bhadra TR
- Task force constituted for mitigation of human-elephant conflict in Karnataka

KERALA
- Agitation planned against delay in relocation from Wayanad WLS

MADHYA PRADESH
- 1,700 vultures counted in Panna Tiger Reserve
- NGOs, activists allege atrocities in Satpura TR; demand implementation of FRA

MAHARASHTRA
- New sanctuaries adjoining Nagzira WLS, Bor WLS and Navegaon NP
- Jamni villagers set for relocation from Tadoba – Andhari TR
- Additional Rs. 3665.50 lakhs allocated for relocation of two villages from Melghat TR

MEGHALAYA
- Exercise for Bird inventory, REDD+ feasibility carried out in Balpakram Baghmara Landscape

ORISSA
- Number of Irrawaddy dolphins in Chilika drops to 145
- Orissa to set up elephant-friendly electricity structures

RAJASTHAN
- GPS monitoring of wildlife in Sariska TR
- Umri village moved out of Sariska TR
- Conservation Reserve status for Jawai Bandh forests

TAMIL NADU
- FD to create fodder resources for elephants in Coimbatore division
- Tribals oppose proposal for Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve

UTTARAKHAND
- Inspection reveals poor condition of private captive elephants in Corbett NP
- NGT orders no tree felling on forestland diverted for Alaknanda-Badrinath HEP

WEST BENGAL
- West Bengal to compensate tea-garden workers’ losses caused by elephants
- Tourism facilities to be upgraded at Buxa TR

SOUTH ASIA
BANGLADESH
- Five-year long awareness campaign launched in Sundarbans
- NTPC power project near Sundarbans

INTERNATIONAL NEWS
- Countries agree to crack down on trade in tiger parts

SPECIAL SECTION
IMPORTANT BIRD AREAS UPDATE

ANDHRA PRADESH
- Rs. Two crore project for development of Uppalapadu IBA
- Real estate threat to Pulicat lake

ARUNACHAL PRADESH
- Nyamjang Chhu hydroelectric project threat to the Zemithang IBA

GUJARAT
- Proposal to expand Kutch Bustard Sanctuary by 37 sq kms
- Maldharis demand FRA titles over grasslands in the Banni IBA

MAHARASHTRA
- Gangewadi grassland included in GIB Sanctuary

ORISSA
- Census indicates 13 pc decline in birds at Chilika

UTTAR PRADESH
- Metro station to be named after Okhla Bird Sanctuary

THE SUPREME COURT
PRESS RELEASE: WORKSHOP - Fishery-Dependent Livelihoods, Conservation and
Sustainable Use of Biodiversity: The Case of Marine and Coastal Protected Areas in India
Quick NEWS
FROM THE ARCHIVES: A Decade Ago
PERSPECTIVE
The grass can be green on both sides: Musings of a forester turned researcher

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EDITORIAL
'The relocation conundrum'

Maybe ‘violent controversy’ is a better term to describe the history of relocation from protected areas and the debates around this issue. Much has been said, argued, alleged and refuted in what is without doubt one of the most important, complex and unresolved issues on the conservation canvas of the country.
There is no common understanding, leave alone unanimity on the most basic of questions around relocation: Is relocation necessary at all? What’s wrong if people are willing to relocate voluntarily? What is voluntary relocation to begin with? What should be the process of relocation if there is a willingness? Should it be land for land or will financial compensation compensate justly?
For a while it appeared that the relocation issue had gone onto the back burner because we were not hearing about it a lot. It never disappeared for sure, because it was central in many of the discussions around the declaration of Critical Tiger Habitats, Critical Wildlife Habitats and the Scheduled Tribes and Other Forest Dwellers Forest Rights Act, to name just a few of the larger policy and legal instruments. The sense one is now beginning to get is that a lot is happening on the ground; a lot more, that is, than in the recent past. This is what information and experiences from the ground seem to suggest and news reports in this issue of the PA Update, are perhaps, an indication of that.
A 2nd village from the Sariska Tiger Reserve has been moved recently, the 2nd phase of relocation has started from the Tadoba-Andhari TR in Maharashtra and a huge allocation has been approved for relocation from the Melghat Tiger Reserve in the same state. There have been some reports that successful relocation has prompted more families to come forward for the same. There is an agitation against the proposed Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve for fear of losing livelihoods (fear of relocation must certainly be on their minds as well) while in neighbouring Kerala the agitation is for just the opposite. Those living in the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary here are upset that the scheme for their relocation is not being implemented promptly.
The issue might be relocation but five different stories seem to emerge from these five different sites. Are these reconcilable for us to have an overarching policy that is acceptable to all and can be made to work? How does one ensure the fundamental non-negotiables of equity, justice and sustainability? What values do we want to uphold and what will be the process to make that happen?
Puzzle, mystery, poser, riddle, problem, challenge…conundrum has many synonyms and clearly they all hold true when we discuss relocation from protected areas.

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Protected Area Update
Vol. XVIII, No. 2, April 2012 (No. 96)
Editor: Pankaj Sekhsaria
Editorial Assistance: Reshma Jathar, Anuradha Arjunwadkar
Illustrations: Madhuvanti Anantharajan, Peeyush Sekhsaria
Produced by
The Documentation and Outreach Centre, Kalpavriksh
Ideas, comments, news and information may please be sent to the editorial address:

KALPAVRIKSH
Apartment 5, Shri Dutta Krupa, 908 Deccan Gymkhana, Pune 411004, Maharashtra, India.
Tel/Fax: 020 – 25654239. Email: psekhsaria@gmail.com Website: http://kalpavriksh.org/protected-area-update

---
Publication of the PA Update has been supported by

Foundation for Ecological Security (FES)
http://fes.org.in/
Duleep Matthai Nature Conservation Trust
C/o FES
Donations from a number of individual supporters

Information has been sourced from different newspapers and

http://indiaenvironmentportal.org.in
-----

THE ‘PA UPDATES FOR A 1000 FOREST STAFF Initiative

It is a matter of great satisfaction for the team at the Protected Area Update and at Kalpavriksh that the newsletter will be soon hitting the century mark. In it's 18th year of uninterrupted publication, the PA Update's 100th issue will be published in a few months time. We would like to thank all our supporters, well wishers and readers and hope that we will continue for another 100 issues as well if not more.
There is surely great scope for improvement in what the newsletter covers, how it is produced and how we reach out to an interested and relevant readership. As one effort at increasing the readership, particularly amongst the forest and wildlife staff, those at the very frontlines of conservation effort, we are launching this 'PA Updates for a 1000 forest staff' initiative.
It has been prompted by feedback to us that field staff often do not know what is happening in the policy arena, in other parts of the country and sometimes even in their own backyard.
We have set ourselves a target of being able to raise enough resources in six months time so that the 100th issue of the PA Update will go out to a set of 1000 forest staff with your support. We would like to request and encourage you to subscribe to the PA Update on behalf of forest staff - the more you can support the better. You tell us which particular state, region, protected area or particular individual or office in the forest staff you would like to reach out to and we will use your gift subscription to send the PA Update to that person or set of persons for a period of one year.
The annual subscription for this initiative of the PA Update will be only Rs. 100/-. You can support 100 such subscriptions or you can support even one!
We are sure you will agree that this is a campaign worth undertaking and that we will also get your support and contributions for this. If you need any more information or details, please certainly let me know. Please also circulate this widely on other networks that you might be part of and any other suggestions or ideas of how to make this successful are very welcome indeed.

Friday, March 9, 2012

THE PA UPDATE FOR A 1000 FOREST STAFF Initiative

Need support for this...
THE PA UPDATE FOR A 1000 FOREST STAFF Initiative

Dear Friends,
The PA Update is a bi-monthly newsletter published by Kalpavriksh that carries news and information on wildlife and protected areas from around the country. It is a matter of great satisfaction for the team at the Protected Area Update and at Kalpavriksh that the newsletter will be soon hitting the century mar...k. In it's 17 year of uninterrupted publication the PA Update's 100th issue will be published in a few months time. We would like to thank all our supporters, well wishers and readers and hope that we will continue for another 100 issues as well if not more.
There is surely great scope for improvement in what the newsletter covers, how it is produced and how we reach out to an interested and relevant readership. As one effort at increasing the readership particularly amongst the forest and wildlife staff, those at the very frontlines of conservation effort, we are launching this 'PA Updates for a 1000 forest staff' initiative.
It has been prompted by feedback to us that often field staff often do not know what is happening in the policy arena, in other parts of the country and often even in their own backyard.
We have set ourselves a target of being able to raise enough resources in six months time so that the 100th issue of the PA Update will go out to a set of 1000 forest staff with your support. We would like to request and encourage you to subscribe to the PA Update on behalf of forest staff - the more you can support the better. You tell us which particular state, region, protected area or particular individual or office in the forest staff you would like to reach out to and we will use your gift subscription to send the PA Update to that person or set of persons for a period of one year.
As we have mentioned in recent mails the annual subscription for the PA Update is Rs. 150, but for this campaign the annual subscription will be only Rs. 100/-. You can support 100 such subscriptions or you can support even one!

We are sure you will agree that this is a campaign worth undertaking and that we will also get your support and contributions for this. If you need any more information or details, please certainly let me know. Please also circulate this widely on other networks that you might be part of and any other suggestions or ideas of how to make this successful are very welcome indeed.

Thanking you
Pankaj Sekhsaria
Editor, Protected Area Update
C/o Kalpavriksh
Email: psekhsaria@gmail.com

Monday, February 6, 2012

An intricate web

PANKAJ SEKHSARIA

http://www.thehindu.com/arts/magazine/article2857008.ece
Unlike the rest of India, tribal rights and conservation are not at the opposite ends of the spectrum in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Yet, there are challenges.

In a national scenario where wildlife conservation and tribal rights have ended up at the extreme ends of an acrimonious spectrum, the situation in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands stands out in stark relief. We have here a situation where the protection of the indigenous peoples, the forests and the islands' biodiversity including its rich bird life are all intricately linked. Evidence suggests, in fact, that forests protected legally in the islands as tribal reserves are more important for wildlife and biodiversity conservation than the protected area network created under the provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act.

Wildlife conservation

The islands have 105 protected areas (wildlife sanctuaries and national parks) which constitute a significant percentage of the all India number of a little over 600. Yet, it has been argued that they don't actually play an important ecological role in the islands. Most of these protected areas (PAs) are tiny islands and rocky outcrops that sometimes have an area of as little as a few hectares. The largest forest area protected for wildlife in the Andamans, for instance, is the 133 sq km Interview Island Wildlife Sanctuary. Importantly, this island experienced intense and sustained timber extraction operations till about the middle of the 1960s. Compare this with the 1,000 sq km Jarawa Tribal Reserve that is spread over three large islands (South, Middle and North Andaman) and the implications are obvious. That a significant part of this tribal reserve has never been subject to any timber extraction operations underlines the importance of the reserve from an ecological and biodiversity point of view.

That the islands are important for bird conservation here is evident in the fact that 19 areas have been identified here as Important Bird Areas under a programme coordinated by the Bombay Natural History Society. Significantly, six of the 19 IBAs are those areas that are designated as tribal reserves. These include the islands of Car Nicobar, Great Nicobar, Little Nicobar, Tillangchong, Camorta, Katchal, Nancowry and Trinkat, all in the Nicobar Islands (they have been together classified into three different IBAs) and the Jarawa Reserve, Little Andaman, and North and South Sentinel in the Andaman group of islands.

Tribal reserves

At the heart of the story, then, is the Andaman and Nicobar Protection of Aboriginal Tribes Regulation (ANPATR) that was created in 1956 and under whose provisions large areas of forests and adjoining seas have been designated as tribal reserves. This includes the entire group of the Nicobar Islands (about 1,900 sq km) and four tribal reserves in the Andaman Islands (nearly 1,600 sq km). The Andaman reserves are named after the four aboriginal negrito communities that have been living in these islands for at least 40,000 years: the Great Andamanese, the Jarawas, the Onge and the Sentinelese. These reserves, then, are not just critical to ensure the natural resource base and cultural security of these tribal communities, they are central also to the ecological security of this unique group of islands. Research over the years by a host of organisations including the A&N Forest Department, the Zoological and Botanical Surveys of India, the Andaman and Nicobar Environment Team and the Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History has shown that these tribal reserves have some of the most pristine mangroves, coastal systems, turtle nesting beaches, tropical evergreen forests and a number of other important habitats that still survive in these islands.

Conservation challenges

The challenges, however, are more complex than they appear at first. One of the biggest has been the large influx of people from mainland India. The population in the islands has grown six fold from about 60,000 in 1960 to an estimated 3,80,000 today as per 2011 census. The population of the indigenous communities on the other hand (Onges – 100 and the Jarawas – 375) is extremely small and has remained steady over the many decades. The situation clearly demands careful intervention. One such framework was provided by the orders of the Supreme Court, which were passed in 2002 in response to a public interest litigation filed by non-governmental organisations. The court had asked for putting in place an inner line area system to prevent the influx of people, stopping commercial timber extraction, removal of encroachments, phasing out of sand mining from the island's beaches, use of appropriate construction materials, closure of the Andaman and Nicobar Forest Plantation and Development Corporation that had been logging the forests of Little and Middle Andaman since the 1970s; and closure of the Andaman Trunk Road (ATR) where it runs through and along the forests in the Jarawa Reserve.

Nearly a decade later, many of these orders have not been implemented. The population influx continues, little effort has been made to move to more island-friendly methods of construction and the ATR still remains open to traffic. The Member of Parliament for the islands recently even argued for the mainstreaming of the Jarawa and for the denotification of the Jarawa Tribal Reserve so that the land and forests could be made available for development.

Other new challenges are also showing up on the canvas. In October 2011, the National Board for Wildlife was asked to give permission to the Indian Navy to set up a temporary missile testing site on the Tillangchong Island in the Nicobar group. A decision on this is still awaited but here is a classic illustration of what this article is all about. Tillangchong Island is a wildlife sanctuary and an Important Bird Area with important populations of the endemic Nicobar Megapode. It is a tribal reserve under the provisions of the ANPATR and is also of traditional cultural and religious importance to the Nicobari tribal community. The challenges and the opportunities are as clear as they can be!

Pankaj Sekhsaria is a member of the environmental organisation Kalpavriksh.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Protected Area Update, February 2012

PROTECTED AREA UPDATE
News and Information from protected areas in India and South Asia
Vol. XVIII No. 1
February 2012 (No. 95)

LIST OF CONTENTS
EDITORIAL
Wildlife’s infrastructure nightmare

NEWS FROM INDIAN STATES
ANDHRA PRADESH
- Proposed highway through Nallamala threatens tiger population

ARUNACHAL PRADESH
- New moth species discovered in Tale Valley Wildlife Sanctuary

ASSAM
- Vanya Prani Mitra Awards for forest staff
- Tea estate, permanent structures in elephant corridor in Ripu-Chirang Elephant Reserve
- Two rhinos shifted from Pobitora to Manas TR
- 14 tigers in transboundary Manas; four photographed on both sides of boundary
- Elephants run over by train in Gibbon WLS
- Tigress in Kaziranga NP shot to death by 15 bullets; police, FD hold each other responsible
- Acute funds shortage hits Assam national parks

GOA
- Exclude eco-sensitive zones from mining: WGEEP
- Goa minister challenges Mhadei WLS notification

HIMACHAL PRADESH
- Snow Leopard research centre for Spiti valley

JHARKHAND
- Elephant rescue centre at Dalma WLS

KARNATAKA
- HC upholds order for night closure of road through Nagarhole NP
- High Court says no to translocation of elephants to Cauvery WLS
- Minister seeks reconsideration of plan for extension of Pushpagiri WLS

KERALA
- Reduction in funds puts protected areas at risk
- Model to predict human-elephant conflict zones
- Survey records 176 species of butterflies in Shendurney WLS

MAHARASHTRA
- Coal mining destroying tiger habitat around Tadoba-Andhari TR: Greenpeace report
- RFOs finally appointed in Mansingdeo WLS

ORISSA
- Orissa proposes to use CAMPA funds to fix electrical lines causing elephant deaths
- Controversial Dhamra port located in the vicinity of Bhitarkanika, Gahirmatha finally commissioned

TAMIL NADU
- Tiger population in Sathyamangalam WLS at least 25
- Over 10,000 kgs of sea cucumber seized in Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve in year 2011

UTTARAKHAND
- Over 100 leopard deaths in Uttarakhand in 2011
- Twice rejected by FAC, hydro-project in buffer zone of Nanda Devi BR gets MoEF approval

NATIONAL NEWS FROM INDIA
- Sanctuary Asia Wildlife Awards -2011
- Solar power driven systems installed in 15 TRs
- Any citizen entitled to move Green panel: NGT
- Elephant population on the rise in the country
- MoEF seeks hike in funds for two wildlife schemes
- Virtual fencing to protect forests, wildlife
- 51 tigers died in 2011
- Nation-wide bear survey

SOUTH ASIA
SRI LANKA
- Sri Lanka allocates Rs 1,120 million for elephants for 2012

INTERNATIONAL NEWS
- Joint raid in four countries against wildlife trade

IN THE SUPREME COURT

SPECIAL SECTION - IMPORTANT BIRD AREAS UPDATE

ANDHRA PRADESH
- Five year management plan for Pulicat lake
- Fear over impact on Kolleru WLS of drilling in the K-G basin

GUJARAT
- Greater Flamingoes being electrocuted by high tension power lines in Kutch and Bhavnagar
- Real estate development, industrialization threaten Nal Sarovar

HIMACHAL PRADESH
- Satellite-collared Ruddy Shelduck returns to Pong Lake WLS from China

KERALA
- Hornbill nesting sites to be monitored with help of tribal community

MAHARASHTRA
- Flamingo sanctuary proposed along Thane creek in Mumbai
- Mumbai Trans Harbour Link to impact Sewri Mudflats; NGO seeks re-alignment of route

RAJASTHAN
- Shonkalia grassland near Ajmer to be developed keeping GIB and Lesser florican in mind

NATIONAL NEWS
- Recovery plan for GIB and Lesser Florican

FROM THE ARCHIVES: A Decade Ago
PERSPECTIVE
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EDITORIAL
'Wildlife’s infrastructure nightmare'

More roads that penetrate deeper, railway lines that connect better and faster, dam projects for power and irrigation, coal mining for more electricity, high-tension power lines to evacuate that electricity…. This is one side of India’s infrastructure and constantly lauded growth story.
There is another side to that very story which reads something like the following: Roads that cut through rich forests, railways lines that regularly kill elephants, dam projects that drown pristine forests and wildlife habitats, coal mining that rips apart tiger corridors, high tension lines that kill elephants in Orissa and flamingoes in Gujarat…
From the Nallamalla forests of Andhra Pradesh to the valley of the Alaknanda in Uttarakhand; from the elephant forests of Orissa to the Great Rann of Kutch in Gujarat – the story is the same – what is unfolding is nothing short of a nightmare for India’s wildlife. The infrastructure for our automobiles, power and lifestyles is leaving nothing of the natural infrastructure that the wild denizens need. As we travel faster, longer, and deeper and as the GDP becomes the only mantra, the elephants, the tigers, the leopards and even the flamingoes are getting hemmed in more and more with every passing day.
The fate of the flamingoes in Gujarat highlights this starkly. Their only option on being disturbed at night by vehicular noise in the Great Rann was to fly into high-tension wires hanging above and get charred instantly. Between the vehicle and the wire, India’s beleaguered wildlife is getting sandwiched and slaughtered like never before.
One ‘eco’ – the economic is soaring as everything ecologic is being torn to shreds. The tragic irony is that the same system sells to us and to the world the prowling tiger, the gamboling elephant, the soaring birds and, yes, the dancing tribal as ‘Incredible India’. We at the PA Update are part of a small crowd that’s watching on with incredulity. And with despair.
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PROTECTED AREA UPDATE
Vol. XVIII, No. 1, February 2012 (No. 95)
Editor: Pankaj Sekhsaria
Editorial Assistance: Reshma Jathar, Anuradha Arjunwadkar
Illustrations: Madhuvanti Anantharajan, Peeyush Sekhsaria
Produced by:
The Documentation and Outreach Centre, Kalpavriksh
Ideas, comments, news and information may please be sent to the editorial address:

KALPAVRIKSH
Apartment 5, Shri Dutta Krupa, 908 Deccan Gymkhana, Pune 411004, Maharashtra, India.
Tel/Fax: 020 – 25654239. Email: psekhsaria@gmail.com Website: http://kalpavriksh.org/protected-area-update

Publication of the PA Update has been supported by

- Foundation for Ecological Security (FES)
http://fes.org.in/
- Duleep Matthai Nature Conservation Trust
C/o FES
- Donations from a number of individual supporters
---
Information has been sourced from different newspapers and
http://indiaenvironmentportal.org.in

'Because Andaman's forests are Jarawa infested …'

Pankaj Sekhsaria
http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/article2811842.ece

Infestation, in'fes•ta'tion n. the state of being invaded or overrun by pests or parasites. Do people inhabit the lands and forests that they have been living in for thousands of years or do they infest them? The answer to this no-brainer of a question might well lie at the root of the problem being faced by the Jarawas in the Andaman Islands today. The video showing the Jarawa women dancing on the Andaman Trunk Road, apparently for food, is just the latest manifestation of a malaise that is so deep that one might well argue that there is no hope for the Jarawa.

In 1965, the Ministry of Rehabilitation, Government of India, published an important document related to the Andaman & Nicobar Islands: ‘The Report by the Inter Departmental Team on Accelerated Development Programme for A&N Islands.' The contents of the report and their purpose were evident in the title itself — it laid out the roadmap for the development of these islands and set the stage for what was to happen over the decades that have followed.

This little known report of less than a 100 pages in size is remarkable for the insight it provides into the thinking and the mindset of the times. There is what one might call a shocker on every page of this document and here is a just a sampling:

Page 26: …The Jarawas have been uniformly hostile to all outsiders with the result that about half the Middle Andaman is treated as a Jarawa infested (emphasis added) area which is difficult for any outsider to venture… With the present road construction and the colonisation of the forest fringes, friction has become more frequent, and no month passes without a case of attack by the Jarawas.

Page 69: The completion of the Great Andaman Trunk Road would go a long way to help in the extraction of forest produces...

A nation that had just fought its way out of the ignominy of being a colony was well on the way to becoming a coloniser itself. And those that came in the way could only be pests or parasites infesting the forests that had valuable resources locked away from productive use.

It is also pertinent to note here that in 1957 itself, more than a 1000 sq. km of these “Jarawa infested” forests of South and Middle Andaman had already been declared protected as a Jarawa Tribal Reserve under the provisions of the Andaman and Nicobar Protection of Aboriginal Tribes Regulation (ANPATR) — 1956. The 1965 report was in complete violation, or was a result of complete ignorance of this legal protection to the Jarawa and the forests that they have inhabited for thousands of years.

The seeds that were sown then have bloomed into myriad noxious weeds today and if one knows this history, the latest video that has generated so much heat is not in the bit surprising. Much space in the media, both print and electronic, has been occupied in the last few days by a range of claims and counter claims — about the date of the video, about the police involvement in its making, the role of tour operators and about fixing blame and responsibility. A little known fact that lies at the root of the issue has been all but forgotten — the existence of the Andaman Trunk Road, where this infamous video was shot about three years ago. The Andaman Trunk Road that the 1965 report offered as a good way of extracting resources from the forests of the Jarawa had been ordered shut by a Supreme Court order of 2002.

It's been a decade now and in what can only be called audacious defiance, the administration of this little Union Territory has wilfully violated orders of the highest court of the land. A series of administrators have come and gone but contempt for the Supreme Court remains.

Whenever asked about the order, the administration has tried to hide behind technicalities of interpreting the court order and arguing that the court had never ordered the road shut in the first place. They forget that in March 2003, a few months after the SC orders had been passed, they had themselves filed an affidavit with a plea to “permit the use/movement through the Andaman Trunk Road.” If it was not ordered shut, why the plea to keep it open? A few months later, in July 2003, the Supreme Court appointed Central Empowered Committee reiterated explicitly that the court orders include those for the closure of the ATR in those parts where it runs through the forests of the Jarawa Tribal Reserve. The A&N administration has clearly violated the court's order both in letter and in spirit.

It is a spirit that was evocatively articulated by Dr. R.K. Bhattacharchaya, former Director of the Anthropological Survey of India, in a report he submitted to the Calcutta High Court in 2004. “The ATR”, he said, “is like a public thoroughfare through a private courtyard… In the whole of human history, we find that the dominant group for their own advantage has always won over the minorities, not always paying attention to the issue of ethics. Closure of the ATR would perhaps be the first gesture of goodwill on part of the dominant towards an acutely marginalized group almost on the verge of extinction”.

The video in all its perversity offers us another opportunity, when all others in the past have been brushed aside either due to ignorance, arrogance or then sheer apathy. It's still not too late to make that ‘gesture of goodwill' because otherwise there will be many more such videos down the years and much worse will follow. The lessons from history are very clear on this. And it will hardly be a consolation that a few people will be left saying we told you so.

(The writer is associated with Kalpavriksh, one of the three NGOs whose petition before the Supreme Court resulted in orders for the closure of the Andaman Trunk Road in 2002. He is also the author of Troubled Islands — Writings on the indigenous peoples and environment of the A&N Islands.)




This is a three picture set that shows a Jarawa woman being given some eatables by the driver of a passenger bus on that section of the Andaman Trunk Road that has been ordered shut by the Supreme Court. The pictures were taken in February 2003, a few months after the SC orders of May 2002, and were also submitted to the Supreme Court-appointed Central Empowered Committee as evidence of continued and undesirable interaction taking place on the Andaman Trunk Road. I was sitting inside and at the back end of the bus when taking the pictures. Photo: Pankaj Sekhsaria