Great Nicobar Plan

News: Recently, the Environment Appraisal Committee which flagged concerns over the project has now ‘recommended’ it ‘for grant of terms of reference’ for Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) studies. In August, 2020 the Prime Minister had declared that the Andaman and Nicobar Islands will be developed as a “maritime and startup hub”.

About the Great Nicobar plan

  • The Environment Appraisal Committee (EAC) – Infrastructure I of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has fla gged serious concerns about NITI Aayog’s ambitious project for Great Nicobar Island. The EAC was responding to ‘pre-feasibility’ report, ‘Holistic Development of Great Nicobar Island at Andaman and Nicobar Islands’.
  • The report is prepared for the NITI Aayog by the Gurugram-based consulting agency. The proposal includes an international container transshipment terminal, a greenfield international airport, a power plant and a township complex spread over 166 sq. km. and is estimated to cost ₹75,000 crore.
  • The committee has, however, removed the first hurdle faced by the project.
  • It has recommended it “for grant of terms of reference (TOR)” for Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) studies, which in the first instance will include baseline studies over three months.

Recommendations of the committee:

  • There is a need for an independent assessment of terrestrial and marine biodiversity, a study on the impact of dredging, reclamation and port operations, including oil spills.
  • The need for studies of alternative sites for the port with a focus on environmental and ecological impact, especially on turtles, analysis of risk-handling capabilities.
  • A seismic and tsunami hazard map, a disaster management plan, details of labour, labour camps and their requirements, an assessment of the cumulative impact, and a hydro-geological study to assess impact on round and surface water regimes.