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Current Affairs 2023
The Ministry of Tribal Affairs has clarified that the proposed Great Nicobar project will not displace any of the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG) living in the area. There will be strict implementation of the Protection of Aborigine Tribe (PAT) Regulation to protect the interests of the Shompen tribe.
Mar 29, 2023
4 min read
The Government of India has clarified that the proposed ₹72,000 crore Great Nicobar Island project will not displace any of the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG) living in the area. The Ministry of Tribal Affairs has stated that the 7.114 sq. km. of tribal reserve area proposed to be utilised for the project will be subject to the protection of interests of local tribespeople.
The project, being implemented by the Andaman and Nicobar Islands Integrated Development Corporation (ANIIDCO), includes a transshipment port, an airport, a power plant, and a greenfield township. The Ministry of Tribal Affairs clarified that strict implementation of the Protection of Aborigine Tribe (PAT) Regulation will be in place to protect the interests of the Shompen tribe. The displacement of tribals will not be allowed and eco-tourism will be regulated in an effective manner.
The Lieutenant Governor of Andaman and Nicobar Islands has constituted an Empowered Committee to obtain views and consultations on the impact of the project. The committee consists of concerned government departments, anthropologists and experts. The Expert Appraisal Committee of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has also decided that the project activities shall not disturb Shompen tribe and their habitation.
The government has taken steps to ensure that the Great Nicobar project does not adversely affect the PVTG living in the area. The project is expected to bring economic and social benefits to the region, while also providing employment opportunities for the local tribespeople. The government has also taken steps to ensure that the environment is not adversely impacted by the project. It is hoped that the project will be implemented in a manner that is beneficial to the local tribespeople and the environment.
About the Great Nicobar Development Plan
The Great Nicobar Development Plan is a mega infrastructure project for the southern tip of Great Nicobar Island in the Andaman Sea of India. It is spread over 166 sqkm of the 910 sqkm island and has four components - Galathea Bay International Container Transhipment Terminal, Great Nicobar International Airport, Great Nicobar Gas and Solar Power Plant, and two new greenfield coastal cities. The total project cost is Rs. ₹75,000 crore (US$9.4 b in 2022), and it has geostrategic importance for defense, logistics, commerce and industries, eco-tourism, coastal tourism, Coastal Regulation Zone, etc. The project has been conceived by NITI Aayog and is being developed by Andaman and Nicobar Islands Integrated Development Corporation (ANIIDC).
The Indian Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change’s Expert Appraisal Committee granted the environmental clearance in 2022 after considering the environmental risks and mitigation strategies. However, concerns have been raised about the project's impact on the environment and indigenous communities. The island will lose 12 to 20 hectares of mangrove cover due to the project, which will be compensated by afforestation in Haryana’s Aravallis. To mitigate the risk of loss of corals, the corals will be translocated in the reefs around the island. The project area is within 10 km radius of Galthea Bay, which is an ecologically sensitive zone and home to rare fauna such as Leatherback Sea Turtle, saltwater crocodile, and Nicobar macaque. The Indian MoEFCC’s Expert Appraisal Committee has proposed three conservation sites for fauna - Little Nicobar, Menchal Island, and Meroe Island. The project will increase the population to over 3.5 lakh (350,000), which may cause a threat to the indigenous communities.
Currently, the bids for the Galathea Bay International Container Transhipment Terminal have been opened, and phase-1 with 4 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) will be completed by 2028, and capacity will eventually be increased to 16 TEU. Ten companies, including Adani Ports & SEZ, Container Corporation of India, Essar Ports, JSW Infrastructure, and Royal Boskalis Westminster N.V., have filled the Expression of Interest.
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