The Environment Ministry has approved an exemption to the laws governing the regulation of coastal zones and has paved the way for gas-powered plants to be set up at Andaman and Nicobar islands.
The Island Coastal Zone Regulation (ICRZ), 2019, limits infrastructure development on vulnerable coastal stretches.
In the aftermath of a proposal from the Andaman and Nicobar Coastal Zone Management Authority (ANCZMA), an expert body of the Ministry, called the National Coastal Zone Management Authority (NCZMA), recommended in August, 2021 that it was necessary to provide an “enabling provision in the ICRZ notification” to meet the energy requirement of the islanders while reducing the dependency on highly polluting sources such as conventional Diesel Generator (DG) sets.
The NCZMA has recommended that gas-based power plants be permitted within the Island Coastal Regulation Zone area only in islands with geographical areas greater than 100 sq. km.
Comments from public
The Centre, following this, invited comments from the public on modifications to to the ICZR, and on May 5, issued a notification accepting the NCZMA recommendation.
The Andamans administration is expected to commission a 50 MW Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)-based power project at Hope Town, Port Blair, to be developed by the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC).
Following visits by NTPC personnel, a dual-fuel power plant—that runs on both diesel and LNG—is expected to be commissioned. Diesel power was necessary, Andaman administration authorities argued, as back-up fuel when the region faced inclement weather.
There has been an increased interest in the development of the Andaman region following a policy push by the NITI Ayog. A proposed project tis to develop the Greater Andaman region or the southernmost stretch of islands. Proposals include a 22 sq. km. airport complex, a trans-shipment port (TSP) at South Bay at an estimated cost of ₹12,000 crore, a parallel-to-the-coast mass rapid transport system and a free trade zone and warehousing complex on the southwestern coast.