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Little Andaman development plan, India

A proposed megadevelopment along the coastline of Little Andaman Island entails denotification of forest and Tribal Reserve long inhabited by Onge people. An Aerocity housing an international airport would be ‘the catalyst for development' of the 1st Zone


The ‘Vision Document’. In January 2021 news of plans for a tourism oriented mega development project on Little Andaman Island triggered alarm amongst conservationists. The island, at the southern end of the Andaman archipelago, is home to the Onge tribe and fragile, unique ecosystems with many rare wildlife species. The total project area is nearly 240 sq km, 35% of the island. Implementation would require de-notification of 32% of the Reserve Forest (a large part of this consisting of pristine, evergreen forest) and 138 sq km, 31%, of the land protected as Onge Tribal Reserve, an area described by Pankaj Sekhsaria, a leading expert on the environment, development and indigenous communities in the Andaman and Nicobar islands, as ‘a unique and rare socio-ecological-historical complex of high importance’. The plans are outlined in the ‘Sustainable Development of Little Andaman - Vision Document’, which Sekhsaria criticises as ‘Sloppy and inappropriate’ containing ‘no financial details, no budgeting, or inventorisation of forests and ecological wealth and no details of any impact assessment’. There was no environmental impact assessment or detailed site layout plans. He also criticises the document for including maps without legends and photographs plagiarised from the internet. The document, thought to have been finalised a few months previously, was not in the public domain [1].

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Little Andaman development plan, India
State or province:Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Location of conflict:Little Andaman Island
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Tourism Recreation
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Urban development conflicts
Tourism facilities (ski resorts, hotels, marinas)
Ports and airport projects
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific commodities:Land
Tourism services
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Proposals for development of Little Andaman have been discussed in recent years and a series of de-notifications and amendments to rules has removed protections and prepared the island for megaprojects. NITI Aayog has been planning development of the Andaman and Nicobar islands since publication of a 2016 paper titled ‘An Approach Paper on Prospects of Island Development – Options for India’. This placed Little Andaman at the centre, proposing an international tourism complex, international airport and a new harbour at Dugong creek. In June 2017 the government formed an Island Development Agency to oversee progress. In 2018 NITI Aayog prepared a preliminary report on ‘holistic development’ of the islands for potential investors stating that clearances, including environmental and coastal protections, would be obtained before bidding [5]. NITI Aayog made a detailed presentation of plans for ‘eco-tourism resorts’, island villas and infrastructure such as jetties, marinas, regional airports, heliports and sea-plane facilities to potential corporate investors [6]. In March 2019 new Island Coastal Zone Regulation Notification paved the way for allowing tourism development closer to the sea and land reclamation for ports, harbours and jetties was also permitted. In May 2019 NITI Aayog published a report ‘Transforming the Islands Through Creativity & Innovation’ mentioning Little Andaman and Great Nicobar for their size and strategic location and commissioning studies on land use, land reclamation and use of water resources in the two islands [5].

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Project area:23,940
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:26/09/2020
Company names or state enterprises:Andaman and Nicobar Islands Integrated Development Corporation Limited ( ANIIDCO) from India
Relevant government actors:NITI Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India)
Administration of South Andaman
Andaman and Nicobar Administration
Government of India
Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC)
Ministry of Tribal Affairs
Island Development Agency (IDA)
National Board for Wildlife (NBWL)
Anthropological Survey of India
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Kalpavriksh Environmental Action Group -
Andaman Nicobar Environment Team -
Dakshin Foundation -
Survival International -
Students’ Sea Turtle Conservation Network (SSTCN) -
Rushikulya Sea Turtles Protection Committee -
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Landless peasants
Social movements
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
Onge Indigenous Peoples
Forms of mobilization:Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Objections to the EIA
Public campaigns
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Food insecurity (crop damage), Noise pollution, Soil erosion, Oil spills, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Other Environmental impacts
Other Environmental impactsLoss of Great Leatherback Turtle nesting sites
Health ImpactsPotential: Malnutrition, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Other Health impacts
Other Health impactsIllnesses caused by pollutants emitted by aircraft
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts
Other socio-economic impactsDenotification of part of Tribal Reserve would impact on Onge indigenous people
Project StatusProposed (exploration phase)
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The development process lacks transparency as the ‘Sustainable Development of Little Andaman - Vision Document’ was not made public and lacked an environmental impact assessment. A series of de-notifications and amendments to rules removed protections and prepared Little Andaman island for megaprojects. For example, new coastal zone regulation enabled development closer to the coastline. Implementation of the proposals would entail denotification of large areas of Forest Reserve and Onge Tribal Reserve. Felling more than 2 million trees to make way for the various components of the three zones would result in carbon emissions, along with secondary impacts of soil erosion and reduced rainfall on cultivated land. A vulnerable population of approximately 125 Onge indigenous people could face displacement, loss of access to livelihoods and socio-cultural shock. No details of how they would be relocated have been provided. Marginalized indigenous people living precarious lives would be disadvantaged by tourism projects - such as luxury resorts, beach hotels and a private airstrip - benefitting wealthy visitors.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Andaman and Nicobar Administration, Andaman and Nicobar Islands (Protection of Aboriginal Tribes Regulation), 1956 and Rules framed thereunder, National Informatics Centre, Andaman State Unit
[click to view]

Indian Forest Act, 1927
[click to view]

Executive Summary - Preparation of Island Coastal Regulation Zone (ICRZ) Plan, As per ICRZ Notification 2019 - Little Andaman Island, Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Island, National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management (NCSCM)
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[2] Pankaj Sekhsaria, A MONUMENTAL FOLLY: NITI Aayog’s Development Plans for Great Nicobar Island (An evolving archive of reports, information and documents), Kalvpavriksh Environmental Action Group, 12/2021
[click to view]

[10] Sujit Raha, Avijit Chakraborty, Purbita Chatterjee, Tanmoy Chakraborty, Sayan Mondal, Carbon loss estimation: a case study of Little Andaman development plan, International Journal of Advanced Research in Computer and Communication Engineering (IJARCCE), Vol.11, Issue 3, March 2022
[click to view]

[1] NITI Aayog's megacity plan for Little Andaman alarms conservationists, The Hindu, 31/01/2021
[click to view]

[3] NITI Aayog’s Development Plan for Little Andaman generates concern, THE LEAFLET, 06/02/2021
[click to view]

[4] NITI Ayog’s Proposed ‘Sustainable Development of Little Andaman Island’: How ‘Sustainable’ can be this ‘Development’, Andaman Chronicle, 08/03/2021
[click to view]

[5] Indian government wants to strip even the Andaman Islands of their environmental protection, Meenakshi Kapoor,, 09/04/2021
[click to view]

[6] Why Govt’s Plan to ‘Develop’ Andaman Island is Shocking, News Click, 11/03/2021
[click to view]

[7] New Mega-City Could Be a Death Blow for India’s Ancient Tribes, The Diplomat, 18/03/2021
[click to view]

[8] UN body asks India to respond on concerns around mega projects in the Andamans, The Hindu, 22/07/2022
[click to view]

[9] Leatherback turtles under threat as government considers ‘development’ in Little Andaman, Mongabay, 12/04/2021
[click to view]

[11] Leatherback nesting sites could be overrun by Andamans project, The Hindu, 15/02/2021
[click to view]

[12] India’s turtle researchers oppose development plans for Little Andaman, Great Nicobar islands, DownToEarth, 10/06/2021
[click to view]

[13] TRACKING LEATHERBACK TURTLES FROM LITTLE ANDAMAN ISLAND, Adhith Swaminathan, Naveen Namboothri and Kartik Shanker, Indian Ocean Turtle Newsletter, Issue 29, 04/2019
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Rose Bridger, Stay Grounded mapping, email: [email protected]
Last update22/08/2022
Conflict ID:6091
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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