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Tourism
India to develop 700 islands as tourism destination
28-03-2015

DELHI: Many of the over 700 uninhabited islands across India will be developed for tourism, filmmaking, entertainment activities, as honeymoon destinations, maritime security and also for generating non-conventional energy - both wind and solar.

This scheme will be part of the ambitious Sagarmala project. The Cabinet on Wednesday approved the concept note and institutional framework to implement this massive project that Narendra Modi government has revived. The Sagarmala concept was first mooted by Atal Bihari Vajpayee during his last tenure.

“We have a total of 1,208 islands including the uninhabited ones and there are 185 lighthouses. These will be developed as hub of tourist activity. We will carry out a feasibility study,” shipping minister Nitin Gadkari said.

However, sources said that before coming out with any such plan, the government would have to consider the environmental impact, rich and fragile ecology of those islands and in some cases the adverse impact on the vulnerable tribal populations living in the nearby islands.

Shipping ministry officials said the plan to develop these islands, particularly the uninhabited ones, came up keeping in mind the need to protect these islands from any unauthorized occupation and for security reasons. In fact, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had suggested the shipping ministry to look into the concept of such "out islands" when he was taking a review meeting on infrastructure projects on December 19.

On Friday, Gadkari also said that at least 12 smart cities and several coastal economic zones (CEZs) will come up under the ambitious Sagarmala project. The smart cities will have affordable housing, wind and solar power and green industry. He added a national perspective plan (NPP) for the entire coastline will be prepared within six months to identify potential CEZs. Fund required in 2015-16 for implementation of projects in the initial phase of Sagarmala is pegged at Rs 692 crore.

While preparing the NPP, synergy and integration with planned industrial corridors, dedicated freight corridors, National Highway Development Programme, industrial clusters and SEZs would be ensured, Gadkari said.