From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Not much
Mains level : Paper 3- EAC allows Great Nicobar plan to advance
About the Great Nicobar plan
- The Environment Appraisal Committee (EAC) – Infrastructure I of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has flagged serious concerns about NITI Aayog’s ambitious project for Great Nicobar Island.
- The EAC was responding to ‘pre-feasibility’ report, ‘Holistic Development of Great Nicobar Island at Andaman and Nicobar Islands’.
- The report is prepared for the NITI Aayog by the Gurugram-based consulting agency.
- The proposal includes an international container transshipment terminal, a greenfield international airport, a power plant and a township complex spread over 166 sq. km. and is estimated to cost ₹75,000 crore.
- The committee has, however, removed the first hurdle faced by the project.
- It has recommended it “for grant of terms of reference (TOR)” for Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) studies, which in the first instance will include baseline studies over three months.
What the EAC said
- The committee noted that the site selection for the port had been done mainly on technical and financial criteria, ignoring the environmental aspects.
- It has now asked for an independent study/ evaluation for the suitability of the proposed port site with specific focus on Leatherback Turtle, Nicobar Magapode and Dugong.
- It highlighted the need for an independent assessment of terrestrial and marine biodiversity, a study on the impact of dredging, reclamation and port operations, including oil spills.
- It has also highlighted the need for studies of alternative sites for the port with a focus on environmental and ecological impact, analysis of risk-handling capabilities, a seismic and tsunami hazard map, a disaster management plan, an assessment of the cumulative impact, and a hydro-geological study to assess impact on round and surface water regimes.
- The committee has also asked for details of the corporate environment policy of the implementing agency — whether the company has an environment policy, a prescribed standard operating procedure to deal with environmental and forest violations, and a compliance management system.