CRZ nod for submarine cable project with riders

Addl. marine EIA study < Spl. budget for marine protection measures < BMH locations on landward side < NIOT third party observer
Report by: 
EOI BUREAU
Port Blair
9 Dec 2018

In a big stride towards execution of the most ambitious Submarine Cable project, the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) of the Ministry of Environment and Forest for projects related to Coastal Regulation Zone has recommended the project for IPZ/CRZ clearance recently. In the 203rd EAC meeting held on the 28th of last month at New Delhi, the Committee, however, laid down certain conditions. “As part of Detailed Project Report (DPR) to be carried out, a road map for conducting additional marine EIA study through NIOT, Chennai especially in areas likely to pass through corals shall be submitted within three months from the date of clearance to the Ministry and also to NIOT, Chennai. The study shall explicitly spell out additional mitigation measures required to be undertaken along the route of the cable laying including financial implication that will have to be met by the project proponent. Thereafter, the study shall be completed within three months. The measures so suggested by the study shall be further prescribed either by way of a corrigendum or an amendment to the IPZ/CRZ clearance by the Ministry,” as per documents accessed by EOI.
The EIA also suggested that an inbuilt monitoring and compliance of the measures suggested by NIOT, Chennai shall be prepared by the project proponent and the same reported to the concerned departments/agencies including MoEFCC and NIOT, Chennai. The project proponent shall ensure that NIOT, Chennai is associated as a third party observer in the cable laying system until its final completion. NIOT, Chennai shall give advice from time to time during the period and the project proponent shall take measures accordingly, said the Committee.
The project proponent shall earmark a special budget for marine protection measures and in particular for coral transplantation or coral plantation in the region along the cable route. Defence clearance as admissible shall be obtained prior to undertaking the work of cable laying and utmost care shall be taken while transferring and storage of construction material to project site so that the IPZ/CRZ characteristics of the site / route is least disturbed. All beach manhole (BMH) locations must be on landward side and not on the beach, instructed the Committee.
The submarine OFC cable system will connect eight islands in these islands namely Port Blair, Little Andaman (Hut Bay), Car Nicobar, Kamorta, Great Nicobar (Campbell Bay), Havelock Long and Rangat Islands) with Chennai. During the meeting, officials of the UT Administration told that Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF), Department of Telecommunication (DoT) proposed plan of connecting the Andaman and Nicobar (ANI) group of islands (eight nos. of islands) with mainland in India at Chennai through submarine optic fibre cable system on a fast mode as Andaman and Nicobar Islands telecommunication connectivity is in a very poor state and the UT Administration and its population have long been deprived of reasonable acceptable connectivity unlike mainland India. The Committee was also informed that the submarine cable system in addition to being an initiative of better connectivity of the A&N Islands has also a segment purely dedicated for Defence sector. The Cable will land at beaches and terminate in the proposed Beach Manhole (BMH) locations. Cable from BMH will then be taken to cable landing station (CLS) for distribution. All 8 BMHs and 3 CLS falls within the ICRZ area as per the survey conducted by IRS, Anna University, Chennai. Cable will be laid in sea bed but if the depth is more than 1 km then it is buried upto 0.6 to 1 m depth through the ROV equipment. Total segments of submarine cable will be 8, total cable length will be 2245.96 km and total route length will be 2199.66 km.