The Centre has
cleared the decks for the controversial Rs.75,000 crore project to construct a
greenfield international port, an international container transhipment
terminal, a township and power plants across 16,610 hectares of pristine
forests in a Great Nicobar island.
ministry’s Expert Appraisal Committee on Infrastructure projects approved the
project on the island that is home to the indigenous Shompen tribe, besides
rare flora and
It will also involve felling
of over 8.5 lakh trees, loss of 12-20 hectares of mangrove cover, claiming 298
hectares of sea bed and considerable coral translocation.
The Great Nicobar
Island was declared as a biosphere reserve in January 1989 by the Centre and
included in the Unesco man and biosphere programme in May 2013. It is
considered a global biodiversity hotspot, which explains the strong opposition
to the project from several quarters.
EAC has mandated
specific ‘conservation and management plans’ and high funding for the endemic
species, mangroves and corals and other fauna, besides several other caveats,
minutes of the meeting show.
EAC said three independent committees will be
set up: one to oversee pollution related matters, another on biodiversity and
the third to oversee welfare and issues related to Shompen and Nicobarese