Port Blair, Nov 08: An unsigned press release was issued on behalf of Andaman and Nicobar Administration from Deputy Commissioner’s office this evening claimed that ‘All Is Well’ in Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Despite claims of public that the local infrastructure has totally collapsed and there is a huge gap between public and local Administration, the press release claimed that the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in recent past has embarked on a road towards exponential development in all sectors of governance. The Central Sponsored Schemes has been major focus of the UT Administration.
To begin with, the press release said, a number of development schemes have garnered tremendous progress in recent past. Andaman and Nicobar Islands was already Open Defecation Free much before the target date on 2nd October, 2017 in municipal area and was declared ODF on 31st January, 2018 for entire Islands.
However in reality during visit to North and Middle Andaman one can see hundreds of people urinating in Public at Jirkatang Check Post many even respond to nature’s call in open due to lack of sufficient Toilet Blocks in the area. Local media reported about this issue several times in past but this problem has not been addressed yet.
The press release claimed that Under UJALA scheme, 4 lakh LED bulbs have been distributed and PBMC is 13th Smart city Municipality to totally replace all street lights bulbs with LED bulbs in India. Further, in November end this year entire Islands will be covered with LED streetlights.
“All household have been electrified under Pradhan Mantri Bijili Har Ghar Sahej Yojana (Saubhagya) Scheme and only two cases in Shoalbay have come up, which will be electrified by end of this week. Under PMAY land allotment is being done to about 2000 landless beneficiaries at the rate of 50 sq. mtrs. which is historic in UT Administrations developmental graph. Number of development projects such as 50 MW LNG based power plant where Power Purchasing Agreement has been already signed on 26th October, 2018 is on anvil. The plant will be completed and start functioning with in record 24 months,” the press release added.
The release further added that in addition, 37 MW Solar power plant in Port Blair and 1 MW each in Neil & Havelock are in final stages and will be completed by December end. In this regard 5 MW & 10 MW DG power plant has already been commissioned which makes the total capacity of A&N Islands stand at 43 MW to handle peak demand of 38 MW which makes A&N Islands power surplus for the first time in the history. Moreover the focus of Administration is to move away from fossil fuel power to green and clean energy.
“Civil Operation of airport at Shibpur (North &Middle Andaman) will commence this December. One of the major upcoming successful projects is under sea OFC which is expected to be completed within record 24 months and shall end all connectivity issues of Island group once and for all. Meanwhile, enhancement of bandwidth to 4 GBps has been already taken up. These initiatives in near future will fill gaps in connectivity. In Rural road under PMGSY, 80 km rural roads have been completed in last two years, whereas, only 16 km of roads was completed from 2000-2017. This quantum jump exemplifies the will for development of UT Administration. Further, on demand of the Member of Parliament, 264.58 km of road has been taken up under PMGSY with Ministry of Rural Development and in-principle approval for 6 km has been received and rest is awaited. In this rapid developmental bandwagon, bridge connecting Chatham & Bambooflat is under DPR stage whose foundation may be done in December end. This will solve the much demanded road connectivity issue across Port Blair,” the released said.
With regards to National Highway connecting Port Bair to Diglipur, the release further claimed that NHIDCL has already started the construction of the roads and has committed that by December end, 2018, major stretches of 330 km will be completed, which will resolve major concerns of public and take development levels to newer heights.
“Keeping in view the ecologically sensitive Islands, A&N Islands Administration has written to the Ministry to allow zero import duty on importing stones from South East Asia which is very near from places like Campbell Bay which shall address the issue of non-availability and would be cheaper as well. Moreover, to enhance our business units, Department of Industries has invited applications time to time as the availability has risen and has already allotted one shed and 5 plots to entrepreneurs to set up industries. Administration has also formulated a draft Startup Policy which shall be operationalized w.e.f, Dec. 2018.
In Shipping sector, the issue of non-operating vessels has been taken by Shipping Corporation of India and 4 non-operational vessels will be operationalised by 03rd week of Nov. and for another 3 vessels SCI is in tendering process, these combined will enhance number of operational vessels in A&N Islands and improve inter-Island connectivity,” the press release said.
Further in the release it is mentioned that to address water availability PBMC has been forthcoming and working in a war footing manner by laying pipelines across Port Blair area with increased diameter, so that water is provided seamlessly to households. At present 27 MLD of potable water is being supplied to households and other establishments within Port Blair city and now for augmentation of present distribution system to meet the requirement of 40 MLD, the work of 25.5 km for water distribution network and a capacity of 8 lakh liters of water reservoir is in progress under AMRUT scheme. To further increase water availability, project in Rutland has been commissioned and expected to be completed by Jan, 2020. This will greatly resolve the water scarcity in South Andaman.
“Total urban road comprises of more than 70 km out of which 59 km are in good condition and maintenance of 22.5 km road is already under DPR stage and work would soon start. With regards to the 4th Finance Commission recommendation, Ministry of Home Affairs had directed to devolve 3.5% of total UT Plan to local bodies. The UT Administration has already earmarked 223.01 Cr (4.53% of UT Plan) in 2018-19 to local bodies and in the coming year has pledged to devolve 295.55 Cr. This is more than as mandated by Government of India. Moreover, the Master Plan of South Andaman is being examined by a team of officers and 1st meeting was held on 27th October, 2018 where views of the PRI members and other association were taken. The process once completed shall be further deliberated to resolve any issue that may be noticed,” the press release said.
Meanwhile, social media of Andaman and Nicobar islands is the best place to understand the ground reality and frustration brewing among Islanders due to failure of Administration in addressing major issues.
However, it is still not clear that why such press release claiming overall growth of Administration did not come from IP Division or Raj Niwas and why the press release, which was unsigned, was issued by Deputy Commissioner’s office.