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  • 29 November, 2022

  • 6 Min Read

Development of Great Nicobar

Development of Great Nicobar

  • The Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change recently approved an ambitious Rs 72,000 crore development project on the strategically important Great Nicobar Island.
  • Over the next 30 years, the project will be implemented in three phases.

About the proposal

  • A greenfield city with an International Container Trans-shipment Terminal (ICTT), a greenfield international airport, and a power plant has been proposed.
  • The Indian Navy will control the port, while the airport will serve dual military-civilian purposes as well as tourism.
  • A total of 166.1 sq km along the island's southeastern and southern coasts have been identified for project along a coastal strip with widths ranging from 2 km to 4 km.
  • Some 130 square kilometres of forest have been designated for diversion, and 9.64 lakh trees are expected to be felled.

What is the Goal of Development on this Island?

  • Great Nicobar is located equidistant from Colombo to the southwest and Port Klang and Singapore to the southeast, and is close to the East-West international shipping corridor, which transports a significant portion of the world's shipping trade.
  • The proposed ICTT could serve as a hub for cargo ships travelling along this route.
  • The proposed port, according to the NITI Aayog report, will enable Great Nicobar to participate in the regional and global maritime economies by becoming a major player in cargo transshipment.

Strategic Motives:

  • The idea of developing Great Nicobar was first proposed in the 1970s, and its significance for national security and the consolidation of the Indian Ocean Region has been emphasised time and again.
  • In recent years, increasing Chinese assertiveness in the Bay of Bengal and the Indo-Pacific has added urgency to this imperative.

What are the Concurrent Concerns?

  • Many environmentalists are concerned about the proposed massive infrastructure development in an ecologically important and fragile region.
  • The loss of tree cover will have an impact on the island's flora and fauna as well as increased runoff and sediment deposits in the ocean, affecting the coral reefs in the area.
  • Environmentalists have also raised concerns about the island's loss of mangroves as a result of the development project.

What steps is the government taking to address the concerns?

  • The Zoological Survey of India is currently determining how much of the reef must be relocated for the project.
  • India has successfully translocated a coral reef from the Gulf of Mannar to the Gulf of Kutch earlier.
  • A conservation plan for the leatherback turtle is also being put in place.
  • The project site, according to the government, is outside the eco-sensitive zones of Campbell Bay and Galathea National Park.

What are the main attractions of the Great Nicobar Islands?

  • Great Nicobar, the southernmost of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, has an area of 910 sq km.
  • The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are a cluster of about 836 islands in the eastern Bay of Bengal, the two groups of which are separated by the 150-km wide Ten Degree Channel.
  • The Andaman Islands lie to the north of the channel, and the Nicobar Islands to the south.
  • Indira Point on the southern tip of Great Nicobar Island is India’s southernmost point, less than 150 km from the northernmost island of the Indonesian archipelago.
  • It covers 1,03,870 hectares of unique and threatened tropical evergreen forest ecosystems.
  • It is home to a very rich ecosystem, including 650 species of angiosperms, ferns, gymnosperms, and bryophytes, among others.
  • In terms of fauna, there are over 1800 species, some of which are endemic to this area.
  • The Great Nicobar Biosphere Reserve is home to a diverse range of ecosystems, including tropical wet evergreen forests, mountain ranges reaching a height of 642 metres (Mt. Thullier) above sea level, and coastal plains.
  • Two national parks and a biosphere reserve are located on Great Nicobar. National Parks: Campbell Bay National Park and Galathea National Park Biosphere Reserve: Great Nicobar Biosphere Reserve
  • The Mongoloid Shompen Tribe, which numbers around 200 people, lives in the biosphere reserve's forests, particularly along rivers and streams.
  • Another Mongoloid tribe, the Nicobarese, numbered around 300 people and lived in settlements along the west coast.

Source: The Indian Express

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