PORT BLAIR: The Andaman administration has conducted the first trial of a sea-route to Baratang island, a popular tourist destination. The decision followed months of international pressure to open an alternate route to the existing Andaman Trunk Road, which cuts across the Jarawa Reserve forest, home to the protected Jarawa tribe.
The trial vessel departed Phoenix Bay Jetty en-route to Baratang around 8.00 am on Friday and reached around 11.00 am. The return journey took only 2 hours and 45 minutes, thanks to favourable currents.
Although the local administration has been monitoring the activities of the tourists inside the reserve, reports, including sexual abuse, have surfaced in the past.
In 2014, the district administration ordered an inquiry into alleged sexual abuse of Jarawa women by poachers.
Videos uploaded by tourists on YouTube showed exploitation by tourists. Videos showing tribals being asked to dance in exchange for food sparked international outrage. Previously a UN committee had asked New Delhi to close the Andaman Trunk Road. The new route will help protect the tribe from poachers.
The Association of Andaman Tour Operators has already welcomed the move of the administration to open an alternate route to Baratang though many cab operators are worried about the loss in their business, he said. Highly placed sources said initially only government boats will be allowed to ferry tourists to the Baratang Island.