Proposals for tourism and port development in the Andaman and Nicobar (A&N) Islands have conservationists worried over the fate of some of the most important nesting populations of the Giant Leatherback turtle in this part of the Indian Ocean.
The grant is one of the first steps in the environmental clearance process. It involves assessing the environmental impact of a project based on the scope and details disclosed by the applicant.A proposed township and area development project proposal on the Great Nicobar Island is likely to impact turtle and megapode nesting sites and affect coral reefs, according to the project documents , even as the Union environment ministry’s Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) has recommended it for grant of terms of reference (TOR).
The EAC has also raised concerns about the project, according to the minutes of the panel’s meeting on April 5 and 6 uploaded on the Parivesh website late last month. The Committee notes that the site selection for the port component has been done keeping primarily the technical and financial viability in place. The environmental aspects were not given much weightage while selecting the site.
The proposed township is expected to cover an area spread over 149.60 square km of which 28.27 square km is revenue land, 8.37 square km is deemed forest and 112.96 square km is forest land.The “preparation of Master plan for Holistic Development of Great Nicobar Island in Andaman & Nicobar Islands’ (prepared by Niti Aayog) is to enable the overall development of Great Nicobar Island, with a diverse and robust economy based on maritime services, tourism amongst other economic drivers.The project involves the development of an international container transhipment terminal (ICTT), greenfield international airport, township and area development and power plant.
The scale of the project and the investment proposed indicate it could signal the end of a crucial Giant Leatherback nesting site.