The Holistic Development of the Great Nicobar Island Project is being criticised for its adverse impact on the island’s ecology and indigenous tribes. This 166.10 sq. km project involves the construction of an airport, a township, a container transhipment terminal, and a power plant. The project requires the diversion of 130 sq km of forest land and the logging of 8.5 lakh trees.
Why is Great Nicobar Island Project in news?
Recently, the Home Ministry asked that an 8.45 sq. km. airport component is kept confidential, citing strategic imperatives. The Environment Ministry has withheld all discussions on forest clearance for the entire project recommended by the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC). The FAC authorizes the diversion of forest land for projects, and there is no information on when it cleared the proposal for this project.
What is Great Nicobar Island Project?
The project is to be implemented in the Great Nicobar Island at a cost of Rs 75,000 crores, that is, 9.4 billion USD. It was prepared by NITI Aayog and to be implemented by ANIIDC (Andaman and Nicobar Islands Integrated Development Corporation). It mainly aims on developing coastal tourism, logistics, defence, coastal regulation zone, and commerce and industries. There are four main components in the plan. They are Galathea Bay International Container Transhipment Terminal, Great Nicobar International Airport, Great Nicobar Gas and Solar Power Plant, and the two coastal cities.
What are the mitigation measures?
The island will lose 12 to 20 hectares of mangrove cover. This is to be compensated in the Aravallis in Haryana. The corals are to be translocated to the regions around the island. Galathea Bay has ecologically sensitive zones that are home to rare fauna such as the Nicobar macaque, saltwater crocodile, sea turtle, etc. For this, three conservation sites have been proposed by the Appraisal Committee of MoEFCC. They are Little Nicobar, Meroe island, and Menchal island.