The Andaman & Nicobar (A&N) Islands Pollution Control Committee has issued a notice for a public hearing on the Niti Aayog-backed Rs 72,000 crore Great Nicobar project, which one environmentalist has called a ‘monumental folly’ as the implementation of the project will be tremendously detrimental for the whole ecosystem of the island with a price that cannot even be grasped.
The public hearing would be held for the ‘Holistic Development of Great Nicobar Island’. The project includes the development of an international transhipment terminal, township and area development, a greenfield international airport, as well as a 450 MVA gas and solar-powered power plant.
According to a notice released on Sunday, the public hearing will take place on January 26 and the administration has invited the public to submit comments, complaints, and so on by then.
The Ministry of Environment, Forestry, and Climate Change’s Environment Appraisal Committee (EAC) Infrastructure-I advised the project for grant of terms of reference (TOR) for pioneering environmental impact assessment (EIA) studies in two meetings held in March and April earlier this year.
Pankaj Sekhsaria, Associate Professor, Centre for Technology Alternatives for Rural Areas (CTARA) & Associate Faculty, Centre for Policy Studies (CPS), IIT-Bombay, and member of the Kalpavriksh Environmental Action Group, published “A Monumental Folly: Niti Aayog’s Development Plans for Great Nicobar Islands” on Monday, detailing the demolition that the project will wreak.
The paper details the ecologically vulnerable value of the beautiful islands, as well as “how the government is hell-bent on destroying it.”
“The EAC proposal was the latest in a determined and coordinated effort to smooth down the regulatory and legal processes to enable the execution of these projects,” Sekhsaria explained.
Citing Andaman and Nicobar Island system to be situated at a delicate and sensitive junction of geological, ecological, and socio-cultural factors. Sekhsaria added that, even as it vigorously pursues an utterly fictitious goal of economic growth and development, NITI Aayog’s Great Nicobar plan is profoundly oblivious of these numerous validities.
To go on with it would be to eternalize a huge blunder at a cost that cannot even be imagined, he added in the report.