In what will help with the movement of supplies and people, Andaman and Nicobar (A&N) islands have received a 150-tonne cargo vessel named Sindhu from the Cochin Shipyard Ltd; it can also carry 500 passengers.
The addition is part of the government’s plans to add new ships to the transportation fleet for improving the connectivity between the mainland and the islands. This comes against the backdrop of India augmenting infrastructure and connectivity with the Indian archipelago, to implement its plans to secure the strategic advantage the islands provide in the Indian Ocean.
“The ship would ply mainly between the groups of islands but also can call the Mainland as necessary,” Cochin Shipyard Ltd said in a statement to the BSE on Saturday.
The plan is part of a larger strategy to develop infrastructure in Andaman and Nicobar Islands with state-run National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corp. Ltd (NHIDCL) been tasked with building bridges and roads at an investment of around Rs3,000 crore.
“This project is a part of a series of four passenger vessels comprising of 2 nos 500 Pax and 2 nos 1,200 pax at a total order value of approx: Rs1,400 crore under the “Make in India” initiative of the government. The second 500 pax sister vessel is currently under advanced stage of construction is also expected to join the fleet in the current year,” the statement added.
Better connectivity and infrastructure will help India secure its territory and protect its trade routes even as China aims to expand its naval reach. India’s only tri-service command is established in A&N at the entrance to the Malacca Strait, the world’s busiest shipping route.
As part of the infrastructure creation exercise in A&N islands, state-run NTPC Ltd also plans to set up a floating micro-liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal to power the islands, thereby helping reduce the carbon footprint by ending the practice of diesel-based power generation as reported by Mint earlier.
The clean fuel sourced through the Floating Storage Regasification Unit (FSRU) will help generate 50 megawatt (MW) of electricity at Hope Town, South Andaman, enough to power the islands and replace the current diesel fuelled costly power generation.
A concerted strategy has been adopted for the islands to project India’s presence in the region and beyond with strategic projects such as expansion of naval air stations and building a railway line from the capital of Port Blair to Diglipur on North Island.