The archipelago of Andaman and Nicobar (A & N) Islands is located at the confluence of vital sea lines of communication. This makes the region one of great geo-strategic relevance, translating into opportunities and advantages.  The location of these islands, the rich resources of marine wealth, the abundant forests and unique ecology require care and protection. Protection of these Islands and waters, makes the A&N Islands very important in the security matrix of the country.  It is therefore prudent to have a strong and visible security capability to protect our interests in this vital region.  It is also of utmost importance for us that the fragile eco system, tribal culture and the unique attributes of these Islands are nurtured and protected.


The unified nature of the military setup in the Islands has existed since the early 1970s.  Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC) was commissioned on 08 Oct 2001 as the first unified Command, comprising the Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard.

Since its inception, the Unified Command  has effectively performed its charter of duties encompassing safeguarding the Islands, as well as the nation’s maritime boundaries including EEZ and air space, search and rescue at sea as well as anti-poaching operations.  In addition, the Command has been actively involved in assisting civil authorities for welfare and improvement of the Islands; be it disaster management, social welfare schemes, livelihood/employment of locals including human resource development and training for better job prospects, training to improve capacities as in training of Police/IRBN personnel for internal security duties alongside the military, welfare of ex serviceman and our senior citizens.  The ANC in its eleven years of existence has forged a strong security presence in this Eastern most bastion of India. ANC has risen from being a vision to an inspiration; a true representation of seamless jointness between the Army, Navy, Air Force and the Coast Guard and in close synergy with the civil administration and society.

The Command is presently headed by Lt General NC Marwah, PVSM, AVSM.  The General took over as the 10th Commander-in-Chief of the Andaman and Nicobar Command (CINCAN) on 01 Jan 11.  Prior to assuming charge of ANC, he was the Corps Commander of the prestigious Chinar Corps based at Srinagar.


The Primary role of the Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC) is to ensure safety and security of Andaman and Nicobar Island and the sea areas around this vital space. The responsibility has enhanced with the CINCAN also being designated as the Commander-in-Chief Coastal Defence, for the A & N region. Additionally, the ANC provides effective assistance and support in the protection of the Exclusive Economic Zone (a vast area of 5, 95,217 square km, roughly 30% of total EEZ) of the country for which regular surveillance and patrolling of the seas surrounding the Islands is carried out.

As part of ANC’s mission of ‘Showing the Flag’ and also with the view to promoting goodwill among neighbouring nations and strengthening the spirit of friendship, assets of ANC regularly visit neighboring countries like Myanmar, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore,  as also host foreign ships and delegations visiting  the Islands.

Protection of EEZ: Andaman & Nicobar Command (ANC), is continuing with its active and effective anti-poaching operations as part of Coastal Security measures in the Andaman Sea region. Various joint operations have been carried out and large number of poachers apprehended. In the year 2011, 387 poachers were apprehended and 43 boats were apprehended. In the current year ¬¬¬124 poachers and19 boats have been captured so far.


Jaan Pehchan Patrols.  The Army Component regularly sends Joint area familiarisation patrols to most uninhabited and remote Islands of Andaman and Nicobar. The aim of Jaan - Pehchan Patrols is to establish presence in Remote and Isolated Islands. In the current year the units of the Army Component of the Command carried out Jaan-Pehchan Patrols in many remote places of Northern and Southern Group of Islands, wherein they have established very good rapport with the locals and the environment.


Exercise TAT - SURAKSHA 01/12.   A three day  long Joint Coastal Security Exercise was conducted in the Andaman Sea concluding on 13 Apr 12.  Various central and state maritime stakeholders i.e A & N Administration, Marine Police, State Police, Fisheries Department, Forest Department, Port Management Board (PMB), Directorate of Shipping Services (DSS), Light House Authorities, Customs along with assets from Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard of Andaman and Nicobar Command participated in the exercise. 

The exercise was controlled and coordinated from Joint Operations Centre (Coastal Security) - JOC (CS), at HQ ANC. This was the fifth such exercise conducted in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Such exercises greatly help in formalizing and fine tuning the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) on coastal security involving a number of agencies and synergizing their efforts.


Ex-TROPEX.  Exercise TROPEX was conducted in Andaman & Nicobar area of responsibility from 15 Feb to 23 Feb 12 in which forces from the mainland exercised demonstrating joint capabilities and interoperability, and highlighting our capabilities to ensure the defence of A & N Islands.

Helocasting and Slithering:  These exercises are conducted at regular intervals by MI-8 inserting Special Forces and Army personnel to enhance the operational efficiency at sea and over land.


IND-INDO CORPAT.  The India-Indonesia Coordinated Patrol (IND-INDO CORPAT) commenced with the Indonesian Navy in 2003, with the aim of coordinating patrolling, piracy exercise and Search and Rescue (SAR) missions. The biannual exercise is conducted at regular intervals in the Andaman Sea. The opening and closing ceremonies are organized alternately Port Blair and Belawan, Indonesia.      

INDO - THAI CORPAT.       The Indo-Thai Corpat was undertaken from 19- 26 Apr 12. The closing ceremony of the 14th cycle of Indo – Thai Corpat was conducted at Port Blair from 24 – 25 Apr 12. Royal Thai Navy Ship HTMS Kamronsin and one Dornier participated in the Mega Event. Vice Admiral Taratorn Kajitswan, Commander 3rd Naval Area visited Port Blair to participate in the closing ceremony. There are also regular exercises and  joints concerns are addressed in a collaborative manner.


The biennial conglomeration MILAN that commenced in 1995 provides a prime opportunity for ships and delegations from the Asia-Pacific Maritime Navies to participate in various exercises and interactions. Milan seeks to foster bonds of ‘Friendship across the Seas’ and to share/discuss Regional Maritime Security, mutual trust, co-operation and understanding on common maritime issues. MILAN has been held seven times since 1995, what started with participation of four foreign countries has since grown in stature and a  total of fourteen foreign countries participated in this grand mega event of Milan 2012. 

MILAN-12 was last organised at Port Blair from 01 Feb 12.  Naval ships from Australia, Brunei, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Bangladesh and Indonesia arrived in Port Blair to participate in MILAN 12. An ‘International Maritime Seminar’ on ‘Capacity Building Through Maritime Cooperation’ was conducted on 03 Feb 12. The seminar was inaugurated by Lt Gen (Retd) Bhopinder Singh, PVSM, AVSM, Lt Governor, Andaman and Nicobar Islands. In his inaugural address, the Lt Governor highlighted the role of Navies in Capacity Building Through Maritime Cooperation.


Super Hercules: Gigantic Flying Machine lands at Air Force Station, Car Nicobar.   On 28 May 12 an IAF C-130J aircraft touched down at AF Station Carnic on its maiden flight. It marked a big leap in our strategic reach demonstrating the Nations ability to reach out to these remote and far-flung islands.  This also showcases our ability and operational capability to induct resources and forces for any eventuality. This vision of our planners to induct such versatile machines needs cognizance as the ANC stands ready for every mission.

NCC Cadets Day at Sea.   A day at sea for NCC cadets was conducted on            14 Feb 12. 200 NCC cadets from various islands embarked on four warships and sailed for five hours into the high seas as part of training for familiarization. Various exercises like firing, station keeping and SAR demonstration by IN Chetak were undertaken during the event. Additionally, cadets visited the ships in harbour and were taken around the ships for familiarization. The interaction of cadets with Indian Navy is a big motivation for them to join Armed forces as well as to sail on a warship and achieve sea legs.

Eastern Fleet Ships At Port Blair. Four ships of the Indian Navy from Eastern Fleet entered Port Blair on 03 Jul 12, after undertaking an operational deployment to the South China Sea and the North West Pacific. The ships deployed include indigenously built Guided Missile Stealth Frigate, a Guided Missile Destroyer, a Guided Missile Corvette and a versatile fast Fleet replenishment Tanker.

Disaster Relief.  It has been an earnest endeavour to stay prepared and trains to meet any natural disaster in the pristine islands. ANC conducted three major exercises in this regard to test our capabilities and further improve upon our response mechanism, so that we are able to help our fellow citizens in the time of need.   During one such event the elements of ANC from the Birchgunj Brigade, local Flotilla and Eastern Fleet set up a Humanitarian and Disaster Relief Camp at Hut Bay (Little Andaman Island) on 24 Sep 12 towards developing joint capabilities and capacities.  During this camp, the Islanders were familiarized with the role of the military in aid to civil power in disaster relief contingencies. Instructions were imparted to more than 300 people including children about the practices that could be adopted to tackle any natural disaster like Tsunami. The team also gave demonstrations to the general public regarding conduct of mass evacuation, first aid and general counseling. The team encouraged the maintenance of morale and maintaining high confidence levels so as to tackle any untoward eventuality.

Rescue Of Policeman From Tilangchang By IAF Mi-8 Helicopter.  ANC is constantly involved in rescue and evacuation of our civilian brothers on 29 Feb 12, AF Station Carnic received an SOS from Andaman and Nicobar Police for emergency rescue of a policeman who had been bitten by a venomous snake at Tillanchang. Upon receipt of this information, 122 HF sprang into action. The swift action taken by Andaman and Nicobar Command saved the life of the police personnel of A & N administration.            

Tsunami Relief (Evacuation of 15 Police Personnels from Indra Point).  On    12 Apr intimation was received by this HQ from INCOIS about a potential Tsunami that might be generated in view of multiple earthquakes that took place in the region South of Indonesia. Accordingly disaster management apparatus was activated and people at out laying dets were put on alert. Request was received from civil administration to evacuate police personnel located at Indira Point. Immediately  Andaman & Nicobar Command carried out Tsunami contingency proceedings , wherein 15 police personal  were evacuated by MI-8 from Indira point to safe places.      


Veterans and Family Day (17 Jun 12): In a series of activities proposed for    ex-servicemen in the ‘Year of Veterans’, a Veteran & Family Day was organized in Brichgunj Military Station on 17 Jun 12.  A total of 140 ex-servicemen (approximate) attended the meet.

ESM RALLY (23 SEP 12).  Support to Ex-servicemen (ESM) continued in Birchgunj Military Station as part of the “Year of the Veteran” to honour and support Ex-servicemen who have served the Nation with pride and given their best years to the nation.  In consonance with the theme, an ESM Rally was organized for resolving pension related cases on 23 September 2012 by 154 Infantry Battalion (Territorial Army) BIHAR at Birchgunj Military Station. It was attended by approx 77 ESM and their families / widows from the Islands.  The event was organized under the aegis of the Amphibian Brigade.

IRBN TRAINING: Towards fulfilling the commitment of providing assistance to Civil Administration and enhancing the scope of Civil-Military interface, the Army Component has been providing regular training to the Police recruits and the recruits of Indian Reserve Battalion. The Army Component had imparted training to the first batch of Indian Reserve Battalion recruits last year and this year the Army Component has trained two more batches of Indian Reserve Battalion recruits. In effect, a total of three batches of 135 Indian Reserve Battalion recruits have been successfully trained by the Army Component.

Training of Police Rect Constables.  In order to familiarize the recruits with the organization and work culture of the Army as well as to train on field craft and tactics, jungle survival, ambush and map reading, a special training for 257 Police Recruit Constables of Andaman and Nicobar Police has been organized.   ANC also under took training awareness program, so to ensure maximum number of young boys get job opportunities.

Employment opportunities.    In view to enhance the job opportunities and undertake human resource development to the local populace, nine personnel have been recruited in Static workshop and one in the Territorial Army unit.   Three individuals have been sent for apprentice training on the mainland and large number of individuals will be recruited in a phased manner in ANC establishments.

Medical Camps At Remote Islands.              Andaman and Nicobar Command through INHS Dhanvantari has taken a proactive initiative to ensure delivery of health care to the needy civilian and tribal population of various Islands including the remotely located Southern Group of Islands.

Various outreach programmes are undertaken by the Command, in which multispecialty medical camps are organised in various parts of the islands at regular intervals for the benefit of the local population in many of the far flung islands of Andaman and Nicobar.   A total of 10 such camps were held in the year of 2011 and 05 camps in this year till to date.

Pulse Polio Immunisation.    A pulse polio immunisation campaign was carried out by Station MI Room, Birchgunj on 19 Feb 12 and 15 Apr 12 from 0800 hrs to 1200 hrs.

Blood Donation Camp.  A blood donation camp was organized at Central Medical Information Room in the Army Component on 10 Oct 11 and 13 Aug 12.  A large number of JCOs and Jawans donated blood, which has been handed over the Blood Bank, GB Pant Hospital, Port Blair.

Medical Camp at Campbell Bay.        Ships of the Indian Navy in coordination with  INS Baaz, the Naval Air Station  conducted a Medical Camp at Campbell Bay on 18 and 19 Sep 12.  Approximately 400 people benefited from the Medical Aid and advice provided at the camp. The camp also visited two primary schools for medical check up of children and screened a very valuable movie on AIDS for the general public.   The target audience was sensitised regarding basic hygiene and healthcare.   A few patients were also referred to G B Pant Hospital at Port Blair for review by specialists.   

Medical Camp At Campbell Bay

NSRY Celebrates Engineer’s Day With Students Of Dr BR Ambedkar Institue Of Technology.   Naval Ship Repair Yard commemorated the legendary engineer’s birth anniversary  with the students of Dr B R Ambedkar Institute of Technology, Pahargaon, Port Blair by organising a visit to the Yard’s repair facilities and Floating Dock Navy-1 on 14 Sep 12. The programme was a Andaman & Nicobar Command and Naval Ship Repair Yard initiative towards development of technical human resource pool in Andaman and Nicobar Islands by knowledge sharing.  The onsite interaction between the personnel and engineers of the Yard and the students on intricate aspects of ship repairs has proved to be extremely invigorating to the budding engineers.

CT Scan Machine inaugurated at INHS Dhanvantari.    A state of the art, 16-Slice spiral CT Scan machine was inaugurated by Lt Gen NC Marwah, PVSM, AVSM Commander-in-Chief, Andaman and Nicobar Command on 23 Aug 12 at INHS Dhanvantari. The function was attended by a host of senior Service officers and civilian dignitaries including Dr. SK Paul, Director Health Services.

The ultra modern CT Machine has multi detector capabilities and can virtually slice the body into 0.625 mm thick sections. With this machine even a lesion as small as 2 mm can be picked up with confidence.

CT Scan machine inaugurated by Lt Gen NC Marwah, PVSM, AVSM, Commander-in-Chief, Andaman and Nicobar Command

NWWA OUTREACH “SPARSH” REACHES OUT TO THE KIDS OF RAMKRISHNA  MISSION ON THE EVE ON INDEPENDENCE DAY. As part of Independence Day Celebrations, a day with the Indian Navy was organised on 15 Aug by the Navy Wives Welfare Association (NWWA) for children from Ramakrishna Mission Welfare Home. The programmes commenced with a visit and walk around 06 Indian Naval Ship.  The highlight of the day was a Harbour Cruise for the children onboard Yard Craft Manoram.

Children Of Ramakrishna Mission On Harbour Cruise

ARMY COMPONENT HOSTS LUNCH AT THE FERRARGUNJ OLD AGE HOME.  On the occasion of the 66th Independence Day a lunch was organized for the residents of the Old Age Home at Ferrargunj by the Army Component of Andaman and Nicobar Command on 13 Aug 12.  The interaction with the residents of the old age home included lunch and was aimed at understanding and fostering a sense of responsibility and empathy for the elders and the needy. Gifts were distributed as a community service thus making the residents feel loved and wanted.

Old Age Home Elders At Ferrargunj

Currently as ANC celebrates here 12th Raising Day, two hydrographic ships INS Sandhyak and INS Darshak undertake hydrographic surveys, validating and updating marine charts, measuring tides.

The ANC thus continues to render yeoman service to the islands and her friendly people. The ANC remains Committed to every support whilst respecting the fragile nature of the unique eco-systems we are blessed with.


In the year 1924, Dr. H.I. Marshall, Principal of the Theological  Seminary Hill, Insein, Burma(Myanmar)visited U.S.A and on his return in 1925 to Burma he visited Andaman islands. His cousin Mr. Ferrar was the Chief Commissioner of Andaman and Nicobar islands. It was then that they discussed and planned of bringing some laborers to the islands for clearing up the forest for settlements and for that they wanted hardworking, honest and efficient people capable of doing hard core job. He asked Rev. Dr .H.I. Marshall who knew the Karens well to bring down some families to the islands under the settlement scheme. Mr. Ferrar placed some conditions for the people to be brought down i.e. they must be faithfull, landless and good cultivators. This good tidings was carried back to Burma (Myanmar) by Rev. Dr.  H. I. Marshall and was published in the Karen newspaper called “Hsah- Tu- Gaw” meaning “Morning Star’’. Mr. Ferrar also promised to give free ration for one year and free land for settlement and cultivation purpose. The land of course was covered with forest and for settlement they had to clear it. This good tidings spread out like a wild fire among the Karens in Burma (Myanmar). Responding to the news  Rev. Lugyi , Rev. Pan Bu and Rev. Samba decided to bring some families to the Andaman Islands to see the possibilities and the opportunities of settlement. In April 1925, the Karens landed at the Andaman Islands by a ship called Maharaja. The 12 families who agreed to come to the Andaman Islands were mostly landless and poverty stricken families. They are: 1) Saw U San Bwe and his family. 2)            Saw U Theh To Noe…’’. 3)                Saw U Po Tau…. “. 4) Saw U Tain Bout….”5).             Saw U Pho Byaw…”. 6) Saw U Mya Lain…”. 7) Saw U Gwa Doe….”. 8) Saw U Pho Tha….”. 9)       Saw U Pyaji….”. 10) Saw U Paan…”. 11) Saw U pho U….”. 12) Saw u ko ...”


The 12 families initially were put up at Carlo Island which the Karens called it as “Kalolo”, a few distance away from the present Mayabunder, North Andaman. They stayed there only for 10 days and later they were shifted to a place in the interior of Mayabunder and they called it “Webi village” meaning “the hidden city” because they believed that the thick jungles will always protect and keep them hidden from enemies and they could work peacefully. The Karens were given free rations for a year and they even got lands for settlement and cultivation purpose. Mr. Ferrar was pretty cordial and kind towards the Karens and provided their need accordingly. After having settled in their new found land, Mr. M.R. Smith, a forest officer (Divisional forest officer) gave them the opportunities to work in the forest as lumber man. Women and children were asked to stay and work within the vicinity of their home.

In 1926-27 again few more families were brought down to the Andaman Islands and were obliged with the same opportunities and facilities and they witnessed the Japanese invasion as well. Recounting their associations with the Japanese this is what they had to say:

Saw Jawsein (Joseph)


Music is a food to the soul and this man and his entire family are blessed with a talent to sing melodiously and they are known for their musical talents. At 94, he still holds good memories of his association with the British and the Japanese during the pre independence era… Joseph is pretty old and hardly able to walk, but his former days with the Japanese in the Andaman Islands are still fresh in his memory. He had a cordial relation with the Japanese and they even made him their interpreters, he even spoke their language and was asked to sing a Japanese song on New Year. Although he could not remember the meaning of the song anymore he is still able to sing in Japanese language. Ask him about the treatment towards Karens by the Japanese, he would smile and say “The Japanese were not rude with the Karens and no one was killed by the Japanese, may be because we look alike”. He supported the Japanese during the war between Japanese and the English, after the Japanese retrieval from the islands he worked as a spy for the British Government. Whenever the ship from Rangoon (Yangon) docked at Mayabunder, he would go up and inspect if the ship is carrying any dangerous goods.

“I would go up to the ship and tell the others if I scratch my ear it means there is something and they would come and inspect, most of the time it use to be drugs and they were seized”. After the British left the islands he worked as forest labourer for a year with a pay of Rs.25.

According to those who witnessed the Japanese invasion in the Andaman Islands, they were never ill-treated by the Japanese but had to oblige to the orders of the Japanese. There was a particular time during the Japanese invasion, the Karens had shortage of food and had to survive barely with a morsel of food that too boiling a handful of rice with leaves and stalks of colocasia. They used to get itching in the throat and they were starving, but the quality of a Karen is to have patience to endure any misfortune or challenges in any form. They witnessed the bombings and firings between the two parties and they would hide under the shades of the thick green forest while tending to the needs of the Japanese. Their villages were not attacked as the English knew their settlement and did not wish to harm them. Even the Japanese had told them to remain neutral and neither support any of the party. They told them to go and hide in their own village.


The word “Karen” was coined by the British. Burmese called them as “Kayin” meaning “polite and good hearted”, whereas the Karen called them “pwa- kanyaw”, which would literally mean “easy convincible people” hence they can put up with anything. Every week the Karen women had to take bags of rice and thatched leaves and hand it over to the Japanese. Since the Karens were minority and they were in a foreign land, they could not do anything but silently endure whatever came their way.

Thus the Karen settlement began to grow in numbers and spread out into 8 villages namely:

1) Webi village (hidden city) originally named by the Karens

2) Lataw village (in Karen leh Toh, meaning “Go Up”

3) Lucknow village (formerly called “Burmadera”- Burmese settlement area)

4) Deopur village (formerly called “Base-Camp”)

5)  Karmatang 9 village

6)  Karmatang 10 village

7)  Borang village

8) Chipo village

The last village i.e. ‘Chipo Village’ was founded by two brave women Machi and Popo, who on their quest for livelihood with a small dinghy rowing against the tide and storm reached this shore. They found it so adaptable that they decided to stay back. Later on they came back to the village and took some more families with them and thus “Chipo” was born and became another abode for the Karens. Honouring their bravery and quest the place was named after them. Sadly they are no more today but their great saga goes on.

With the Karens settlement in the Andaman Islands today their population has grown to 3000 plus. The present generation Karens are very much indebted to those who took the initiative in bringing down their forefathers to the islands and today the karens of Andaman islands are free from torture. They do not have to run helter and skelter from enemies and it is because of the wise decision taken by their forefathers.


The Karens call the Andaman Islands as “A land of paradise” because of the peaceful environment and peaceful co-existence, unlike their counterparts in Burma who are under constant threat and torture from the Burmese military junta. The Karens of Andaman Islands can peacefully go to bed and wake with a happy heart, whereas the Karens in Burma (Myanmar) are living a life of slave under the tyrant rule of the Burmese.

Although they are a minority in India yet they have not forgotten their culture and traditions. Karens in the Andaman Islands are mostly protestant Christian.  At present there are intermarriages with other communities in the Islands and some have converted to other religions too. Karens are by nature very artistic, they love music, dance and singing, they are experts at diving, trekking and fishing. They are also very good at sports and they love football.

Karens are also known for their beauty; Susan Ahluwalia (married to a Sikh- Naval officer) became the cover girl of the Femina magazine published in the year July 24th 1970 by ‘The Times Of India’ publication. She was born on 16th August 1947 in the Andaman Islands to a Karen mother and an Anglo-Jewish father (ex-serviceman of British India Army).


There are many young talented musicians, singers and artist in the community but the only thing that lacks is support sharpen and utilize the skills they posses. If given an opportunity these young talents could make the Islands proud and the nation at large.

Karens have adapted to the Islands with ease and they are contributing to the Islands development in some way or the other. Majority of the Karens are agriculturist and they earn their livelihood by fishing, and hunting. Very few of them are into the government services like Educational Department, Forest Department, Electricity Department, Police Department, Health Department and other private business and entrepreneurship.

Karens are socially and economically backward. Very few are well educated and are in a better position. For those who can afford education expenses manage to put their children in good schools. The rest are forced to attend government school and in the process many drop out half way. There are some who are brilliant in studies but because due to poverty cannot afford higher studies.

Karens are by nature peace loving, if you wrong a Karen once, twice or thrice he will forgive you but if you accuse him of something he has not done then the outcome is definitely a bad blow. Karens are close knit family and they stay together even after marriages. Both men and women are equally treated and there is no difference in status unlike other communities. They work together in field and household chores and carry with them their beautiful culture, tradition, customs and beliefs which they wish to pass on to their future generations. Among them are their colorful bamboo dance, ethnic dressing style, beautiful songs, mouth watering cuisines, folk dance, folk songs and stories.

Given that the Karens have been considered as Other Backward Classes (O.B.C) but holding an O.B.C certificate alone would not do any good to them unless some special reservations are made. As competitions get tougher; with the kind of poor background it becomes next to impossible for this community to stay abreast in the race. If left and ignored they might become silent sufferers and will not be able to come at par with the rest and gradually would be lost in their own promised land.

The Karens are already dominated by the fears of them losing their identity in the midst of this advancing world. They may be too naïve and shy to claim for their rights, but still in their hearts they wish for a change in their community.

Like every Indian, Karens too have a desire to be treated equally like the rest. They too wish to be heard and not ignored. Time has come to ask ourselves whether we are being fair towards the Karens?

Now that they are officially Indian citizens, isn’t it the responsibility of the Indian Government to take care of them and see them grow? 


Lichens, what are Lichens? These are the small round patches, slightly off colored green in the bark of trees in your backyard. They seem profuse in wet months and become dry patches during the summer.

Lichens are actually a combination of a fungal partner (mycobiont) and an algal partner (phycobiont). The fungal filaments surround and grow into the algal cells, and provide the majority of the lichen's physical bulk and shape.

Lichens can grow in soil, rock, or even the barks of trees.  It absorbs certain mineral nutrients from any of these substrates on which it grows, but is generally self-reliant in feeding itself through photosynthesis in the algal cells. Thus, lichens growing on trees do not feed on them like parasites on the trees.

Lichens are indicators of the health of an ecosystem in tropical regimes like our islands, the more the lichen load (in trees etc.,) the more robust is the nutrient cycle of that ecosystem. Several studies have shown serious impacts on the growth and health of lichens resulting from factory and urban air pollution. Because some lichens are so sensitive, they are now being used to quickly and cheaply assess levels of air toxins in Europe and North America.

Andaman & Nicobar Islands have a healthy ecosystem, when compared to other parts of our country. Lichens were seen even in the barks of road side trees of Port Blair city until recently. Though it still exists, of late it seems that Lichens are disappearing from the city limits. This is a matter of concern as they indicate the health of our eco system.

- Amlan Dutta, Ecologist


While just about everyone who’s anyone waxes eloquently about green movements and their love for trees, there’s little being done at grass-root level. Remember the tree which fell opposite Inox at Mumbai’s Nariman Point leaving a gaping hole in the pavement. After that happened, all was forgotten. A Right To Information application to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) garden department and tree authority had revealed that of the 26,039 trees felled from the period between April 2008 and March 2011, 14,877 were cut for ‘development’ while the rest 11,162 trees felled as they “obstructed traffic.”

Now, according to the Maharashtra (Urban Areas) Preservation of Trees Act, two trees must be planted for every tree cut or the uprooted tree must be transplanted. So, the 14,877 trees cut for ‘development’ should have been followed with replanting of 29,754 trees. According to data furbished by the BMC, only 5,604 trees have been planted from 2008 to 2010 and, experts maintain, not more than 5,000 were planted in the 2010-2011 period.

 For the trees felled for ‘obstructing traffic’, the BMC has – on its part - planted 22,037 trees. By the ‘must replant two as rule’ logic, if 26,039 trees were felled in the said period, 52,078 trees should have been planted in strict accordance with the Act.

There are a few loopholes and snags which need to be resolved in order to ensure the purpose of the Act is fulfilled in principle and practice. Like, at the time of handing over the occupation certificate, a thorough inspection of the developed site does not occur. This should be preceded by a strict survey by the Tree Authority and the garden department authorities which must ensure the requisite numbers of trees are replanted by the developer.

Also, that the developers don’t quite maintain the trees planted in place of those felled is evident in the fact that the deposit of Rs 2,000 - as laid down by the Act, for each tree cut to be refunded only if the tree planted in place grows satisfactorily – is not claimed at all. This indicates developers aren’t planting the trees being felled in the name of ‘development.’

New York, incidentally, despite having more high-rises than Mumbai, has an average of five trees per person. Back home, in 2009, over 2,000 trees were ‘required’ to be felled for the Middle Vaitarna Dam project and there was a proposal to cut 111 trees for the Mahatma Gandhi swimming pool in Mahim also, 1,000-odd trees had to be felled for the Bhandup Water Complex.

In the name of development, roads are widened to accommodate parking and sidewalks / pavements reduced as “very few pedestrians anyway use them,” leading to existing trees barely being able to hold on and…eventually die! There is a proposal to cut down two rain trees outside the Catering College at Dadar because they were a ‘nuisance,’ and ‘caused accidents’. This, despite the fact that the trees have been standing there for nearly a century and there was no report of anyone crashing into those trees.

A sea of residents opposed the proposal and High Court intervened ensuring the trees were not felled. Sadly, in the name of making the city green, a lot of cooperative housing societies and landlords ‘create’ green spaces where there exist none in development plans only to boost their realty prospects. The presence of a slum near a residential structure has direct relevance to the selling price affecting it adversely. Concurrently, the presence of a ‘garden’ or a green patch provides the prerequisite boost to sellers who can pitch for a bit more.

However, in green spaces created for vested interests, there’s little by way of initiative in ensuring they are maintained well.

CITY REGISTERS TREE FALLS EVERY YEAR It’s during monsoons that hit Mumbai when most of the trees buckle under the onslaught of rains, some breaking, others getting completely uprooted.

Following the first showers, traffic moves at snail’space dodging branches and trunks that swoop precariously weighed by the rainfall, onto the city’s roads. “It’s sad that the authorities never foresee this well in advance,” says Mumbai-based Charni Road resident and environmentalist KabirKartik. “When they go about pruning trees branches throughout the year around anticipating rains and subsequent tree-falls, they presume that they’ve solved the issue and trees won’t fall but they always,” he says.

But, as history has it, the first week of rainfall in Mumbai fetches umpteen tree-falls, subsequent commuting issues for vehicle owners and traffic-jams. What makes matters worse it the inbuilt risk of a tree falling on a moving vehicle or an unassuming pedestrian. Not that it deters the civic authorities in any manner. Year after year, dozens of trees buckle under the onslaught of heavy rains and gusty winds that accompany showers. Like B.Com student Devyani Mehta who studies in a Churchgate-based college, there’re scores of unwary pedestrians and two-wheeler riders who’re caught completely off-guard when a tree, among the rows interlining lanes, cracks and falls bang in the middle of the road.

ChandrakantHalkar’s six-month-old Toyota was smashed by a tree that collapsed on it while it was parked near Electric House during last year’s downpour. “After having driven it so carefully on road during the first rains, considering it gets so slippery and dangerous, it was the last straw for me when a tree fell on it while it was parked!” says an astounded Halkar. “The hood of the car is smashed even its windshield shattered with the impact,” rues Halkar.

 “Our college street, interlined with tall trees looks beautiful but once it rains, the entire scenario changes,” says a South Mumbai Jai Hind College student. “Trees that fall in the middle of the road following the first rains usually create a huge traffic issue for vehicle-owners who’re either pushing their two-wheelers through the branches or driving through them in their cars while avoiding pedestrians too,” she says. While NGOs and resident societies go gung-ho over turning Mumbai into a cleaner, greener place, it’s imperative to ensure that the trees planted don’t get out of shape and are maintained well. The surging number of trees that fall during the monsoons only indicates the fact that there is absolutely no upkeep for the trees once they are planted.

The onus of their upkeep rests on the civic authorities as well as societies / residents planting the trees. Nobody is held responsible for the fall of a tree during monsons or otherwise. Till then, the onus lies on the Tree Authority.

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In olden days, the area or land used for agriculture was high and the population it feed was less. Our forefathers used only the 'muck' as fertilizers and have enjoyed a healthy life by consuming a healthy food of quality and quantity. Muck is nothing but the moist farmyard dung or soil containing decaying plants, vegetables etc. or manure. Those days there were no fertilizers, pesticides, growth inducers or promoters to avoid pests or to increase the crop yield. Though, we have to accept the truth that our previous generations were healthy than what we are now, after modern science and technologies with introduction of new chemicals to kill insect pests and promoters for fast crop growths. The present system of agriculture has achieved an increased yield compared to older farming practices. But, the chemicals that we use for the crops not only affect the health of consumers (we) but also destroys the nature of the soil forever. Sometimes, over use of pesticides poison the land and nothing else will grow thereafter. So, what we can do to avoid this chemical accumulation in soil ? 1. Analyse your soil nutrients that is of less cost, so you will come to know which nutrient is deficient in your soil. 2. Do not go for repeated cultivation of same crops. For example., If you cultivate paddy in your field, once you harvest, sow some cereals and other pulses that are nitrogen-fixing crops. Crop rotation is the replenishment of nitrogen through the use of green manure and will improve your soil structure and fertility of the soil. 3. Go for organic methods of soil enrichment such as muck-spreading. They are actually cheap than any other growth promoters available in the form of chemicals in market. It even have the power to rejuvenate the soils destroyed by chemical intensive agricultural practices. 4. A recent and widely used method in organic farming is the soil re-mineralisation using finely crushed rocks (rock dust) that contain minerals and trace elements. The rock dusts are rich in silicon, potassium, sulfur, manganese, phosphorus, zinc, calcium, copper, cobalt and other necessary elements for soil enrichment and crop growth. Appropriate use of these methods will certainly give fruitful results in quality crop production as well save our earth from chemical pollutants. 

Contributed by: Dr. J. Benjamin Franklin, Scientist, NIOT, Port Blair.