The Environment Appraisal Committee (EAC) – Infrastructure I of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has recommended NITI Aayog’s project ‘Great Nicobar Plan’ for “for grant of Terms Of Reference (TOR)” for Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) studies.
- The grant is one of the first steps in the environmental clearance process.
- It assesses the environmental impact of a project based on scope and details of the project submitted by the applicant.
- Earlier, EAC had flagged concerns about the ‘Great Nicobar Plan’.
Great Nicobar Plan
- Proposed by NITI Aayog, it aims to promote holistic development of Greater Nicobar.
- It is estimated to cost ~ INR 75, 000 Crores, the proposal includes International container transshipment terminal (at Galathea Bay), a greenfield international airport, a power plant and a township complex spread over 166 Square Kms.
- Andaman and Nicobar Islands Integrated Development Corporation (ANIIDCO) is the nodal agency for implementation of the plan.
EAC had highlighted several missing information in the township proposal.
i.Seismic and tsunami hazards, freshwater requirement details are missing.
- 5 lakh people are envisaged to finally inhabit the island under the plan, whereas the present population is only 8,500. The population of the entire island chain is less than 4.5 lakh.
ii.Details of impact on the Nesting site of Giant Leatherback turtle are missing.
- Galathea Bay is the site of the proposed port and it is also the centrepiece of the NITI Aayog proposal.
- It is an iconic nesting site in India of the Giant Leatherback, the world’s largest marine turtle.
- The proposed site will also affect other species like Nicobar Megapode & Dugong.
iii.Absence of details on the number of trees to be felled for the proposed plan. Estimates have projected that it could run into millions since 130 Sq km of the project area is situated in fine tropical forests.
- Call for independent assessment of terrestrial and marine biodiversity.
- It highlights the need for studies of alternative sites for the port.
- Study on impact of dredging, reclamation and port operations, including oil spills.
- The EAC has asked for details of the corporate environment policy of the implementing agency.
Recent Related News:
i.On 4th February 2021, the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) gave approval for the Lakhwar Electricity Project at a cost of Rs 5747.17 crore on the Yamuna river at Dehradun district, Uttarakhand.
About Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC)
Union Minister – Prakash Javadekar (Rajya Sabha – Maharashtra)
Minister of State (MoS)– Babul Supriyo (Lok Sabha– Asansol, West Bengal)