Nicobar project gets assent for diversion of 130 sq km of forest

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Source: The post is based on the article “Nicobar project gets assent for diversion of 130 sq km of forest” published in The Hindu on 9th November 2022. 

What is the News?

The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change(MoEFCC) has granted an in-principle clearance for the diversion of 130 sq km of forest in Great Nicobar Island for the mega project.

What is the mega project being planned at Great Nicobar?

The Mega Project in Great Nicobar Island includes a transhipment port, an airport, a power plant and a greenfield township. 

The project is being implemented by Andaman and Nicobar Islands Integrated Development Corporation under a vision plan conceived by the NITI Aayog. 

A key condition for the clearance of the project is the submission of a detailed scheme for compensatory afforestation which is to be done on “non-notified forest land” in Haryana. 

What is the ecological impact of this project?

Firstly, the area of the project is nearly 15% of the thickly forested Great Nicobar Island which is spread over 900 sq km. This is one of the largest single such forest diversions in recent times.

– It is nearly a quarter of all the forest land being diverted in the past three years across the country and 65% of the 203 sq km of forest land diverted in the three-year period 2015-18.

Secondly, the ministry’s own estimates suggest that 8.5 lakh trees will have to be cut in Great Nicobar for this project. This is doubly significant because these are primary evergreen tropical forests with high biological diversity and also high endemism.

Thirdly, the project area is home to rare flora and fauna. These include the leatherback sea turtles, Nicobar megapode (a flightless bird endemic to the Nicobar islands), Nicobar Macaque and saltwater crocodiles.

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