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NITI Aayog’s Proposal for Little Andaman

  • 01 Feb 2021
  • 7 min read

Why in News

Recently, a plan named the Sustainable Development of Little Andaman Island Vision Document by NITI Aayog for the sustainable and holistic development of the 680 sq km, fragile Little Andaman Island in the Andaman and Nicobar island group has raised alarm among conservationists.

Key Points

  • Purpose:
    • To leverage the strategic location and natural features of the island.
      • The islands are critical for India's security because of their strategic location in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
      • Better infrastructure and connectivity will help India enhance its military and naval strength in the islands.
  • Plan:
    • Building a new greenfield coastal city, that will be developed as a free trade zone and will compete with Singapore and Hong Kong.
  • Three Zones: It has divided the development in three zones:
    • Zone 1 :
      • Spread over 102 sq km alongside the east coast of Little Andaman.
      • It would be the monetary district and medi metropolis and can embody an aerocity, and a tourism and hospital district.
    • Zone 2:
      • Spread over 85 sq km of pristine forest.
      • It is the leisure zone, can have a movie metropolis, a residential district and a tourism Special Economic Zone (SEZ).
    • Zone 3 :
      • Spread over 52 sq km of pristine forest.
      • It shall be a nature zone, additional categorized into three districts: an unique forest resort, a nature therapeutic district and a nature retreat, all on the western coast.
  • Transport Development:
    • A worldwide airport able to deal with all varieties of plane is central to the plan as a global airport is vital for growth.
    • The solely jetty on the island might be expanded and a marina might be developed subsequent to the tourist entertainment district.
    • A 100 km greenfield ring highway might be constructed parallel to the shoreline from east to west and might be supplemented with a mass fast transit community with stations at common intervals.
  • Bottlenecks:
    • Lack of fine connectivity with Indian mainland and world cities.
    • Fragile biodiversity and natural ecosystems and certain Supreme Court notifications that pose an obstacle to development.
    • Another key issue is the presence of indigenous tribes and concerns for their welfare.
    • 95% of Little Andaman is covered in forest, a big part of it the pristine evergreen sort. Some 640 sq km of the island is Reserve Forest under the Indian Forest Act 1927, and almost 450 sq km is protected because of the Onge Tribal Reserve, creating a singular and uncommon socio-ecological-historical complex of high importance.
  • Solution Proposed in the Plan:
    • The proposal wants 240 sq km (35%) of this land and the options are:
      • De-reserve 32% of the reserved forest and de-notify 138 sq km or 31% of the tribal reserve.
      • If the tribals develop into an obstacle, the proposal says that they can be relocated to other parts of the island.
  • Flaws in the Proposal:
    • It talks of conservation of nationwide park/wildlife sanctuary on Little Andaman when none exist right here and it has no mention of the geological vulnerability of the place, which was amongst the worst-affected within the earthquake-tsunami combination in 2004.
      • The waves hit Little Andaman so hard that the breakwater there was not just breached, it was physically displaced and it’s orientation changed. Ships couldn’t berth for weeks thereafter.
    • The plan has no financial details, no budgeting, or inventorisation of forests and ecological wealth and no particulars of any impact assessment.
    • The nature resort proposed at West Bay on the western coast is to have theme resorts, floating/underwater resorts, seaside inns, and high-end residential villas.
  • Forest Department’s Concern:
    • In a note, Divisional Forest Officer, Little Andaman, raised severe considerations about this proposal on grounds of ecological fragility, indigenous rights and vulnerability to earthquakes and tsunamis.
    • It mentioned that such a large diversion of forest land would cause environmental loss leading to irreversible damage.
    • Habitats of various wild animals will be affected.
    • The proposal couldn’t even be assessed as a result of there being no environment impact assessment report and neither had there been any detailed site layout plans for the proposed diversion.

Little Andaman Island

  • About:
    • This island is part of the Little Andaman Group (Little Andaman is the counterpart of Great Andamans). This island is the fourth largest island in Andamans.
    • It is famous by the name of its main village and the largest settlement –Hut Bay (rarely known by its other name Kwate-tu-kwage).
  • Tribes:
    • At a distance of about 120 Kilometers by sea from the capital town of Port Blair, this island has become a tribal reserve from sometime near to 1957.
    • This is considered home to the Onge Tribes, even though there are multilingual settlers of Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, and Ranchi communities.
  • Location and Transport:
    • Lying at the southern end of the archipelago, Hut Bay Jetty is the only harbor for ships or boats coming into this island from the capital town –Port Blair.
    • Little Andamans is less explored due to the limited mode of connection with the capital town of Port Blair.

Source:TH

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