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Nicobar project violates tribal rights: ST panel

  • Published
    1st May, 2023
Context

The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) has now flagged alleged discrepancies with respect to the forest clearance granted for the Rs 72,000-crore Great Nicobar Island (GNI) Project

What are the issues?

  • No recognition of rights of tribals: Months after the project was granted forest clearance, implementation reports prepared by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs show that the island administration neither recognised nor granted ownership of any forest land to local tribespeople as per FRA, a requisite step under the Forest Conservation Rules, 2017 before Stage-I clearance is granted.
    • The Stage-1 clearance for the project was granted in October 2022, two years after the application was received.  

The project

  • The Rs 72,000-crore project titled ‘Holistic Development of Great Nicobar Island at Andaman and Nicobar Islands’ is being implemented by the 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.

Claims made by the government

  • The government has said that the project intends to use about 7.114 sq. km of tribal reserve forest land, where the Shompen, a Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG), and the Nicobarese reside. 
  • It insisted that locals will not be displaced by the project.
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