Traffic triples on highway that threatens Jarawa tribe

The Andaman Trunk Road, which the Indian Supreme Court ruled must be closed six years ago because it threatens the Jarawa tribe, has seen a threefold increase in traffic since 2001.

The highway runs through the land of the 300-strong Jarawa, who have only had contact with outsiders since 1998. The Supreme Court ordered the local authorities on the Andaman Islands to close the road in 2002, but they have kept it open in violation of the order, and have tried to get the order revoked.

According to the local authorities, the figure for vehicular traffic on the road was 17,315 in 2001, and rose to 37,505 in 2006. There were 27,674 vehicles travelling the road in only the first seven months of 2007.

Survival and local organisations have campaigned for many years for the closure of the road, warning that it brings settlers and poachers who steal the tribe’s game, introduce alcohol, and expose them to disease. Last year, the UN urged the Indian government to implement the Supreme Court order and close the road.

Survival’s director Stephen Corry said today, ‘As more and more people travel through the heart of the Jarawa’s land, the threat to their survival becomes ever more severe. If the Indian government is serious about preventing the extinction of yet another tribe, it must close the road.’

For further information contact Miriam Ross on (+44) (0)20 7687 8734 or email [email protected]