Monday, September 26, 2011

ANI Still Not Familiar in New Delhi: LG


ANI Still Not Familiar in New Delhi: LG

By Zubair Ahmed

Andaman and Nicobar Islands still does not ring bell in New Delhi. The Islands is still confused with Lakshadweep and Delhiwallas are unfamiliar with the Islands, candidly admitted Lieutenant Governor, Bhopinder Singh, inaugurating the two-day UGC sponsored seminar on Strategic Importance, Political Autonomy and Sustainable Development of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, organized by the Department of Political Science, JNRM. Benchmarking the Islands with other Island nations and archipelagos, he said that despite various constraints and challenges, Andaman and Nicobar Islands is much resourceful than other similar places.

Despite limited availability of revenue land, he said that developmental activities in different sectors are taking place, which will bring prosperity and generate employment opportunities. He said that a roadmap for development needs to be prepared with meticulous planning and time-bound implementation to achieve the aspirations of the Islanders.
Commenting on the recent Chinese adventurism, he said that our country even though does not harbor aggressive designs against others, with the Islands playing a major role, India can become a major global player. He also stressed that economic development and defence preparedness has to go hand in hand.
For sustainable development of the Islands, he said that the while formulating policies, the Administration will keep in view the aspirations of local people, environmental protection and rights of the indigenous tribes. He also said that a study is going on how to merge the indigenous tribes with the mainstream like the Nicobaris. He also stressed upon developing an effective communication system with mainland and within the Islands.
The Island needs to be made self dependent by formulating short term and long term vision. Although the Islands are totally dependent on Central Government for all its needs, he said that sectors like tourism, fisheries, Small Scale Industries, Information Technology, construction of major infrastructure like Sea Ports, Air Ports etc. if exploited to their fullest potential would not only generate revenue for the Islands but also create employment opportunities.
On political autonomy and the idea of statehood for the Islands he said that the Islands presently have elected representative, tribal council as well as Panchayati Raj Institutions. He also said that various factors such as the total population including tribals and other factors like security and economic sustainability would be taken into consideration by the Government before a decision is taken for the creation of a State Assembly.
Shakti Sinha, Chief Secretary in his keynote address said that although the Islands are located strategically, developmental activities are negatively affected due to its location. He also said that agriculture and manufacturing industries cannot be the mainstay of the Island economy; we need to think out of the box. He emphatically said that nature and people are the two tremendous resource bases of the Islands.
Delving deeply about Administration's various projects he said that Coconut Mission in Car Nicobar has been a grand success and it commands high value in international market due to its organic quality. On fisheries, he said that coastal fisheries in the Islands are still under developed and if Tuna Mission and deep sea fishing takes off, it would be a quantum leap creating economic prosperity and employment opportunities for local people. He said that forestry operations have been affected due to the Supreme Court order.
On the employment scenario, he said that the Island needs skilled manpower and the Skill Development Mission(SDM) has been implemented and about 2000 plus people are employed every year. He further added that with the laying of submarine optic cable, connectivity will improve and sectors such as IT, IT enabled services (ITES), E-governance, Health and Education will get a major boost.
The development of the Trans-shipment Port at Campbell Bay, will cater to both eastern parts of the India and littoral countries like Bangladesh, Thailand, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.
Shakti Sinha said that there are 69 panchayats and about Rs 105 crores has been given as Grant-in-Aid last year with each Panchayat getting more than a crore rupees, which nowhere in India, any panchayat gets. On political autonomy he said that it has to be looked in a larger perspective. He also admitted that in Delhi, nobody understands the Islands. However, there is no dearth of funds as Centre is an open cheque for ANI.
Dr. R. N. Rath, HOD, Political Science in his brief address said that this is the first National Conference by UGC on such relevant issues pertaining to the security, progress and development of the Islands being organized in JNRM. He also said that the seminar will deliberate on developmental aspect, ecological balance and political autonomy of the Islands. He said that there is a genuine demand for a legislative assembly, but taking the quantum of economical sustainability, it should be given enough thought before reaching a conclusion.
The two-day seminar was co-sponsored by NABARD, NATMO and NYK.
Earlier, the Principal, JNRM, Dr. Iqbal Ahmad welcomed the gathering, while the inaugural function concluded with the vote of thanks proposed by Dr. S.K. Biswas, Organising Secretary.

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