Andman and Nicobar Islands are all set for massive makeover; the central government has decided to improve the infrastructure and connectivity to promote tourism. The developmental projects in the pipeline are aimed at augmenting the physical infrastructure in terms of road, air and sea connectivity, improving electricity generation, mobile and internet connectivity as well as economic development.

Therefore, the key areas identified for holistic development of Andaman and Nicobar Islands include Infrastructure, Tourism, Green Energy and Skill Development. Five islands – Avis, Long, Little Andaman, Smith and Ross – have already been identified for the development and another 12 islands will be added to the list later. Here’s the low-down on the makeover:

Air connectivity 

With the civil works completed at Diglipur Airport on the northern tip of Andamans, air operations by Andaman Airways are set to commence from June, 2019. Port Blair has been declared as an authorised immigration check post for entry and exit from India with valid travel documents for all classes of passengers.

Seaplane operations

Bidding has been opened for seaplane operations at four locations in Andamans – Swaraj Dweep, Shaheed Dweep, Hut Bay and Long Island – under the UDAAN Regional Connectivity Scheme of the Ministry of Civil Aviation.

Road connectivity

The lifeline of the Andamans – the Andaman Trunk Road is all set to receive an upgrade following the grant of Coastal Regulation Zone clearance in December 2018 for the Middle Strait Bridge. ‘In principle’ approval has also been obtained for Chatham-Bambooflat bridge in Port Blair, in fulfilment of a long standing demand of the island residents.

Tourism promotion

Four tourism based projects have been developed as ready to launch projects under the Public Private Partnership model. Also paving the way for “Ease of Tourism”, 30 islands have been exempted from the Restricted Area Permit regime. Requirement of mandatory registration of foreigners arriving in the island within 24 hours of their entry has also been done away with.

Green Energy

As the islands are environmentally very sensitive, maximum use of Renewable Energy has been given a high priority. Two solar energy plants with a total capacity of 45 MW [20 MW by Neyveli Lignite Corporation and 25 MW by National Thermal Power Corporation] are under implementation. UT Administration has signed a Power Purchase Agreement with the NTPC for a 50 MW LNG-based power plant.

Telecommunications

Work has commenced for the laying of a submarine Optical Fibre Cable between Chennai and Port Blair and eight other islands. The project is likely to be completed by June 2020, after which unlimited bandwidth shall be available in Andaman and Nicobar Islands.