2EQUATIONS research “Rethink Tourism in the Andamans" undertaken in 2008, in the Andaman Islands, shows thattourism development on its coast is in near total contravention of the CRZ Notification 1991
One of the key findingsof the research is that majority of the tourism establishments are found within the No Development Zone (NDZ). Withvery few exceptions, resorts in Havelock and Neil Island including the Dolphin Resort which is permanent structureowned by Information, Publicity and Tourism Department of Andaman and Nicobar Administration, violates the CRZNotification 1991. The Peerless resort in Corbyn’s Cove located south of Port Blair, has put up permanent structureslike restaurants, changing rooms for tourists so close to the High Tide Line that the sand that is swept in from theocean has to be cleared periodically from the road and inside the resort premises!Even with the diluted provisions in the CRZ Notification, the violations by the tourism industry in the Islands are rife.We wonder what the case will be when tourism does not come stringently under the scanner. A consequence may bethat current violations (for which no punitive action has been taken so far) may then be left off the hook completely!More and more areas of the Andaman Islands are being opened up for infrastructure heavy tourism developmentsthat involve permanent constructions that are not eco-friendly. In March 2010 the Tourism Department of Andaman& Nicobar Administration has invited tenders for development of recreational and entertainment activities on ViperIsland with the aim that it be developed it as a high class tourist destination
. The facilities planned include cablecars, sky bridge, entertainment hub, game parlours, clubs, resorts, golf course, hotels and restaurants, yatch marinaetc. All of these are entirely unsuitable to the fragile island ecosystem, and result in greater water consumption in awater scarce situation. Tourism in the Islands need to significantly move away from the model of entertainment andinfrastructure driven to nature based eco-sensitive models where tourists come to experience and enjoy its uniqueecosystem and to treat it with respect. If they want games arcades or casinos or amusement parks they should beencouraged to find them elsewhere.The recently approved tourism policy of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (2009) in fact suggests that tourismdevelopment keeps in mind the extreme fragility of the islands – however its plans subsequently, as the Viper Islandtender amply demonstrates, seem to be in contradiction with stated policy. The MoEF had issued “EnvironmentGuidelines for Tourism Projects in the Andaman Islands" vide letter no 15-1/2006-IA-III dated 20th April 2006. Theseguidelines are extremely progressive, suggest that tourism projects be taken to task for negative impacts, butneedless to say have remained in the files of government offices. The tourism industry has made no bones about itsdistaste for regulation of any kind. Thus mere policy declarations and the hope for enlightened industry behaviourcannot be relied upon and stringent regulation and the will to take action on violations is the only way the islandecology can be protected from further devastation.
The Integrated Inlands Management PlanThe draft IPZ proposes to use the Integrated Islands Management Plan (IIMP) as the basis for permitting orprohibiting developmental activities. We are concerned firstly that a management plan alone is ineffective inregulating developmental activities and the past record of action against violations against the CRZ Notification servesto accentuate this concern. The IIMP should become a protocol to be followed as part of a legal instrument like theCRZ Notification.The IIMP is the responsibility of the Islands Administration as per the draft IPZ. It would be critical to delineate therole of the local self governments (and not just consultations) in preparing these in the spirit of the 73rd and 74thAmendments of the Constitution of India.Para 2 in the draft IPZ Notification requires that the IIMP is prepared with public participation and can be reviewedafter five years or at anytime, as required by the Andaman and Nicobar Islands or Lakshadweep Administration. It iscritical that the IIMP thus prepared be reviewed with public participation, instead of being reviewed at any time bythe respective administration in the island states.The draft IPZ in Section 4 points 1 and 2, refer to SO 2058(E) and SO 308 (E) as the basis for the constitution of theIslands Protection Authority. Firstly neither of these SO are listed under the Coastal Regulation section of the MoEFwebsite. Secondly, SO 308 pertains to 2006 and subsequently SO 3251 (E) of 21st December 2009 reconstituted theLakshadweep Coastal Zone Management Authority for a period of three years. Finally, these SO’s are aboutconstituting the Coastal Zone Management Authorities and NOT the Island Protection Zone Management Authority asclaimed by the draft IPZ Notification. The draft IPZ Notification thus is making incorrect and misleading statements.