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Great Nicobar Island Project

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Bharathi Pradeep
Bharathi Pradeep
Editor at Bharathi covers topics on Competitive exams, How To guides, Current exams, Current Affairs, Study Materials, etc. Follow her on social media using the links below.

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has issued a stay on the Great Nicobar Island project worth ₹72,000 crores and created a committee to review the environmental clearance granted by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

Great Nicobar Island Project


  • The Great Nicobar Island (GNI) Project is a mega project to be implemented at the southern end of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
  • The project includes an international container transhipment terminal, a greenfield international airport, township development, and a 450 MVA gas and solar-based power plant over an extent of 16,610 hectares on the island.


1. Economic Reasons

  • As per the NITI Aayog report, the proposed port will allow Great Nicobar to participate in the regional and global maritime economy by becoming a major player in cargo transhipment.
    • It is equidistant from Colombo to the southwest and Port Klang (Malaysia) and Singapore to the southeast and positioned close to the East-West international shipping corridor, through which a very large part of the world’s shipping trade passes.

2. Strategic Reasons

  • The proposal to develop Great Nicobar was first floated in the 1970s, and its importance for national security and consolidation of the Indian Ocean Region has been repeatedly underlined.
  • Increasing Chinese assertion in the Indian Ocean has added great urgency to this imperative in recent years.
  • Criticism:
    • Impact on Biodiversity:
      • The project has faced several criticisms citing concerns regarding its adverse impact on the rich biodiversity of the area and damage to the habitats of endangered species.
        • The project area is part of Coastal Regulation Zones-IA and IB, and Galathea Bay which is a nesting ground for birds.
        • Also, turtle nesting sites, dolphins and other species will be harmed by dredging.
    • Impact on Tree Cover and Mangroves:
      • Environmentalists have also flagged the loss of tree cover and mangroves on the island as a result of the development project.
      • The loss of tree cover will not only affect the flora and fauna on the island, it will also lead to increased runoff and sediment deposits in the ocean, impacting the coral reefs in the area.
    • Lack of Adequate Assessment:
      • Critics claimed that only one season of data has been taken, as opposed to the requirement of taking data for three seasons for comprehensive impact assessment, and environmental impact assessment reports were not conducted as per Terms of Reference (ToR).
    • Encroachment in Tribal Space:
      • Critics argue that while Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) are accorded the highest level of protection by the local administration, they still face numerous challenges due to encroachment into their areas in the name of development.

Great Nicobar

  • About:
    • Great Nicobar is the southernmost island of the Nicobar Islands Archipelago.
      • It covers 1,03,870 hectares of unique and threatened tropical evergreen forest ecosystems.
    • It is home to a very rich ecosystem, including 650 species of angiosperms, ferns, gymnosperms, and bryophytes, among others.
      • In terms of fauna, there are over 1800 species, some of which are endemic to this area.
  • Ecological Characteristics:
    • The Great Nicobar Biosphere Reserve harbours a wide spectrum of ecosystems comprising tropical wet evergreen forests, mountain ranges reaching a height of 642 m (Mt. Thullier) above sea level, and coastal plains.
  • Tribe:
    • The Mongoloid Shompen Tribe, about 200 in number, live in the forests of the biosphere reserve, particularly along the rivers and streams.
      • They are hunters and food gatherers, dependent on forest and marine resources for sustenance.
    • Another Mongoloid Tribe, Nicobarese, about 300 in number, used to live in settlements along the west coast.
      • After the tsunami in 2004, which devastated their settlement on the western coast, they were relocated to Afra Bay on the North Coast and Campbell Bay.


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Bharathi Pradeep
Bharathi Pradeep
Editor at Bharathi covers topics on Competitive exams, How To guides, Current exams, Current Affairs, Study Materials, etc. Follow her on social media using the links below.

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