Government Think Tank, NITI Aayog is proposing to construct a mega financial-tourist complex on the Little Andaman Island. The plan is to turn the island into a free trade zone that could compete with Singapore and Hong Kong.
Environmentalists raise concerns that the plan threatens an already-fragile ecosystem and will lead to habitat loss for the vulnerable Onge tribe and rare wildlife.
The Action Plan
The document presented by NITI Aayog entails a plan to build a greenfield coastal city and free trade zones in the Little Andaman area.
The document also entails plans to harness scuba diving spots, develop ‘world-class’ infrastructure including hotels and resorts along with identifying spaces for ‘focused development’.
A plan to develop the transportation sector through an airport, the expansion of the island’s jetty, and a 100km greenfield ring highway have also been made.
The island has been divided into three specific zones:
102 sq km of the east coast of Little Andaman.
It is to be developed into a financial district, tourism, and a hospital district.
85 sq km along with the forest covers of Little Andaman.
It is to be developed into the leisure zone, also serving as a tourist hub. This zone will have a film city and residential complexes.
Another 52 sq km along with the forest covers on the western coast of Little Andaman.
This is to be a nature zone, and it is further categorically planned to be developed into a forest resort, nature healing district, and a nature retreat.
While NITI Aayog’s document lists out an expansive developmental project, it fails to explain the necessary steps that are required to achieve it. The development plans also stand a chance of going against a few Supreme Court notifications.
As per the document, the government proposes de-reserving 32% of the forest cover reducing the share reserved for the tribal population to 31%. However, out of 95 percent of the forest cover on the island, about 450 sq km is protected under the Onge Tribal Conserve and 640 sq km is reserved under the Indian Forest Act 1927.
The document does not address the presence of indigenous tribes or their relocation should the project start. In terms of relocation strategies or protection schemes, the document simply states out that sufficient steps will be taken. However, no details have been disclosed.
The lack of information available in terms of the finance and budget allotted for the project along with the lack of data on any forest or ecological wealth inventory of the island or the performance of any impact assessment draws widespread criticism.
In the proposal, the geographical vulnerability of the area has not been taken into consideration. The choice of images and mention of national parks that are not a part of Little Andaman has also been criticized.
Do you think development at the stake of disturbing the ecological balance is worth it? What are your views about the redevelopment of Little Andaman? Let us know in the comment section!
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This post is tagged under: Government, Think Tank, Niti Aayog, Little Andaman Island, Environmentalists, Onge tribe, habitat loss, rare wildlife, Supreme Court, Singapore, Hong Kong, Urbanisation, Redevelopment, Government, Think Tank, Niti Aayog, Little Andaman Island, Environmentalists, Onge tribe, Habitat Loss, Rare Wildlife, Supreme Court, Free Trade Zone , Singapore, Hong Kong, Urbanisation, Redevelopment, Compete With Singapore And Hong Kong, Greenfield Coastal City, Specific Zones, Against Supreme Court Notifications, Onge Tribal Conserve, Geographical Vulnerability, Indian Forest Act 1927