Indias island territories gear up for fishery, tourism

Written by ASHOK B SHARMA | New Delhi, Jan 13 | Updated: Jan 14 2008, 06:25am hrs
Indias island territories namely, Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshadweep are planning development of fisheries and tourism to ensure livelihood of the people.

Tuna fish, being an important product for exports, has already engaged the attention of the island administration. Out of the estimated 148,000 tonne annual fishery potential in Andaman & Nicobar (A&N), about 64, 500 tonne are tuna fishes. Some initiatives are already underway like creation of one fishing harbour of global standard, identification of 850 hectare tsunami submerged land for shrimp culture, said A&N Lieutenant Governor, Bhopinder Singh.

Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) is preparing a project report for development of fishery infrastructure in the island territory. Plans are also afoot for creation of more fish landing centers, introduction of bigger and modern vessels and setting up of cold storage facilities in and around Port Blair for exports.

According to Lakshadweep administrator, BV Selvaraj, this group of islands located in the Arabian Sea has annual fish landing at about 11,000 tonne and there are proposals to double the catch by the end of the 11th Plan period. The island administration has taken up the ambitious projects like introduction of Mother vessel for collection from subsidiary vessels, cleaning and processing of fish in the ship. This would be the first of its kind in the country, he said.

This project is being implemented in consultation with Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute. The tuna canning factory at Minicoy is being revamped and plans are afoot to have border trade outposts at Minicoy for exports of canned tuna and cooked, smoked and sun dried tunamasmeemin packages.

While in A&N only 8% land is available for development and the rest being reserved or deemed forests, in Lakshadweep no food grain crop is cultivated. Lakshadweep has, however, launched animal husbandry projects and has anticipated achieving 100% self-sufficiency in poultry meat and eggs.

Drinking water remains a problem in both A&N and Lakshadweep. A&N administration has proposed to the Centre for raising the height of Dhanikari dam, setting up of desalination plant, transportation of water from Rutland Island by laying submarine pipelines and creation of storage facilities at various locations.

In Lakshadweep one low thermal desalination plant is successfully functioning at Kavaratti and the island administration has proposed to the Centre to replicate it for other inhabited islands. It is also studying Maldives experience of sewerage disposal for suitable adoption. Lakshadweep is fully electrified and electricity is mostly generated through costly, polluting diesel generators. The island administration is planning to set up wind farms and turbines to meet power demand.

The strategic locations of both the island territories offers scope for tourism and security imperatives. It also calls for preservation of the existing natural environment. Northern most part of A&N is only 45 km away from Coco Islands of Myanmar and Indonesia is about 150 km from the southern most part. A&N remains exposed to economic exploitation by foreign poachers of marine life and forest products, said Singh A&N is a group of 572 islands, out of which 38 are inhabited. The turquoise blue sea, talc-like beaches, richness of tropical flora and fauna and multiethnic society presents an opportunity for booming tourism industry. However, uncontrolled migration from the mainland is leading to straining of resources. As a measure to control migration identity cards have been issued to 80% of eligible population and a draft regulation on entry and residence in A&N has been sent to the Centre. The Centre has proposed to enforce the regulations after the next Census.

With a view to promote tourism, A&N administration has asked the Centre for more shipping and civil aviation links. It has also asked for modernization of dockyards, repairs of ships and vessels and setting up of modern ports at Kamorta, Katchal and Great Nicobar Islands, laying of optical fibre cable connectivity between Chennai and Singapore through Port Blair, promotion of hotels and resorts, upgradation of health infrastructure and augmentation of power supply.

Lakshadweep is better developed as compared to A&N in terms of education, public health and infrastructure. It is a group of 36 coral islands of which 11 are inhabited.

Embarkment facilities are being created at Kavaratti, Agatti, Amini and Minicoy and such facilities are prosed to be created at Kadmat, Kiltan, Chetlat and Bitra. Airstrip at Agatti is being expanded and mini airfields at Minicoy and Andrott have been proposed. Lakshadweep has attracted more than 25,000 tourists in 2006-07.