Great Nicobar Island development Project - GPSgyan

Over the past couple of years, there has been approval for a significant project valued at ₹72,000 crores aimed at enhancing the Great Nicobar Island


the Andaman Nicobar Island
a view of the Andaman Nicobar Island

In February 2021, a conservation plan focused on sea turtles identified Galathea Bay on the southeastern coast of the island as a crucial habitat. The beaches on both sides of the Galathea River serve as vital nesting sites for the Leatherback turtle, which is the largest marine turtle in the world. The plan emphasized that developmental activities like constructing ports, jetties, resorts, and industries along the coast pose significant threats to turtle populations. Ironically, these are the exact kinds of developments outlined in the ₹72,000-crore project designed to comprehensively develop Galathea Bay and the Great Nicobar Island. The plan is being led by an organisation known as NITI Aayog.


The Great Nicobar Project:

Context: 

The government's big project, called the Great Nicobar Project, wants to improve things on the Great Nicobar Island. They want to build useful things like a port, airport, town, and power plant there. But some people are worried that doing this might harm the island's beautiful forests and all the different plants and animals that live there.


Ambitious Project with Tree Felling:

  • The government is working on a big project on Great Nicobar Island that costs ₹72,000 crores. They want to create a place where ships can exchange goods, a big airport, a town, and a power plant that uses gas and sunlight.
  • A government official said that they might need to cut down about 9.64 lakh trees for the project, which is more than the 8.5 lakh trees they thought before.

Environmental Clearance and Challenge:

  • The Great Nicobar Project got permission from a group of experts to use a big area of untouched forest, which is about 130 square kilometers. But some people disagreed with this decision and brought it to a place called the National Green Tribunal (NGT). This Tribunal then made another group of experts in April 2023 to look into whether the permission was a good idea or not.

Project’s Strategic Importance and Lack of Public Information:

Usually, information about projects getting permission for their environmental impact is put on a website by the Environment Ministry where anyone can see it.


But, surprisingly, information about the Great Nicobar Project hasn't been shared. This is because the Union Home Ministry says the project is very important for strategic reasons.


Great Nicobar Island map
a detailed map of the great Nicobar ISLAND

Ecological Impact:

  • The Great Nicobar Island is famous for its lush, green forests that have lots of different kinds of plants and animals. On the island, there are around 650 different types of plants and 330 different types of animals. But if they cut down trees for a project, it could hurt this special environment.

Tree Felling Plan and Compensatory Afforestation:

  • The Minister explained that around 964,000 trees might need to be cut down in a specific forest area. About 15% of the planned development area will be saved as parks and open spaces, which could mean fewer trees being cut. The tree cutting will happen in stages. To make up for the lost trees, they'll plant new trees in Haryana since there are limits to planting in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Conclusion:

Nut Graf (nutshell paragraph): The Minister in charge of the Environment said that the Great Nicobar Project might have to cut down 964,000 trees, which is more than the earlier expected 850,000 trees. They are doing this for development reasons. They haven't shared a lot of information with the public because they think it's strategically important, even though they got permission to do it from an environmental point of view. The place where this is happening has many different kinds of plants and animals, and they're planning to plant new trees in Haryana to make up for the ones they're cutting down.


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