The Great Nicobar Island Project: Ecological Ignorance or Economic Opportunity?

Concerns have been raised about the 70,000 crore Holistic Development of Great Nicobar Island project’s ecological effect and the Union government’s hasty clearances, while its viability and sustainability remain in doubt.

What exactly is the Holistic Development of Great Nicobar Island project?

  • The Holistic Development of Great Nicobar Island project was started by the Indian government in 2020 as a major infrastructure development effort.
  • The Union Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has approved the “Holistic Development of Great Nicobar Island” initiative.
  • The project’s goal is to turn Great Nicobar Island, the biggest of the Nicobar group of islands in the Bay of Bengal, into a modern, sustainable, and self-sufficient territory.
  • An international transhipment port, an international airport, a gas and solar-powered power plant, and an ecotourism and residential township are all part of the proposal.

Concerns about the environment and ecology

  • Quick Approvals, Clearances, Exemptions, and De-Notifications: The project’s quick approvals, clearances, exemptions, and de-notifications demonstrate the Union government’s eagerness to execute it.
  • Urbanization and Biodiversity: The project is anticipated to attract a population equivalent to that of the entire island chain, potentially threatening the region’s marine and terrestrial biodiversity.
  • The island was designated a biosphere reserve in 1989, and it is home to vulnerable tribal groups such as the Nicobarese and Shompen.

Issues of Feasibility and Sustainability

  • Hinterland Economic Activities: A effective transhipment hub necessitates viable hinterland economic activities, which in Great Nicobar may be wishful thinking.
  • Afforestation and Coral Reef Translocation: The suggestion for far-field afforestation and coral reef translocation are both questionable compensation methods.
  • Tectonic Instability: The proximity of Great Nicobar Island to the Ring of Fire, as well as its history of earthquakes, raises worries about the feasibility of building an urban port city.

@the end

The ecological and environmental costs of the Great Nicobar Island project, as well as its questionable feasibility and sustainability, raise concerns about India’s dedication to conservation, sustainability, and green development models. The green development model must become the guiding concept for future economic activities, guaranteeing that growth does not result in irreversible loss of natural capital.

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