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The Centre has identified 16 islands in Andaman and Nicobar Islands and 10 in Lakshadweep for holistic development by promoting tourism and offering facilities for export of seafood and coconut-based products. This was disclosed at the sixth meeting of the Island Development Agency (IDA), chaired by Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Monday, a home ministry statement said.
The Island Development Agency reviewed the progress made towards the programme "holistic development of islands and for the first time in the country, under the guidance of IDA, an initiative of sustainable development in the identified Islands within scientifically-assessed carrying capacity has been taken-up. Development plans with focus on creation of jobs for the islanders through tourism promotion as well as export of seafood and coconut-based products made in the islands have been prepared and are being implemented in four islands of Andaman and Nicobar Islands and five islands of Lakshadweep.
In the second phase, suitable sites in 12 more islands of Andamans and five islands in Lakshadweep have been covered, the statement said. Model tourism projects both, land-based and water villas, were planned and bids have been invited for private sector participation.
As a unique initiative, to spur investment, it was decided to obtain clearances for implementation of the planned projects up-front. All necessary clearances would be in place before bids finalisation. Environment and Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) clearances have already been obtained for four exemplary tourism projects of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. For strengthening infrastructure support, projects for improving air, sea and digital connectivity are also being implemented.
Port Blair and another seven islands in Andaman would get digitally connected through submarine optical fibre cable by June, 2020. Better communication services would facilitate setting up of information technology based and other micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the islands with incentives through Lakshadweep and Andaman and Niocobar Islands Industrial Development Scheme (LANIDS), 2018 notified on January 1, 2019, the statement said. The proposed airports in Great Nicobar island of Andaman and Minicoy island of Lakshadweep would catalyse the development process in the region. In the meeting, a detailed presentation was made by CEO, NITI Aayog highlighting current status of the planned projects being implemented for islanders' benefits. The status of implementation of decisions taken in the last meeting was also highlighted in the presentation.
The home minister has expressed satisfaction at the progress made and called upon all concerned to expedite implementation of the on-going projects for islanders' benefits, the statement said. Shah also advised to formulate separate policyfor maintaining a clean, green and healthy environment in the islands.
In addition, he advised to implement suitable strategies for sustainable utilisation of fisheries resources available in Exclusive Economic Zone around the islands. Adequate technology-based facilities need to be provided to enhance fish collection, storage, processing and export of value-added products which would provide more jobs and generate additional income for the islands, he said.