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27 March 2023: Great Nicobar

Why in news?

The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has cleared the decks for a mega project at the cost of about 70,000 crores at the southern tip of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

 About Great Nicobar

Great Nicobar is the southernmost island of the Nicobar Islands archipelago. It covers 103,870 hectares of unique and threatened tropical evergreen forest ecosystems. It is home to very rich ecosystems, including 650 species of angiosperms, ferns, gymnosperms, and bryophytes, among others. In terms of fauna, there are over 1800 species, some of which are endemic to this area.

The Great Nicobar Biosphere Reserve harbours a wide spectrum of ecosystems, comprising tropical wet evergreen forests, mountain ranges reaching a height of 642 m (Mt. Thullier) above sea level, and coastal plains.

Concern:

  • The island is not very far from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, which was the epicentre of the December 2004 earthquake and tsunami that caused unprecedented death and destruction. The coastline of Great Nicobar sank nearly four meters. Yet, there was no study or risk assessment of the location of the island in a highly seismic zone prone to frequent earthquakes.