Updated May 1st, 2024 at 20:28 IST

With Great Nicobar Island Project, Modi Govt Eyes to Push A&NI as Economic Hub | Here’s is How

PM Modi-led govt is working on highly anticipated, the ‘Great Nicobar Island (GNI)’ project, aimed at making the Andaman and Nicobar Islands as ‘economic hub’.

Reported by: Abhishek Tiwari
Andaman and Nicobar Islands | Image:PTI/ Representational
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New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre has fast paced the work on its highly anticipated, the ‘Great Nicobar Island (GNI)’ project, which is aimed at making the Andaman and Nicobar (A&NI) Islands as the ‘economic hub’ in the Bay of Bengal. The Rs 75,000 crore project by the central government, which is already under progress at the island, is also being considered as the government’s master plan on the country’s defence turf. Encompassing the establishment of an international container transshipment terminal, an airport, a power plant, and a green-field township at Campbell Bay, situated at the southern end of the Andaman and Nicobar group of Islands in the country’s southeastern part.

The project, which saw the dawn of the day in 2021, is in the spotlight again, ahead of the scheduled inspection by Prime Minister's principal secretary, Pramod Kumar Mishra, along with Union home secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla, joint secretary (Union Territory Division) Ashutosh Agnihotri, and several other key officials on Thursday. The key central government’s officials will review the initial master plan draft for the Great Nicobar Island Township project piloted by the NITI Aayog.

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A statement has been issued by the Lt Governor’s Office on the scheduled inspection, saying, "Holistic development of various visionary mega projects with investments of over Rs 75,000 crore under Maritime India Vision 2030 including international container transhipment terminal (ICTT), green field airport, power plant nearing finalisation of preparatory phase and will prove to be a force multiplier aimed in developing A&NI Islands as an economic hub."

The governor is likely to meet the MHA officials on May 3 for an interactive session on the project, officials added.

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Earlier, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had issued a stay on the project and created a committee to review the environmental clearance granted by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

About the Great Nicobar Island Project?

The Great Nicobar Island project is a mega project being implemented at the southern end of the Andaman and Nicobar islands, which comprises of an international container transshipment terminal, a greenfield international airport, township development, and a 450 MVA gas and solar based power plant over an extent of 16,610 hectares in the island.

How Will Project Boost the Economy?

In its report, the NITI Aayog had stated that the proposed port will allow Great Nicobar to participate in the regional and global maritime economy by becoming a major player in cargo transshipment. At an equidistant from Colombo in Sri Lanka to the southwest and Port Klang in Malaysia and Singapore to the southeast, the GNI will be positioned close to the East-West international shipping corridor, through which a very large part of the world’s shipping trade passes.

Strategically Important for National Security

The GNI project, which was first floated in the 1970s, was also underlined for its importance in context with national security and for the consolidation of the Indian Ocean Region. The increasing Chinese assertion in the Indian Ocean has added crucial requirements to this imperative in recent years. However, the project has also faced criticism citing concerns regarding its adverse impact on the rich biodiversity of the area and damage to the habitats of endangered species.

Notably, the area is part of Coastal Regulation Zones, and the Galathea bay, nests birds, turtles, dolphins and other species. Beaches on either side of the Galathea River are the most important nesting sites in the northern Indian Ocean for the Leatherback turtle, the world’s largest marine turtle.

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Geographical state of the Union Territory

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands is a union territory of India. It consists of 836 islands grouped into two island groups, of which only 31 are inhabited. The northern Andaman Islands and the southern Nicobar Islands are separated by a 150 km wide channel. The Islands are located between the Bay of Bengal to the west and the Andaman Sea to the east, while the capital city Port Blair is located about 1,190 km from Chennai. 
 

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Published May 1st, 2024 at 20:28 IST