Port Blair, May 25: The Member of Parliament of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Shri. Kuldeep Rai Sharma recently called on the Chief Secretary of A & N Administration and appraised him about a serious issue being faced by villagers of Tushanbad, Mithakhari, Chouldari, Humpherygunj and Wandoor areas.

The Member of Parliament mentioned that it has been brought to his knowledge by villagers of various South Andaman areas that eleven revenue villages are encircled to the existing Wildlife Sanctuary Lohabarrack i.e.  Tirur, Herberatbad (part), Collinpur, Mahwah Dera, Hobdypur, Bhalughat, Muslim Basthi (Part) Lohabarrack, Chouldari (part) Mamyo & North Wandoor.

He said that apart from these villages the Malabar Coconut Farming Coop Society Kurumadera, Beach Dera Coconut Farming Society, Hobdypur Coconut Farming Cooperative Society, Bangashree Coconut Farming Society and Zenith Multipurpose Cooperative Society are the man-made heritages comprised within the vicinity of the proposed eco sensitive zone are being affected. 

He added that out of the above revenue villages two villages viz. Hobdypur and Muslim basthi are the settlements of pre-independence and other villages are settled under various schemes of the Government of India and the A&N Administration prior to 1960. The Malabar and other four Coconut farming Cooperative societies were established between the year 1955 & 1960, whereas the Zenith Multipurpose cooperative society was established during the year 1994. Most of the Coconut farming societies is promoting their area/premises as eco-friendly tourist spots/locations by creating minimum required eco-friendly infrastructures and thereby to generate employments to local unemployed youths.

He mentioned that about 35% of the population of the revenue villages stated above are fishers and having fishing licenses, and their source of income for livelihood is only fishing within the limit of territorial water using wooden and dug out dinghies. They do not have well equipped boats with mechanized fishing gears. The fishers of these villages are already facing problems to venture deep sea catches by notifying the Crocodile Sanctuary Lohabarrack since, 1983. Prior to notifying the Crocodile Sanctuary by the Department of Environment and Forests of A&N Administration it was a common public water way for fishers and other stakeholders of the surrounding villages.

 “In spite of having the right to way/passage the fishers suffered a lot and faced court cases also for using the notified sanctuary as their passage to venture deep sea for fishing. Similarly, non-availability of an identified fish landing point/jetty between Collinpur and Lohabarrack village is another problem being faced by the local fishers to keep their wooden boats /dinghies and fishing nets etc. The fish landing jetties and other facilities available at Wandoor & Guptapara is not easily accessible to the fishers settled between Tirur and Lohabarrack villages. Being the permanent residents within a radius of 10 km of Salt Water Crocodile Sanctuary the fishers and other stakeholders are entitled for the rights guaranteed by the law & Wild Life Protection Act, 1972. If an area of 1 km/1000 mtr is notified as eco sensitive zone/ buffer zone around the Marine Wilde Life Sanctuary (Crocodile Sanctuary) it may affect the living of local residents, fishers, small traders   and the units of tourism of the entire locality,” he added.

The Member of Parliament added that the geographical area of South Andaman District is 2672 sq.km and out of which 2266 sq km is forest land/cover, the remaining area/revenue land is only 406 sq. km in South Andaman. It is also fact that a major portion out of the 406 sq.km of revenue land has already been utilized for settlements, construction of NH and village roads and other developmental activities. If restrictions are imposed to the extent of 1 km which is proposed as eco sensitive zone/buffer zone of Marine Wild Life Sanctuary Lohabarrack the people settled in the revenue villages as stated above have to experience lot of difficulties to earn their livelihood.

He added that the notified Lohabarrack sanctuary is the habitat of Salt Water Crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus) and no other reptiles are reported within the limits of this sanctuary. The vicinity, especially the revenue land between the crocodile sanctuary and the settlement villages are not the habitat of any one of the wild lives/animals scheduled under Wild Life Protection Act, 1972. Apart from the proposed eco-sensitive zone around the Marine Wildlife Sanctuary Lohabarrack is not the resting places of the salt water crocodiles. The resting place/area of the salt water crocodiles is confined to the inter-tidal area i.e. between the Low and High tide water lines only. “Thus notifying an area of 1(one) km as eco sensitive zone between the notified boundaries of the marine wild life sanctuary Lohabarrack towards the villages and other man made heritages on the allotted revenue land is not required as resting places for the salt water crocodiles,” he added.

He mentioned that there was government revenue land on record known as “abadi’ for future allotments for developments. Now the extend of such abadi land have been reduced to a great extent and if more revenue land/area is protected as eco sensitive zones imposing restrictions it will affect the coming generations also. “Thus it is necessary to look it to all these points prior to notifying the proposed eco sensitive zones for Marine Wild Life Sanctuary Lohabarrack,” he pointed out.

Hence the Member of Parliament requested the Chief Secretary that considering these points relaxation may kindly be given to the people  settled in the revenue villages and the stake holders   by notifying the proposed eco sensitive zones as 0 (zero) km from High Tide Line (HTL) towards  the settlement  villages, coconut plantations and other man made heritages  around the proposed zone for Marine wild life Sanctuary Lohabarrack and  the people/fishers  may be allowed to enjoy the existing relaxations such as  rights to passage through the Marine Wild Life Sanctuary  and other relaxation eligible to the permanent inhabitants of the revenue villages settled within a radius of 10 km around  the  Marine Wild life Sanctuary Lohabarrack under Wild life Protection Act.1972.