The Island Development Agency (IDA) decided today to develop an airport at Minicoy Island to boost tourism and promote tuna fishing industry for improving livelihoods in Lakshadweep. The IDA was set up on June 1 this year, following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s review meeting for the holistic development of islands. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh chaired the second meeting of the IDA here today. It was noted that site development potential reports have clearly mapped and delineated environmentally-sensitive zones in the project islands, and considering the unique maritime and territorial bio-diversity of the islands, enhanced connectivity has been recommended as one of the key priorities, according to a press release issued by the home ministry. Accordingly, it was decided that the Naval Air Station at Shibpur near Diglipur in northern Andaman and Nicobar Islands would be co-used as joint user airport, it said. “During the meeting, it was also decided to develop a public-private partnership (PPP) package including a airport (joint user airport) at Minicoy Island, to unlock the tourism potential,” the release said. It was agreed to promote tuna fishing industry for improving livelihoods in Lakshadweep, it said.
The home minister directed all concerned to expedite implementation of ongoing key infrastructure projects in the islands and develop community-based tourism in consultation with local stakeholders, the release said. The government think tank NITI Aayog was also asked to drive the formulation of PPP projects and proposed detailed guidelines to boost private sector participation. Singh expressed satisfaction at the progress made since the IDA’s last meeting held on July 24, when directions were given to identify and execute infrastructure and connectivity projects together with provisioning of water and electricity.
In today’s meeting, the Island Development Agency reviewed the concept development plans and detailed master plans for holistic development of nine islands — four in Andaman and Nicobar Islands (i.e. Smith, Ross, Long, Avis) and five in Lakshadweep (i.e. Minicoy, Bangaram, Thinnakara, Cheriyam, Suheli). The meeting was attended by Lt Governor of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Admiral D K Joshi, former Navy Chief (Vice Chairman of IDA); Cabinet Secretary P K Sinha; CEO of NITI Aayog Amitabh Kant; Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba, Secretary, Environment, Forest and Climate Change, C K Mishra; and representatives of ministries of tourism, power, defence, health, telecommunications and civil aviation.