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NITI Aayog’s project in Great Nicobar UPSC NOTE

 Why has the Congress party called for an ‘immediate suspension’?

  • On June 17, the Congress party demanded an “immediate suspension” of all clearances granted to NITI Aayog’s mega project on Great Nicobar island in the light of “violations of due process, legal and constitutional provisions protecting tribal communities, and the project’s disproportionate ecological and human cost.” 

  • The party also demanded a “thorough impartial review of the proposed project, including by the parliamentary committees concerned.” 

  • Other political parties have also raised concerns about the project. 

Ecological and social concerns

  • The project requires the diversion of about 130 sq km of forest land and the felling of around 10 lakh trees

  • In January, 2021 the Indian government denotified two wildlife sanctuaries — the Galathea Bay wildlife sanctuary and the Megapode wildlife sanctuary — to make way for the project. 

  • In the same month, the government released a ‘National Marine Turtle Action Plan’ that lists Galathea Bay as a marine turtle habitat in India.

  • The transshipment terminal is expected to be developed at Galathea Bay, one of the world’s largest nesting sites for the giant leatherback turtle

  • Both this species and the Nicobar megapode are listed in Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection Act), 1972 — the highest level of protection for wild animals under Indian law (numerous species, especially endemic ones, are likely yet to be documented in Great Nicobar given the limited number of surveys conducted so far). 

  • Some of the land classified as “uninhabited” in NITI Aayog’s plan is also part of the Great Nicobarese’s ancestral land

  • Since their post-tsunami resettlement, they have repeatedly sought to return to these lands — only to be met with administrative apathy. 

  • Today, the mega project also stands in the way of their demands to return.

  • As for the Shompen (Indigenous people of the interior of Great Nicobar Island) one of the biggest threats is disease. 

  • Since the Shompen have had little contact with the outside world, they haven’t yet developed immunity to infectious diseases that affect India’s general population

  • Some Shompen settlements also overlap with the areas the NITI Aayog has proposed to be used for the transshipment terminal

Why is there a threat of frequent earthquakes?

  • The Andaman and Nicobar archipelago is located in the “ring of fire”: a seismically active region that experiences several earthquakes throughout the year. 

  • According to some estimates, the region has experienced close to 500 quakes of varying magnitude in the last decade

  • The area is in category V: the geographical zone with the most seismic hazard.

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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: NITI Aayog’s project in Great Nicobar UPSC NOTE
NITI Aayog’s project in Great Nicobar UPSC NOTE
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