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From Mainland to Islands: Development Reaching Everywhere

India Islands Development

The current government has made islands an integral part of its development outreach. Up till now, the islands were neglected from the mainstream discourse by attaching a low priority to them. However, prioritising the development of islands, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given a push to a plan through institutionalizing it and establishing Islands Development Agency (IDA).

IDA was set up in 2017 to work towards the vision of transforming the islands. Island Development Agency under the Union Home Minister and NITI Aayog had shortlisted 26 islands for various development projects in Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshadweep. Several projects are on the verge of a launch in 2019. This is important since the development of Islands was first discussed in the year 1999. However, it is only under the current government, proper groundwork has been done and the projects are finally being implemented.

The islands of India can be broadly categorised under three groups. Let us take a look at the development measures in each of them.

  1. Andaman and Nicobar Islands Group
  2. Lakshadweep Islands Group
  3. Mainland Islands – Islands located within the mainland India
1. Andaman and Nicobar Islands
  • Digital India is now reaching the remotest parts of the country. The under-sea optical fibre is being laid between Chennai and Andaman and its 6 main islands. This project is in its advanced stage. It will enhance the bandwidth and bring the islands closer to India digitally.
  • Piped water connections have been provided to 2,038 households in Andaman & Nicobar Islands under the AMRUT scheme.
  • According to a report by The Indian Express, projects worth Rs 650 crores of private investments for the development of 26 islands are under negotiation. IDA is leading these negotiations.
  • India’s only tri-service command at Andaman & Nicobar islands is being further strengthened highlighting its importance as India’s unsinkable aircraft carrier. For the first time since World War II, India has stationed its fighter aircraft at Andaman & Nicobar Islands. This has increased India’s position as a regional security provider and gives it an edge near Malacca Strait choke point.
  • As per a report published in The Hindu, Diglipur airport (in the Andamans) is expected to be made operational for civilian aircraft by December 2018, thereby enhancing the physical connectivity to Andamans.
  • To give more attention, the government has included 5 more tribes of Andaman and Nicobar in the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs). They are the most vulnerable among tribals. The Scheme for development of PVTGs was revised. Thus, along with Vanabandhu Kalyan Yojana, it depicts high importance accorded to the development of tribals by the government.

Various measures by the government have led to a rapid increase in the numbers of tourists visiting the islands, as shown in the below graph.

Source:- India Tourism Statistics 2017, 2014

2. Lakshadweep Islands
  • World’s first self-powered desalination plant is being set up at Kavaratti island. It uses ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) technology for generating power. It will also enable the availability of potable water and also help in overcoming recurring drinking water crisis.
  • Lagoon Villas are being planned by Niti Ayog to give a boost to tourism in Lakshadweep islands group.
  • On the recommendation of the T Haque committee for holistic development of Lakshadweep, work has begun on Minicoy airport. It will aid in increasing the tourism inflow as well as exports.
  • Lakshadweep coconuts are the highest oil content nuts in the world. The government has promoted its cultivation by hand-holding and also by providing it an organic certification. These are some of the region-specific measures initiated by the government.
  • Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) have been installed to boost the fish-catch on the island. It aids in sustaining the livelihoods of the local people. The government has taken measures to encourage Tuna Fishing and promote ‘Lakshadweep Tuna’ as a brand.

Various measures by the government have led to a rapid increase in the numbers of tourists visiting the islands, as shown in the below graph.

Source: India Tourism Statistics 2017,2014

3. Mainland Islands
  • Government’s efforts to save the world’s largest inhabited river island, Majuli in Assam, has shown a great progress. The government along with the Bramhaputra board (body for the Majuli Island conservation) has managed to increase the area of land mass considerably. The government, thus, has revived the fate of this unique island.
  • As part of Sagarmala, Sagar Island in West Bengal will soon have a major port. It is a planned step to reduce the turn-around time and address trans-shipment. Thus, the government will be able to save resources and boost logistics in this way.
  • India’s first floating laboratory was launched for patrolling Loktak lake and its floating Keibul Lamjao islands. The laboratory will patrol its water and will analyse the pollution load in the lake, thus, conserving the lake’s biome.
  • Diu has become India’s first solar-powered island. Government begun efforts in the year 2016 and today Diu does not require import of electricity. It shows the foresightedness of the government. It has set an example for the whole country to emulate.
Other Achievements

The focus on building critical infrastructure in islands region will have a positive domino effect as infrastructure and connectivity strengthens further. The Modi Government is developing these islands as tourist hotspots, thereby spurring economic activity and lifting many people out of poverty. The government has also improved communication and access to islands, which will further enhance trade and tourism across the islands. This has also led to rising of the indigenous Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in islands. Thus, the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has pushed for the development of these hitherto isolated regions of the country.