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Rs.10k-cr plan to make Andaman & Nicobar first maritime hub

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In an effort to make Andaman and Nicobar Islands country’s first maritime hub, the Centre has chalked out an ambitious plan of Rs 10,000 crore to establish the base for infrastructure that will include an expanded dry dock and ship repair industry in Port Blair.

The Centre’s plan reportedly aims at protecting the original Jarawa inhabitants while boosting the tourism potential of locations such as limestone caves and mud volcanoes.

Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari told media persons that project’s plans that are to be undertaken over the next two years have already been formulated and action is being initiated. Projects that entail an investment of Rs 2,000 crore have been sanctioned and work on the rest of the programme will start soon.

A 15-year perspective plan for the development of shipping and port infrastructure on the islands, prepared by the Shipping Ministry, is already in place. The islands are home to India’s eastern and southern tips, putting them within close distance of an international shipping route.

According to the plan, port infrastructure would be developed, vessels to run mainland-island services would be acquired, tugs for safe berthing to be procured and docking capacity has been planned to be spruced up.

However the Central Government departments would have to assess the impact on environment before materialising the project as Andaman is a very sensitive zone. A senior official said that tribal and tourists areas have to be bifurcated in order to ensure there is no disturbance to the inhabitants.

Notably, campaigners have demanded that the Government shut the trunk road and that there should be no forcible attempts to ‘mainstream’ them. The pristine waters make Andaman and Nicobar islands an ideal destination for diving.

That apart, the Centre has sanctioned a Rs 50 crore-project on the development of a sea route from Port Blair to Baratang, one of the islands and home to the mud volcanoes. The Andaman Lakshadweep Harbour Works is implementing the project which is slated to be completed by October 2017. To augment the dry docking capacity in Port Blair, the existing facility will be expanded with an investment of about Rs 120 crore.

To promote the area as a destination, the government has sanctioned a Rs 50 crore project on the development of a sea route from Port Blair to Baratang, one of the islands and home to the mud volcanoes. The project is being implemented by Andaman Lakshadweep Harbour Works and will be completed by October 2017. To augment the dry docking capacity in Port Blair, the existing facility will be expanded with an investment of about Rs 120 crore.

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