Lt. Governor Stresses on Realistic Timeline to Achieve Target

Port Blair, July 9: As the deadline fixed for executing the Alternate Sea Route to Baratang i.e. March 2015 approaches fast, the Andaman & Nicobar Administration seemed contented with the delayed progress shifting the burden on the Central Government.

Answering a question raised on the progress of the Alternate Route, the Secretary Tribal Welfare and Shipping Mr. G. Theva Neethi Dhas said that the Alternate Sea Route is a commitment of the Central Government and is a Central Government’s Policy Statement. This was stated during the press conference of the Hon’ble Lt. Governor, Lt. Gen. (Retd) A.K. Singh at Megapode Nest Resort on 7th July 2014.

Dhas further said that the Jarawa Policy of 2004 specifically says that there should be a supplementary route, in the interest of the Jarawa, in order to reduce tourist traffic on the Andaman Trunk Road (ATR). He said that the DPR has been prepared and studies conducted and the project is a priority for the Tribal Welfare department.

Meanwhile the Lt. Governor, Lt. Gen (Retd) A.K. Singh has cleared that he is not satisfied with the progress made on the Alternate Sea Route project.  He also seemed not to be satisfied by the answer given by his Administration stating that “It’s a theoretical answer”.  

“We have to push it as no one will push it at the Central Govt. level. This is what I believe”, General A.K. Singh said adding that it is a non issue for the Central Government and we have to become the catalyst.

The Lt. Governor thus directed the Department concerned to put the project on a faster target. “At least let’s work out some realistic timeline on when this will happen”, he instructed.

The LG also said that the Administration is fully committed for ensuring the welfare of the tribes including the Jarawa. “There should not be any doubt on this”.

“Whether the road comes or bridges made, we will ensure the welfare of the Jarawa tribes. I have discussed this with the Hon’ble Member of Parliament and he is also of the same view”, the Lt. Governor said.

At the same time, the LG revealing the real picture, made it clear that the Administration is running short of ships. “Even if the Alternate Sea Route is accomplished there are no boats to spare for the route”, he said.

There are 84 ships with the Directorate of Shipping Service and when the Lt. Governor took over, the serviceability of the ships was mere 40%. It was upon his initiative and instructions that the serviceability was increased to 52% and the LG hopes that it would be further increased to 60% soon.

Lt. Gen. (Retd) A.K. Sing also cleared that the ships that were to be ordered ten years ago were never ordered. It is now that the Administration is finalizing the tendering process, he added.