Newly declared highway brews trouble for the Amazonian indigenous tribes

President Ollanta Humala of Peru declared a new National Park in the isolated, inaccessible area of Amazon known as “Sierra del Divisor”.

  • He made this declaration despite strong opposition emanating from the environmental circles in light of large scale illegal logging and cultivation of cocoa.
  • In wake of this declaration, Peru’s Congress voted on a landmark bill that effectively has the twin effects of posing adverse consequences on an already existing national park- Manu National Park (most famous Amazonian protected area) and on the natural habitat of the Amarakaeri indigenous tribes.
  • This Bill if passed would enable the regional government to construct a freeway passing through the buffer areas of both the protected areas thereby exposing the remote area to an enhanced threat of logging and an infringement of the tribes’ space.

Background

  • Construction work is already believed to have started in the area without the requisite environmental permits.
  • The Environment Ministry was set up in 2008 in Peru but is a weak body with no autonomy and support to take decisions within the Government.
  • President is in support of this as he believes that the construction of the highway would provide the tribes access to Government schools, hospitals and other facilities which they were hitherto not exposed to. However, the contrary opinion is that they have been living in perfect harmony with nature and hence it would be best to maintain the status quo.

News Item Compiled by Manasa B. H.

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