Havelock: Forsaken Paradise | So Close, Yet So Far!
So Close, Yet So Far!
By Zubair Ahmed
Havelock has over the years emerged as the tourism capital of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. It has the most beautiful beach in
Radhanagar rated very highly by international agencies and a tourist’s
itinerary is incomplete without visiting Havelock.
Everyday about 6-8 boats including two catamarans ferry
approximately 1500 tourists to the Island.
With around 1000 beds, tourism industry is booming with local population also
benefiting from the industry. Out of 45-odd resorts, 15 resorts belong to the
local people, who overlooked the lure of the real estate sharks and explored
the emerging tourism industry. Resorts and lodges have proliferated all over
the place. Ancillary services like water adventure sports, launderette,
ayurvedic massage parlours, eating joints have also started to emerge.
Till last year, the Island, touted to be the visage of the Islands bore a very forlorn look with narrow roads
without footpath and piling garbage everywhere right from the Jetty. The
initiative of the new Administrator Lt Gen A K Singh has started showing
results. The roads have been widened with footpaths and a cycling track added.
A small but significant step! Radhanagar beach too got a facelift, albeit for
the President’s visit.
Despite all the focus and attention, Havelock, which is hardly 60 kms from the
capital, has a list of sordid tales to narrate with infrastructural neglect
written all over the place.
What the Island today craves is
basic infrastructure for the industry to thrive. Once it’s done, the government
does not have to do much. The market forces and the inherent urge to climb up
the social ladder would ensure the rest.
Of late, disasters have been knocking on the doors with
unimaginable frequency. The recent fire incident should be an eye-opener for
the Administration. In this case, the telecom network, it seems was also one of
“Unfortunately, the emergency fire number 101 was down on that
fateful day, due to satellite link failure,” said V Raju, Chief General
The villagers as well as resort owners rues erratic land line and
prolonged non attendance of fault repair.
When asked about the erratic phone and internet services in Havelock, he said that
things are going to improve very soon. “We have already doubled the bandwidth
from 8 MBPS to 16 MBPS prior to President’s visit,” said the CGM. “There were
issues with the DG sets too, which we have all replaced,” he added. For the
President's visit, a separate optic fibre cable was laid to Dolphin Resort from
the Exchange at Havelock Jetty.
“The resort owners can also go for V-SAT connections, which can
give them excellent net connectivity,” V Raju said. It is learnt that around
six resorts use their own V-SAT Connections.
There are about 185 landline connections in Havelock. The existing exchange has issues
and needs to be upgraded, and the satellite link has its own demerits too. “The
permanent solution is undersea cable, for which it is learnt that the EFC was
held on 11 Feb 2014,” he said.
"Almost all resorts rely on online booking, but they can't
access their own websites from Havelock,
as there is no net connectivity. ”We have supplied EDC machines to all resorts,
but no transactions get completed due to poor phone connectivity," says
Suraj Kumar, Manager, SBI, Havelock.
In this age, an Island like Havelock, where on a
given time, there are more foreign tourists than any other place in Andamans,
the Island remains disconnected from the
world. "There is a satellite internet cafe, where one has to shelve Rs
300/- per hour to access internet," said Suraj Kumar.
When through social media, tourists posts their photos and
adventures online for their near and dear ones to see, Havelock remains an
exception, disconnected, so close, yet, so far!