Port Blair Connected With Mainland Via Optical Fibre Cable : Move Strategically Crucial
Out of 572 islands of the Andaman and Nicobar group only 37 are inhabited. Some of these are home to indigenous tribes that have been declared as no-go areas and are closed to nearly everyone except government and defence officials and officially permitted researchers.
The spread and location of the islands along the Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean make them crucial to India’s maritime security and strategic goals. While the southernmost island is some 90 nautical miles from Indonesia, the northernmost island is just 22 nautical miles from Myanmar, both countries that have friendly ties with India.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the 2,312-kilometre Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) connecting Chennai and Port Blair. Thus a major step has been taken to connect the strategically located Andaman & Nicobar with mainland for fast communication. The project is also a reminder of the strategic importance of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and their emergence as a critical archipelago in the Indian Ocean region as India grapples with the consequences of an increasingly aggressive China.
The PM said that besides boosting connectivity the laying of the under-sea cable will also help tourism, which is a key source of income for the inhabitants of the beautiful islands.
“From Chennai to Port Blair, Port Blair to Little Andaman and Port Blair to Swaraj Dweep, this service has started in large part of Andaman Nicobar from today,” the PM said. The PM said that besides boosting connectivity the laying of the under-sea cable will also help tourism, which is a key source of income for the inhabitants of the beautiful islands.
IN 2018 December it was PM Modi who had laid the foundation for the project, to bring high-speed broadband to the islands.
While the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited executed the project, Telecommunications Consultants India Limited was the technical consultant. The OFC was laid at a cost of around Rs 1,224 crore.
The task of protecting the trade routes and the entire Indian Ocean Region falls on the Indian Navy. Keeping the routes free is important not just for India but for the entire maritime global trade in the Indo-Pacific. That’s why the communication set up is of utmost importance.
Till about 1980, the islands were little more than an anthropological curiosity.
There have been reports that China is conducting surveillance missions near Indian waters under the garb of anti-piracy drives.
But the economic growth in Asia, burgeoning trade via the sea lines of communication (SLOCs) that pass through the Andaman Sea and Malacca Straits, and the emergence of China as a global power have made the islands the centre of attention.
The Tri-Services Andaman and Nicobar Command is at the operational heart of India’s strategic and security interests in the Indian Ocean. With China’s behaviour in Ladakh and elsewhere, India may consider making the islands a hub for wringing the dragons jugular vein passing through the IOR …..the Chinese Oil Supply and other trades.