Kalam On The A&N Islands

Former President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam today unveiled a vision document for the strategic development of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands by the year 2020. Inaugurating a national seminar on 'Security and Development of the Andaman and Nicobar islands' in Port Blair, he said a 250 MW dedicated nuclear power station on one of the islands would form the core of the development programme for the archipelago.

Dr Kalam said A&N islands being a vital part of the country's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), the Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC) of the Integrated Defence Staff (IDS) would have "enhanced significance" in the next decade. The ANC should have bases for static aircraft carrier and a nuclear submarine based fleet, he remarked. Dr Kalam called upon the Armed Forces to evolve an effective security plan for underneath the sea, at sea level and in air. "The security plan which you evolve should ensure that there is no unauthorized occupation of the vacant islands," he added.

Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar, Commander-in-Chief of the ANC, said the location of these islands confers a geostrategic advantage. "Its economic and forest potential dictates a sound security presence," he added.

The two-day seminar is being attended by top defence and security experts including Shri Shekhar Dutt, Deputy National Security Advisor, Shri Shyam Saran, former Foreign Secretary and Shri R Chidambaram, Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of India. The national seminar has been organised by the ANC. Raised as India's first Integrated Command, the ANC has a unique responsibility in promoting India's 'Look East' policy.

The Andaman and Nicobar group of islands straddle the strategic seaway leading to the Malacca straits. The A & N Islands are separated from the mainland by more than 1,000 kms but are placed at close proximity to a number of littoral states in the Bay of Bengal and stretching to the Indian Ocean. The archipelago comprises 572 small and big islands, of which only 36 are inhabited. The islands, which comprise 30 percent of the country's EEZ, have a potential reserve of Oil and Natural Gas besides being a great resource of marine life.

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