Change tropical rain forest has hundreds of varieties

Change is constant. This statement is true for every ecological
system we live in and although if not solely, humans are responsible for most
of that change . Each and every action by us, especially in this generation
accounts for changes in the environment around us. Sadly not many of us are
concerned about the change that we bring culturally and ecologically, except
for a few NGO’s and activists . In a place like India the political activities
would have major impact on the ecology because of its diverse nature. Pankaj
Sekhsaria, a researcher in Science and Humanities is one of the few
environmental activists in India who studies the complex issues that arise with
these changes. Throughout the last two decades he has raised many issues like
battle against plastic, endangered wild species, the Sagarmala project and many
more. But his main interest and engagement all the time was in “The
Andaman and Nicobar Islands”. This should be no wonder considering the
uniqueness of the islands in each and every way possible.

For a place like Andaman and Nicobar islands there are mainly three
factors that we need to take into consideration for a better understanding of
it. The three factors are the environment, communities that are present there
and the type of development that needs to happen. The geographical position of
these islands account for the unique flora and fauna present there. It is home
for many varieties of plants and animals that are found nowhere else in the
world. The tropical rain forest has hundreds of varieties of forest mammals,
birds, insects and flowers. Some of these are endemic due to illegal human
activities. Coming to the demographics, it’s population is around four lakhs
and around 500 of them are native tribe communities like Jarawa ,
Sintenelese  and Nicobarese. These
islands are prone to natural calamities like earthquakes very frequently.

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Now that we know the thing that define these islands these are the main
questions raised by Pankaj  Sekhsaria as
an environmentalist over his two and half decade study of the islands. Is
Development really needed in a place like Andaman. If yes, what type and to
what extent? According to his argument, if government proposes a new type of
project to happen there so that we can boost our economy and develop, there is
an indirect impact on the culture and ecology present there. There is a very
interesting case to describe this. At the start of 2000 there was a rumour
spreading out in the andaman and Nicobar Islands that people will be able to
witness the first sunrise of the millennial. This attracted many tourists. The
Government of Andaman and Nicobar took it as an opportunity to boost its
tourism sector. Its efforts were almost to get 20000 people on a tiny Island of
katchal. Most of the visitors were foreigners. These types of events require
large amounts of natural resources to be used from those islands. Again at the
end of the event all the waste has to be dumped In The Island itself. Luckily
this never happened and number of questions were posted by the environmental groups.
This  lead to a campaign to know the real
facts behind  the event. After a
significant research the whole thing turned out to be bogus. If the event
really happened there would have been tons of waste. Events like this will
disturb the natural habitat present in the island and may also lead to
extinction of some types of species.

Another thing is the cultural exploitation in these islands. Tribes like
Jarawas have been living  on these
islands for thousands years and slowly their culture is being changed because
of the outsiders. The Jarawa have seen regular
incursions and invasions into their territory since the late 18th century.
These interactions with modern civilization peaked after the Andaman Trunk Road
(ATR), built in the 1970s, cut through the heart of their reserve forests and
brought in busloads of refugee settlers. This led to the spread of alien,
life-threatening diseases among the small, aboriginal population; a slow,
systemic change in their lifestyles; and conflicts with settlers who turned as poachers.
Moreover, many Jarawa were killed fighting their aboriginal rivals, the Great
Andamanese, as well as the British, who would often use sniffer dogs to hunt
them down. One such punitive expedition in 1925 reportedly killed at least 37
Jarawas. The Jarawa-Great Andamanese rivalry, which the British exploited, is centuries
old,  the Great Andamanese were shifted
to the tiny Strait Island, where only about 50 of them continue to live, and
the Jarawa took over many of the sites they vacated. Through the 20th century,
government-approved “contact” missions ended up spreading disease and alcohol
and tobacco addiction among forest-dwellers. They have been wooed with gifts
like fruits, fish, iron implements, utensils and red pieces of cloth, among
other things, eroding their resistance to outsiders. Evidence of their abject
surrender in the face of mass tourism came in 2012 when a video surfaced,
showing naked Jarawa women and children dancing on the ATR for food. Sexual
exploitation has become part of their precarious existence.

                                                In 2009 former
president A.P.J Abdul kalam proposed a plan to have a nuclear power plant established
in Andaman by the end of 2020. He also proposed Andaman and Nicobar
command(ANC) must have bases for static aircraft carrier and nuclear submarine
based fleet. Again in this case the government is only thinking on economic
basis. Everyone knows the frequency of earthquakes in the islands. The tsunami
caused by earthquake in 2004 affect the islands to a large extent.  The tsunami resulted in significant ground
deformation (uplift and subsidence) in the Andaman-Nicobar Islands, including
Car Nicobar. The ensuing tsunami, which devastated the coastline of Car
Nicobar, washed away huge boulders lying on the shore at Sawai Bay section in
the northern part of the island. The whole landmass was shaken during the
earthquake like a see-saw and resulted in a tilted shape. One side the whole
coastline and vegetation got submerged where as on the other the coral reefs
came out a new coastline was needed to be formed.  We know what happened to Hiroshima-Nagasaki  because of the atomic bombings , the same
story with Chernobyl disaster. Many towns had to be abandoned  near the reactor area. The probability of
things like these happening in these islands is very high, and  if a catastrophe happens in one island where
the reactor is set up. This affects tens of islands surrounding it leading to
extinction of many