Excerpt from orfonline.org
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands (ANI) are in the news. With the union government proposing a slew of infrastructure projects to boost business and tourism on the islands, conservation groups are on the warpath. Environmentalists contend that construction activity on ecologically sensitive islands could lead to a large-scale loss of biodiversity, which could hurt local communities and the islands’ indigenous people.
The ecological perspective stands in opposition to the mainstream view, which emphasises the development of the islands. The ANI is an oceanic outpost for continental India. With a critical vantage location overlooking the ten-degree and six-degree channels (through which a vast majority of cargo and container traffic in the eastern Indian Ocean transits), the islands give India a unique surveillance and maritime interdiction capability. The ANI is a vital ‘staging post’ for maritime operations, and a hub for logistics, providing operational turnaround for Indian warships and aircraft deployed in the Andaman Sea.