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19th June 2024 (10 Topics)

Great Nicobar Project

Context

The Indian government has proposed a significant infrastructure upgrade on Great Nicobar Island, encompassing an International Container Transshipment Terminal (ICTT), a greenfield international airport, a township, and a power plant. This initiative is part of a broader plan for the holistic development of the island, aimed at leveraging its strategic location in the Bay of Bengal.

About the project

  • Project title: ‘Holistic Development of Great Nicobar Island at Andaman and Nicobar Islands’
  • Cost: Rs 72,000 crore
  • Implemented by: Andaman and Nicobar Islands Integrated Development Corporation (ANIIDCO).
  • The project has four components – 
    • an International Transhipment Port (ITP)
    • Greenfield International Airport
    • a power plant
    • a new township that could constitute a Special Economic Zone
  • These four interlinked projects form the core of the new city and the holistic master plan.

Significance of the project:

  • Great Nicobar Island holds strategic significance due to its proximity to major international maritime routes, including the Malacca Strait.
  • The ICTT is expected to enhance India's participation in the global maritime economy and bolster regional connectivity.
  • Additionally, the region's military upgrade aims to strengthen India's defense posture in response to geopolitical developments, particularly concerning Chinese naval activities in the Indo-Pacific.

Environmental Concerns and Opposition

  • The proposed project has faced opposition from conservationists, wildlife experts, and local tribal councils, citing concerns over its environmental impact.
  • Critics argue that the development could lead to deforestation, threaten marine ecosystems, and endanger vulnerable species like the Nicobar Megapode and leatherback turtles.
  • There are also apprehensions about the potential disruption to the indigenous Shompen tribe's habitat and traditional way of life.
Steps were taken to mitigate the Losses:
  • Building Coral population: Proposed mitigation measures to compensate for these damages include coral translocation and reef restoration in Galathea Bay.
  • Compensatory Afforestation: Authorities plan to balance the loss of 12-20 hectares of mangroves here by ‘re-densifying’ existing mangrove patches and planting mangroves in non-forest areas.
  • Declaring Protected areas: Mitigation measures also include intent to declare new protected areas, as well as the drawing up of monitoring and action plans to study threatened wildlife.

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