NITI Aayog’s tourism project will be tremendously destructive to Great Nicobar, says Pankaj Sekhsaria in new book

Updated - June 27, 2024 06:52 am IST

Published - June 27, 2024 12:05 am IST - New Delhi

Pankah Sekhsaria with his new book, The Great Nicobar Betrayal, published by Frontline.

Pankah Sekhsaria with his new book, The Great Nicobar Betrayal, published by Frontline. | Photo Credit: MURALI KUMAR K

Speaking about his new book The Great Nicobar Betrayal, published by Frontline, Pankaj Sekhsaria on Wednesday said that NITI Aayog’s soon-to-be-launched tourism and real estate project is a “tremendously destructive” threat to the Great Nicobar island’s ecology and indigenous population.

“The present government has gone to great lengths to denotify certain stretches of the island previously marked as protected areas for leatherback turtles in order to enable to transfer of land for commercial purposes,” said Mr. Sekhsaria, who has spent close to two decades studying the contemporary issues in the Andaman and Nicobar islands. He was speaking at the book launch in Delhi while in conversation with chief guest Amita Bavaskar, a sociologist and professor of anthropology at Ashoka University.

Ms. Baviskar added that the rich ecology of the island will experience “one of the worst kinds of colonisation” purely for an accumulation of profit by political parties and corporates.

“Since economic liberalisation, all political parties have endorsed a model of development that equates the grandness of a project with development and the betterment of the native population. However, all these projects have turned out to be destructive,” she said.

Mr. Sekhsaria said the book contains chapters by various journalists on the possibility of wide-ranging ecological damage, the consequences of large-scale construction on an island that falls in a zone of seismic activity, and the impact of a population boom in a previously sparsely-populated area. Urging readers to buy the the book, he added that the contribution of every reader is crucial in stopping the NITI Aayog project in the island.

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