NEW DELHI: The Congress has demanded an immediate suspension of all clearances and conduct of a thorough impartial review of the Centre’s proposed Rs 72,000 crore “mega infra project” in Great Nicobar Islands, which the party claims, threatens to be “a grave threat” to island’s tribal communities and natural ecosystem.
Congress general secretary in-charge of communications, Jairam Ramesh in a statement said that the project, initiated in March 2021 at the instance of the NITI Aayog, shows “numerous red flags”.
Ramesh asserts that in view of “numerous violations of due process, legal and constitutional provisions protecting tribal communities, and the project’s disproportionate ecological and human cost, the Indian National Congress demands an immediate suspension of all clearances and conduct of a thorough impartial review of the proposed project, including by the Parliamentary committees concerned.”
“The ministry of environment, forests and climate change has given ‘in principle’ clearance for diverting 13,075 hectares of forest land. This area is about 15% of the island’s land mass and constitutes one of the country’s largest forest diversions in a nationally and globally unique rainforest ecosystem,” Ramesh highlights in his statement.
He pointed out that compensatory afforestation for the loss of this unique rainforest ecosystem has been planned in the state of Haryana, thousands of kilometres away and in a vastly different ecological zone
Ramesh stated that the coastline where the port and the project is proposed to come up is an earthquake prone zone “Locating such a massive project here puts investment, infrastructure, people, and the ecology in harm’s way,” Ramesh asserted.
He further claims that the project poses a “direct threat to the wellbeing and survival of the Shompen, an indigenous community classified as a Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG). Ramesh alleged that the “project violates the letter and spirit of the Forest Rights Act (2006), which holds the Shompen as the sole legally empowered authority to protect, preserve, regulate and manage the tribal reserve.”

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