Month Year: December 2002
Wildlife Service Award
Samir Acharya is the founder of the Port Blair-based Society for Andaman & Nicobar Ecology (SANE). This has been one of the most active environmental groups in the islands for more than a decade. Acharya has played a critical role in drawing attention to both the fragile environment and the threatened tribal communities of this precious and spectacular island ecosystem.
He has also fought consistently to save them from destruction. He continues to wage this battle, often single-handedly against all odds, with tenacity, and deep commitment. A quiet worker, he has nevertheless played a critical role in bringing island issues to the notice of a subcontinent that is self-obsessed and tends to regard environmental and tribal issues in distant islands as irrelevant to their lives. The national and international media have learned to rely on Acharya for the truth that invariably lies behind the truth. SANE is a co-petitioner in a Public Interest Litigation filed in the Supreme Court on the matter of deforestation in the Andamans and the harm being done to local tribal cultures including the Jarawa and the Onge.
In October 2001, the Supreme Court issued orders to stop all tree-felling in the A&N islands. Subsequently, a detailed set of orders were passed by the Court in May 2002, that provide the islands and their indigenous people with their best hope of survival. This legal campaign and the results achieved would have been impossible if not for Samir Acharya and SANE.
First published in: Sanctuary Asia, Vol XXII No. 6, December 2002.