Development concerns – Nicobar project must be reconsidered

Source: The post is based on an article “Development concerns – Nicobar project must be reconsidered” published in Business Standard on 3rd March 2023.

Syllabus: GS 3 – Infrastructure

Relevance: Concerns associated with developmental project on the Great Nicobar Island.

News: The government has recently given the clearance for the development of a project on the Great Nicobar Island. The project is to be implemented in three phases over the next 30 years.

About the Project

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What are the concerns with the project?

The Great Nicobar Island is known for its rainforest ecosystems, having unique coral reefs and rare species of turtles and other fauna and flora.

Further, the protection of leatherback sea turtles, the flagship turtle species of this island, is part of the country’s National Marine Turtle Action Plan. The Galathea Bay is among the important marine turtle habitats of India.

Great Nicobar Island also lies in the seismically active zone and is prone to maritime hazards like tsunamis.

Nearly 850 square kilometres of the island’s area is notified as tribal reserve under the Andaman and Nicobar Protection of Aboriginal Tribes Regulations, 1956.

The area was also designated as a biosphere reserve in 1989, and made part of Unesco’s “Man and Biosphere Programme” in 2013.

Further, the Shompen and Nicobarese tribes reside in the dense tropical rainforests of the Great Nicobar. They are among the world’s least studied and most vulnerable tribal groups that still relies on hunting and food gathering.

Hence, environmentalists are worried about the deleterious impact of this project on ecology, disaster vulnerability, local communities’ rights, and various other fields.

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What can be the way ahead?

One of the reasons to develop the project is national security because there has been an increase in the presence of Chinese ships in the region of Bay of Bengal and in the Indo-Pacific.

Therefore, looking at national security as well as other concerns, the project can be modified to minimise damage to the natural ecosystem of Great Nicobar.

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