Monday, December 29, 2008

NEWS - Fourth Anniversary of Tsunami in A & N Islands


Remembering the Scars of Tsunami…

Andaman & Nicobar Islands – 26th December, 2004

Port Blair, December 26, 2008:

The Lt. Governor, Lt. Gen. (Retired) Bhopinder Singh today led the islanders in paying rich tributes to those who lost their lives in the mammoth earthquake and the catastrophic tsunami on 26th December, 2004. At a solemn function held to commemorate the Fourth Anniversary of tsunami at the Tsunami Memorial at Water Sports Complex, the Lt. Governor laid wreath at the memorial and offered floral tributes.

The devastated Aberdeen Water Sports Complex; Port Blair on 26th Dec., 2004

Others who paid floral tributes included the Member of Parliament (MP), Shri Manoranjan Bhakta, the Chief Secretary, Shri Vivek Rae, the Chairperson, Port Blair Municipal Council (PBMC), Smt. S. Selvi, State Social Welfare Board Chairperson, Smt. Shanta Laxman Singh, Councilors of PBMC, senior officers from Civil and Defence administration, senior citizens and school students.

A two minutes silence was observed and candles were lit as a mark of respect to the departed souls. An all religion prayer was also held on the occasion.

The destroyed Junglighat Jetty; Port Blair, on 26th Dec., 2004

District Control Room:

A newly constructed District Control Room (DCR) for South Andaman District has come up adjacent to the District office at Port Blair, the capital. The Control Room building was inaugurated by the Chief Secretary, Shri Vivek Rae at a simple function held in the DCR premises on 26th December, 2008. The Control Room has video conferencing facility and is connected with other such centers in the A & N Islands and the mainland India, as well. This facility enables communication with the rest of the country wherever NIC’s network facility exists.

Evacuation by Indian Navy at Hut Bay; Little Andaman

The setting up of the District Control Room is a part of the preparedness of the Administration for tackling any disaster type situation as well as in meeting any exigencies etc.

Nicobars Observe 4th Tsunami Day:

Car Nicobar: The 4th Tsunami Day was commemorated at Tsunami Memorial, Big Lapathy; Car Nicobar on 26th December, 2008. Wreaths were laid on the memorial by the Deputy Commissioner (Nicobars), Superintendent of Police (Nicobars) and the Vice Chief Captain of Tribal Council, Car Nicobar. A large number of general public and Govt. officials assembled at the memorial and paid their respects to the departed souls. Similar functions were also held at Nancowry and Campbell Bay Sub-Division.

Aerial view of tsunami-struck Malacca; Car Nicobar on 26th Dec., 2004

Campbell Bay (Great Nicobar) 2 days after tsunami - 28th Dec. 2004

Homage by ANTCC:

The Andaman & Nicobar Territorial Congress Committee (ANTCC) also organized a function on the day at Gandhi Bhavan to pay homage to the tsunami victims of 26th December, 2004 and offered Sarva Dharma Prayer for the solace of the victims’ souls. The function was organized in a bid to pay tributes to the tsunami victims and also in the memory of those killed during the terrorist attack on November 26th, 2008 in Mumbai. The function was attended by the President, ANTCC, Shri Kuldeep Rai Sharma, the MP, Shri M R Bhakta and senior leaders of the Congress Party and of frontal organizations.

All the local dailies published from Port Blair carried a host of obituary messages by the relatives & friends of the Tsunami victims of the Andaman & Nicobar Islands on the Fourth Anniversary of the unforgettable tragedy.

Friday, December 26, 2008



Hi, Friends! On 26th December 2004, precisely four years ago, one of the world’s worst-known disasters – a Tsunami set off by an underwater earthquake – hit the ‘Floating Paradise on Earth’, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The southern part of the Islands, the Nicobars, took the major brunt of the earthquake and the killer tidal waves.

Junglighat Colony, Port Blair

Gandhi Chowk, Car Nicobar.

Hut Bay, Little Andaman

Car Nicobar

Restoration work at Car Nicobar after Tsunami

In the period following the disaster, the Islands received unprecedented attention and saw an influx of ‘outsiders’: both representatives of the administration as well as development workers from Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) and elsewhere. Reconstruction and rehabilitation work started in full swing, and their results are not inconsequential. In fact, the Nicobar Islanders were one of the largest focuses of the tsunami rehabilitation efforts in Asia.

Sonia Gandhi with Tsunami victims at Car Nicobar

Four years on from the disaster, the results in some areas are reassuring. However, the pace of rehabilitation efforts seems to have slackened, according to the tribal communities, in certain areas. The Islands are located at considerable distances from each other and from Port Blair, the capital. Relief and recovery processes take long because access to the Nicobars require ‘landing permits’ or a ‘tribal area pass’. In ways more than one, the Nicobar Islands have a long way to go.

Funerals at Car Nicobar after Tsunami

Many in the administration argue that the situation is much better now than what it was on the islands before the tsunami. There are, for instance, two helicopters plying on a daily basis, covering the distance from Port Blair to the Nicobar Islands such as Car Nicobar, Campbell Bay, Kamorta, Teressa and also North Andamans. The quality and frequency of shipping services has improved, although marginally. If anything, there is greater resource allocation now and greater vigilance on the part of the community.

Murugan Temple at Malacca, Car Nicobar after Tsunami

This despondently points to the fact that it took a disaster to make the Government take note of the struggles of the people in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, especially the now-civilized tribal people of the buoyant Nicobarese community. The fate of the other aboriginal tribes of the Islands, viz. the Jarawas, the Onges, the Shompens, the Sentinalese and the Great Andamanese, remains unbeknown.

The Sentinalese, the most hostile of the Tribes in Andamans

A youth from the Shompen tribe of Great Nicobar

The heightened interactions with outsiders and systems after tsunami have been a compelling experience for most Nicobarese who are diffident by nature. The process of acculturation and integration is proving to be a painful one. The fact that monetary gains and greed determine social relations amongst ‘non-tribals’ and the realization that each person is out to make money (with the knowledge that the Nicobarese have received compensation monies) challenges local cultural norms in very deep and fundamental ways.

The olden days’ natives of Arong village, Car Nicobar

Well, friends! In most cases, the solutions are apparent and only require the will of the administration to be translated to reality. I, personally, am in the midst of things at Car Nicobar, as you already know, by way of the Child Led Disaster Risk Reduction (CLDRR) project of WBVHA supported by Save the Children – BRB and am coordinating a serious and sincere endeavor towards securing a better-planned and prepared future for the Nicobarese community with the support and assistance of the mighty Tribal Council of Car Nicobar headed by the Chief Captain, Mr. Aberdeen Blair and of course, Mr. Tapan Mandal, the farsighted Development Commissioner, A & N Administration. Hence, I shall keep you all posted about the journey ahead.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008



Dear friends!

I’m again leaving to serve the disaster-struck Car Nicobar on 9th December, 2008 for about a couple of weeks by M V Sentinel. Hence, before I leave, let me share with you all, the very history of DISASTER in the serene Andaman & Nicobar Islands based on my own study on the same during my current project of Child Led Disaster Risk Reduction (CLDRR) that I’m coordinating in the territory of Car Nicobar. Friends, this is what I’ve found out…


The serene Andaman & Nicobar Islands are located in the Bay of Bengal, to which, geographically belong, the Preparis Island and Coco Island (Myanmar) groups also. The islands are formed by the summits of a submarine range connected with the Arakan Yoma of Burma (Myanmar), stretching in a curve (southwards in an arch over 1100 km of sea into Sumatra) to which the Meridian 92 E forms a tangent, between cape Negrais and Sumatra (Achin Head). The extreme north point of Andaman lies in the 13 41’N and the extreme south of Nicobar in 6 45’ N. This curved line of the submarine hills extends for 700 geographical miles & encloses the Andaman Sea in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands. In between, there are numerous straits that separate the 204 islands but if all the islets and rocks were faithfully counted, there are 572 islands in the archipelago. The Islands are 1397 km away from Kolkata.


Total area - 8249 sq. km.

Area of Andaman District - 6408 sq. km.

Area of Nicobar District - 1841 sq. km.

Latitude - 6 45’N to 13 41’N

Longitude - 92 12’E to 93 57’E

Minimum temperature - 16.7 C

Maximum temperature - 36.1 C

Mean annual rainfall - 3180.5 mn

Average relative humidity - 77%

Coast line - 1962 km

Area under cultivation - 150 sq km

Area under plantation - 300 sq km

Area under forests - 7094 sq km

Distance between Port Blair (capital) and Kolkata (by sea) - 1249 km

Distance between Port Blair and Chennai (by sea) - 1190 km



Cyclonic storms struck Port Cornwallis in December, 1792, the Archipelago in November, 1844 and Port Blair in 1864, and November, 1891. There were also abundant signs of destructive storms between Stewart, Sound and Port Cornwallis Islands in 1893. The great storms of 1891 and 1893 traveled across the Islands in a north- westerly direction, creating havoc on both the east and west coasts, that were the most disastrous storms for these islands.

Despite the threat of cyclones and their positions in the path of almost every storm that passes over the Bay of Bengal, the Islands have not been as badly ravaged by the winds as might be expected. Graphic descriptions of the cyclone of 1891, which hit Port Blair, the capital in 1864 & 1891 and the cyclone of 5 Oct, 1921, that passed between Port Blair and Hut Bay and on 5 & 6 Nov, 1989 passed between Mayabunder (North Andaman) and Port Blair were the cyclonic storms that ravaged the greater part of the A & N Islands and though it did not cause much destruction to life, due to Early Warning Systems based on imagery, it left devastation in its wake, with crops flattened, houses destroyed and the entire fields swamped by saline water.


Earthquake occurs when rocks are subjected to strain and rupture, moving past each other suddenly along a fault plane, forming seismic waves that move through the earth. What is called the FOCUS of the earthquake is the place below the surface where the slippage occurred; the EPICENTER is the place on the surface of the earth, directly above the focus. When a severe earthquake occurs, it can destroy buildings and other structures and cause greater loss of life. The tremors caused by earthquake may trigger landslide, or cause certain types of clay to liquefy and flow down slopes, causing damage to structures on its surface. The MAGNITUDE of an earthquake is the amount of energy released. It is read directly from the seismogram record. On the Richter scale the magnitude is registered logarithmically.

Because of the loss of life and property caused by earthquake, geologists and seismologists are trying to find a way to predict them; Chinese scientists have utilized the sudden change in the behavior of animals to predict earthquakes. In the United States and elsewhere, geologists monitor uplift and tilting of the land surface, change in ground water flow and level, and other physical characteristics. Most of the most severe earthquakes occur in the narrow bands along plate boundaries; the goal is to find an accurate way to predict the timing and magnitude of an earthquake.


Although the Andamans lie along or are close to a recognized subterranean line of weakness, earthquakes of great violence have not been recorded during the British occupation. Minor earthquakes occurred in August, 1868, February, 1880, and then storks at intervals till December, 31st, 1881, February, 1882, August, 1883, July, 1886, July, 1894, October, 1894, October, 1894, and in October, 1899. The sound of the great seismic disturbance in the straits of Sunday on August, 26th, 1883 was heard in Port Blair at 9 pm that day, and extra tidal waves caused thereby were felt at 7 am on the 27th.


Seismicity below the sea can generate large sea waves called Tsunamis or Tidal Waves, which cause heavy coastal destruction when they strike the land. The tidal observatory with a self-registering gauze on Ross Island, established in 1880 is situated in 11º 41’N & 92º 45’ E. The heights are referred to the Indian spring low water mark, which for port Blair is 3.53 feet below mean sea level. The highest spring and the lowest neap are 8 feet above and 8 feet below. The mean range of greatest ordinary spring is 6.6feet.


CYCLONIC STORMS - December, 1792 - Port Cornwallis; November, 1844 - Entire Archipelago; November, 1864 - Port Blair; 1st & 2nd November, 1891 - Port Blair; 5th October, 1921 - Between Port Blair & Hut Bay; 5th & 6th November, 1989 - Between Mayabunder (N/Andaman) & Port Blair. 

EARTHQUAKES - 31st Oct to 5th December, 1847 - Great Nicobar; 31st December, 1881- Car Nicobar; August, 1883 - Nicobar Islands; October to November, 1889 - Andaman & Car Nicobar; August, 1868 - Andaman Islands; February, 1880 - Andaman Islands; December, 1881 - Andaman Islands; February, 1882 - Andaman Islands; August, 1883 - Andaman Islands; July, 1886 - Andaman Islands; July, 1894 - Andaman Islands; October, 1899 - Andaman Islands; September, 1990 - Andaman Islands; 1941 - Andaman Islands; 1962 - North Andaman; 1978 - Middle Andaman; 1982 - South Nicobar Group. 

TSUNAMI - 31st October, 1881 - A & N Islands; 26th December, 2004 - A & N Islands.


According to the United States Geologists’ survey, on 26th December, 2004, from Sumatra 250 km in Southeast under the sea, the earthquake originated at 9 Richter scale. Many small islands were displaced 20 meters from their own land. In 25 countries, within 15 minutes, alert order got in place for the tidal waves except Sri Lanka, India and Indonesia, which were the worst affected. Tsunami erupts only if the earthquake is more than 6.5 on Richter scale. According to the scientists, on 26 June, 1941, an 8.1 earthquake on Richter scale did not generate Tsunami.

The Meteorology Department of India has the record of Pacific Ocean’s Tsunami on 17th July, 1998 at Papuanyugini, which killed 2,500 people and on 23rd Aug, 1996 at Philippines, 8,000 people died due to Tsunami but the Government of India failed to set up any type of equipment or machinery to detect earthquakes and Tsunami; however, after 2001 earthquake, it was decided to build a Disaster Management Committee in India at the international level but that did not materialize.

On 26th December, 2004, a catastrophic Tsunami hit India after 121 years and according to the Director of Geological Survey of India and a famous geologist Dr. Sujit Dasgupta, “On 31st December, 1881, Tsunami and earthquake in the coastal region of Bengal and A & N Islands was not so disastrous. According to him, this type of earthquake comes every 114 to 200 years when changes of the tectonic plates of the earth take place.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Children's Day Celebrations in Car Nicobar


News from Car Nicobar Island

A gala cultural evening was organized on 16th November, 2008 in connection with the “Children’s Day Celebrations” at Sawai Village in Car Nicobar by the Child Led Disaster Risk Reduction (CLDRR) project team of West Bengal Voluntary Health Association (WBVHA), one of the most reputed and active NGOs carrying out their operations in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands, supported by Save the Children – Bal Raksha Bharat, member of the world renowned International Save the Children Alliance.

The submerged lighthouse at Malacca, Car Nicobar

The program included a welcome song by the WBVHA Project team led by Miss Irene Mary, the Cluster Coordinator and Mr. Amrose, the Village Level Animator of WBVHA from Tee Top village, presentation of Nicobarese Tribal folk dances by the tribal children of Tapoiming village, Govt. Middle School, Chukchucha, a thematic skit on First Aid by the children of Small Lapathy and Mus village, drawing and painting competition and various other entertainment dances and songs by the tribal children of Sawai village, Car Nicobar under the guidance of Miss Anita Rebecca and Mr. Asim Kumar Bala.

Folk dance by Nicobarese Tribal school girls

The event gathered large crowds from Sawai village and also from the rest of the 14 villages in Car Nicobar Island. There were roars of applause umpteen times during the function and the audience and the guests were enthralled by the spellbinding performance of the Nicobarese Tribal children led by the CLDRR project team of WBVHA.

Speaking on the occasion, the Chief Guest, Mr. Yuda Victor; the First Headman/Captain of Tapoiming village eulogized the efforts being made by the WBVHA project team under the resolute and cordial leadership of the Project Coordinator, Mr. Shrinath Vashishtha through their Child Led Disaster Risk Reduction project for the mammoth benefit of the Nicobarese community. He also expressed great confidence and faith in the operations of the WBVHA project team and hope that the efforts being made by them would be sustained by the community and the WBVHA organization, as well.

Song by WBVHA, CLDRR project team, Car Nicobar

The Guest of Honor, Mr. Philimon Alban, the First Captain/Headman of Sawai village also expressed great contentment regarding the methodology used by WBVHA and the noble objectives of their project of CLDRR. He also exalted the enthusiastic participation of the children from his tribe in the event as well as the CLDRR project that is being carried out by the WBVHA team led by the Project Coordinator, Mr. Shrinath Vashishtha. Later, the Chief Guest, Mr. Yuda Victor, the Guest of Honor, Mr. Phlimon Alban and the special guest Mr. Dharma, the Program Manager, TATA Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Port Blair distributed prizes to the winners of various competitions.

Eventually, the Project Coordinator of WBVHA, Mr. Shrinath Vashishtha, expressed his heartfelt gratitude to the Chief Guest, the guest of honor, the special guests, Mr. Dharma (Program Manager – TISS), Mr. A. L. Patrick, Secretary, Sawai Council, Mr. J. Jaichandran, Deptt. Of Education, Car Nicobar and the entire community of Car Nicobar for gracing the occasion with their esteemed participation and for blessing the children on the auspicious occasion of “Children’s Day Celebrations”. He said, “We are committed to work endlessly and industriously towards the materialization of the dream of an exemplary Nicobarese community in terms of cooperation, communion and a disaster prepared Nicobar that was a passionate resolve of Padma Bhushan, Bishop John Richardson, who can aptly be described as the “Gandhi of Nicobar”. He also expressed profound optimism in receiving the continuous support and assistance of the buoyant Nicobarese community, the Tribal Council of Nicobar and the Andaman & Nicobar Administration towards his team’s drive for accomplishing their goal of -A Disaster Prepared Nicobar”.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Watch the Spectacular Andaman Islands


Andaman paaranga alagha”

(Watch the spectacular Andamans)

Hi, friends!

I’ve been head over heels into business hectically throughout the whole last fortnight or so and hence, haven’t been able to be with you all the way I would have loved to. Anyways, since, I’m leaving for the Car Nicobar Island again early morning tomorrow for the Child Led Disaster Risk Reduction project (CLDRR) for another 10 days or so, I’m in reminiscence of a pretty sonorous film song in “Tamil”, the regional language of Tamilnadu, a major state in South India, which goes like – “Andaman paaranga alagh…”, meaning – “Watch the spectacular Andamans…”.

Hence, here I leave you all, until I return from Car Nicobar about 10 days later, with some spectacular pictures of my home – the Andaman & Nicobar Islands. Enjoy and let me know of your comments too… See you… Ciao…

Sea shore at Car Nicobar

The two sided spic & span beach connecting Ross & Smith Islands at North Andaman

Islands basking in nature’s color

Freely roaming deer at Ross Island, the erstwhile British capital of the Islands

The seasoned Sun, setting in Andaman

The “worth-falling-in-love” beach at the Smith Islands (N/Andaman)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Rainfall, Active Volcano, Tours & Flights in Andaman


Dear friends! Here’s wishing you all a very “HAPPY DIWALI”, the annual Hindu festival of lights celebrated throughout India with peerless religious fervor by the followers of all religions, alike, making a strong statement of matchless communal harmony & integration throughout the globe.

I’m back to Port Blair from Car Nicobar where I’m currently Coordinating the implementation of Child Led Disaster Risk Reduction (CLDRR) Project under the aegis of the NGO - West Bengal Voluntary Health Association (WBVHA). The project is supported by the world renowned NGO – Save the Children – BRB for the community of Car Nicobar that was the worst affected by the tsunami of 26th December, 2004. I’d elaborate on the project later.

As of now, since it’s raining cats and dogs in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands and a low pressure area has been created in the Bay of Bengal, here, let me present to you an interesting account on rains in these Islands.

Rain as companion

As detailed in my earlier posts, these Islands receive an inordinate amount of rainfall thanks to the “very green, thick, majestic, humid, dark, warm and wet” Tropical Rain Forests. Sometimes during the incessant torrential rainfall, the runway at the Veer Savarkar airport in Port Blair goes under water and the flights are turned back.

A couple of months ago, when the hurricane Nargis had stormed through the Islands across to Myanmar, the waters came into the terminal building, and stayed like an uninvited guest long enough to destroy most equipment like baggage scanners. Maybe it is an illusion but as you get off the plane and look at the runway it almost appears like a boomerang, with both ends raised.

Water logging due to Hurricane Nargis at Humphreygunj, South Andaman

Back in the Seventies, flights coming in from Calcutta used to stop over at Rangoon (Myanmar), as those days only small planes like Dakota, Viscount etc. with a seating capacity of 10–16 passengers only used to operate between the Islands and the mainland India.

More recently, till 2004, there were only four flights a day. That was before the Tsunami. Under its weight, the local economy lay crushed. To revive it, public sector workers were encouraged to visit Port Blair on LTC (Leave Travel Concession). From two lakh tourists they burgeoned to seven lakh in 2006. Never had the locals seen so many tourists visiting the islands.

The airport began to receive 13 flights a day.

Home boarding began at Rupees 1,000 a day; hotels added rooms; people took loans to buy Maruti Omnis to run as taxis. The one small dam, the Dhanikhari, could not supply so much water. Vegetables began to cost more: Rupees 80 a kilo for cabbage, beans, beetroot, all of which came from Chennai and Kolkata. From a holiday paradise it became a nightmare.

The LTC holiday-makers came with their entire families and often with no more than Rs 1,000 in their wallets. If the weather turned & their flights got cancelled they were done for. When they had nowhere to go and no flights that day to take them home, they sometimes found shelter in the airport. The Tour operators tried to make hay while the sun shone, buying tickets in bulk at cut rates, which were charged to the companies at full cost. “But everybody was happy - the tour operator, the LTC traveler, and the hotelier… Last year apparently, the government scrapped the LTC to Port Blair. The Paradise regained.”

A spectacular sea beach at Neil Island

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands take up about a fourth of India’s 6,500 km coastline and 30 per cent of India’s Exclusive Economic Zone falls in these waters. Yet, only 32 out of the 572 islands are inhabited, since habitability depends upon availability of potable water. “Which is again odd, considering that it rains out here about nine months of the year, sometimes incessantly for days at a stretch. You wake to the sound of rain falling, go about your business with the rain falling and when you sleep the last sound you hear is the rain falling. It becomes a constant companion, almost like tinnitus. You get used to it.”

Since these Islands bear the full brunt of both the North East and South West monsoon, only October, November, February and March are relatively rain-free. And although this region is far removed from the consciousness of the mainlanders, just south of Nicobar lies the Six Degree Channel, connecting to the Malacca Straits where piracy abounds. It is through here that the heavy traffic passes, about a 100 ships a day, oil tankers, cargo vessels, pleasure boats and the like connecting the East to the West. Our Coast Guard people here are thus reasonably busy. Every other day there is a distress call: man overboard, engine failure, leakage, and ship adrift …


The volcano in Barren Island was showing signs of restiveness a couple of years ago. It is India’s only active volcano, erupting fitfully. During times like this, a boat does a night cruise around Barren Island and anchors off it so you get to see the fireworks.

The local Coast Guard chief hopped on to a Dornier aircraft in the night and took some pictures of the glowing mouth. He showed me those pictures and I saw them with a sense of wonder. That was the closest I have ever got to a spouting volcano. Some 135 km away,” said a beaming V. Sudershan, who was on a tour here.

The Barren Island Volcano in a dormant stage

But Barren Island, max three kilometers at its widest, is not entirely barren. There are bats and birds and crabs. But its most interesting denizen is the feral goat. Nobody knows how it got there but local lore has it that the goat was dropped off by a ship in the eighteenth century. Many stories of evolution surround these goats. One version says their necks are longer than those of normal goats for over the years they have sought sustenance from branches of a few trees, which persist on the island despite all that lava and ash. “All that stretching had a Lamarckian effect on their necks. But the bigger mystery was - how did they survive without any known fresh water source? It was speculated that they drank sea water, a feat unparalleled in the goat world. At last, sometime ago a scientific expedition discovered a couple of cold streams on Barren island.”

Sea cucumbers’ lure

With so many uninhabited islands covered thickly with trees, it is a temptation to timber poachers and divers looking for a bit of the coral reefs. Some look for sea cucumbers, a slug like creature that lives on the sea bottom and among corals in the shallow waters. It is considered a delicacy in East Asian markets and fetches high prices in restaurants. The Chinese cherish them for medicinal value. Like tiger penis, sea cucumbers are thought to be very aphrodisiacal.

So they are consumed in great quantities in many forms, from soups to powders.

But local authorities say that the malarial forests and prevalence of brain fever deters sea poachers or sea pirates from setting up base in one or the other of the innumerable uninhabited islands.”

Courtesy: V Sudershan; Express

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Andaman & Nicobar - A Major Port...


Andaman & Nicobar May Get a Major Port

Ministry also mulling a shipping co. in Andaman with SCI having stake in it.

Under the Central jurisdiction, the port can access budgetary grants. It can be developed as a transshipment port such as Colombo.


MV Swarajdweep - One of the biggest ships plying between the Islands & Mainland India.

The Shipping Ministry is considering a move to set up a port in Andaman under the Major Ports Act, which will allow the port at the Andaman & Nicobar Islands to be funded from the Centre.

The Ministry is also exploring the possibility of setting up a shipping company at Andaman in which the Shipping Corporation of India (SCI) will have a stake. The shipping company will acquire and operate ships.

Under the Central jurisdiction, the port can access budgetary grants. It can be developed as a transshipment port such as Colombo in Sri Lanka, where majority of cargo is transshipped.

Nods awaited:

Nods from the Island Development Authority (IDA) headed by the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh and the Planning Commission are required to execute the proposal. The proposal is at a fairly nascent stage, as of now.

According to Mr. Manoranjan Bhakta, Member of Parliament, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, “This has been our long-pending demand. The Andamans enjoy a location advantage for accessing South-East Asia. The Centre can develop this as a gateway for foreign trade.”

Currently, the major ports are Kolkata, Haldia, Paradip, Vishakhapattanam, Chennai, Tuticorin, Cochin, New Mangalore, Marmagao, Jawaharlal Nehru port, Ennore and Kandla.

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands have 23 ports, according to the Indian Ports Association data — Port Blair, Mus (Car Nicobar), Havelock, Mayabunder, Diglipur, Rangat, Hut Bay, Katchal, Campbell Bay, Neil Island, Dugong Creek, Nancowry, Chowra, Teressa, Kondul, Pillow Millow, East Island, Cinque Island, Jolly Bouy Island, Tillongchong, Castle Bay and South Bay. According to the Government data, ports at Pondicherry (now – Puducherry), Andaman and Nicobar, and Lakshadweep together handled 1.6 million tonnes of cargo in 2006-07.

Incidentally, a high-powered committee set up by the Government a few years ago had recommended developing Port Blair as a cruise tourism destination.

Port Management:

The shipping activities at A&N Islands are managed by the Port Management Board, which is under the A&N Administration. So, the income from shipping operations accrues to the consolidated fund. “If a major port were to be set up, it would help to have a coordinated development of port as a transshipment hub given the geographical advantage,” Mr. Mohammed Jadwet, President, Andaman Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said.

The administration has a fleet of 70-80 odd vessels—mostly passenger, some passenger-cum-cargo and some pure cargo,” said Mr. Jadwet. He also said that given the administration’s fleet size, “corporatisation” of shipping operations would help access better technical knowledge. About 5-6 of these vessels that offer services between the mainland and the Islands, are managed by SCI and the administration pays management fee to the SCI.

There are five private companies that offer cargo services between mainland and the Islands, namely - GATI, Transport Corporation of India (TCI), EHL (Ellon Hinengo Ltd.), MAK & ITT Shipping,” he said.

Then there are some 20-25 companies that offer inter-island services with 50-100 ton vessels.

Currently, Shipping Corporation of India offers regular passenger services to Port Blair from Chennai, Kolkata and Vishakhapattanam and back. There are three to four sailings every month from Kolkata and Chennai to Port Blair and vice-versa, according to the official website of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. There is one sailing from Vishakhapattanam (Andhra Pradesh) in a month.

Courtesy: The Hindu, Business Line.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008



 Rajan is unique. He flies in the waters of the Bay of Bengal with the ease of a pelican in the air.

He may be a majestic giant on land, but in the water he seems to transform into a weightless creature specially designed to fly in the sea.

(Photo: Barefoot Resorts, Havelock)
Rajan of the sea: At ease in the water

If you’ve ever imagined flying with an elephant in a surreal world, you sure can realize your dream with the help of a male tusker called Rajan in the Andaman Islands.

For a country that has an estimated 25,000 wild elephants and 3,500 domesticated elephants, there is always something happening with regard to the elephants. Even so, Rajan is unique. He flies in the waters of the Bay of Bengal with the ease of a pelican in the air.

As he kicks his legs backwards, he puts out his tail and pushes out his trunk, frequently lifting it out of water for a breath of fresh air.

When an unwary tourist comes his way, he swiftly moves away avoiding collision. The islanders think he is the only elephant who can swim in the sea so gracefully.

Rajan is 57 years old, but his spirit seems to be that of a young elephant. He goes for a walk at 6 a.m. and returns to the Barefoot Resort in the evening.

When the weather is hot, he goes down to the Bay. Rajan’s story goes back to 2004 when he was stranded on the Havelock Island after a film shoot.

His owner could not pay for the cargo vessel to ship him to a nearby island. He subsequently fell sick and the Barefoot Resort on the island took him under its care.

But Rajan’s story continues… His owner is now trying to sell Rajan for Rs.24 lakhs to a temple in Kerala. So the Barefoot is raising funds to save him. In an effort to raise funds, Rajan also does his bit. He occasionally swims with tourists and raises money.

In performing the cosmic dance in tune with the twinkling sun on the water, he seems to express his joy of being on the Havelock and finding his freedom.


Courtesy: The Hindu, Young World.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

ANDAMAN PHOTO FEATURE1 - Tropical Rain Forests, Savarkar, Tsunami, Dolphins


A Photo Feature on Andaman Islands

Dear friends,

For long I’ve been receiving umpteen e-mails from many of you readers asking me to post some prime pictures of the present day Andaman Islands.

Especially after reading the spine-tingling saga of the British maneuvered Penal Settlement at Andaman, many have been wondering what do the present day Andamans look like.

So, folks! Here’s presenting a series of posts with pictures for your contemplation about the present-day Andamans-

That’s where we are…

The proximity to Indonesia spells out the extent of devastation suffered by the archipelago due to the Tsunami of 26th December 2004.

Banda Atjeh in Indonesia was the place that was the epicenter of the earthquake of 9.2 intensity on the Richter scale that resulted in the gargantuan Tsunami and that lies just 250 Km away from the Southernmost tip of India – the Indira Point (erstwhile “Pygmalion Point”) in Great Nicobar, which now lies submerged.

Indira Point before Tsunami

Indira Point after Tsunami

Aerial view of the Andaman Islands

It almost feels like watching green colored cauliflowers floating amid the sea due to the densely forested expanse of the Tropical Rain Forests. Very green, thick, majestic, humid, dark, warm and wet – these words describe these forests aptly. These forests grow in the tropics between the Tropic of Cancer and Capricorn in high rainfall condition area called TROPICAL RAIN FORESTS.

My dear friends, these forests have been evolving for more than 30 million years and occupy only 2% of the earth’s surface today. Yet they contain 50% of all species of living things! No other area on land contains such diversity.

Imagine how intensely immediate the need to conserve these forests is, at least now, when we are perilously faced with the alarming issue of Global Warming!!! Well, let’s join hands for its conservation and protection for future generations! Shall we?

Runway at Veer Savarkar Airport, Port Blair

It has been named after the great Maratha patriot Vinayak Damodar Savarkar.

Oh! What a great revolutionary freedom fighter he was! He was the one the merciless German Jailor of the Cellular Jail was awfully terrified of. David Barry, who used to bellow at his prisoners-,

Listen you Prisoners,
It is here we tame lions,
Remember! God does not come
within three miles of Port Blair…
In the universe there is but one
God who lives in the heaven above
but in Port Blair, there are two. One -
the God of Heaven and the other - the God of Earth.
Indeed the God of Earth is myself.”

David Barry had series of nightmares host of times a day just hearing of the physically short and lean powerhouse revolutionary, popularly known as Veer Savarkar.

He was arrested in England on the excuse that the pistol sent by him was used in the Nasik conspiracy case in which his brother Ganesh had already been sent to the Andamans. While being transported by a ship to India, Veer Savarkar, jumped from the ship to escape at Marseilles Port, France. The French police captured him and handed him over to the British 13th March, 1910. He was then deported to Andamans.

North Bay Light House”

The Gateway to Port Blair

If you sail to Port Blair, the capital of the A & N Islands, this is where you enter the harbor through. The mountain at the back is Mt. Harriet, the second highest peak in the archipelago. Lord Mayo, the British Viceroy of India was killed by the Wahabi (Pathan) convict, Sher Ali at the base of this mountain.

You are in for a really fascinating treat in this region as you are welcomed to Port Blair by clusters of enchanting dolphins dancing in and out of the deep blue waters, often swimming alongside your ship.

To be continued…