Online tickets to Andaman and Nicobar islands back amid project row
On May 21, Hindustan Times reported there were restrictions on non-islanders traveling to Great Nicobar.
Authorities resumed online bookings for passenger vessels heading to Campbell Bay in Great Nicobar, days after the Andaman and Nicobar administration announced that such bookings could only be made in person at counters while residents and activists said entry of outsiders to the island had been restricted.
Campbell Bay’s surrounding areas are home to a large number of tribal communities who were resettled following the 2004 tsunami that destroyed their homes – these communities are at the centre of a controversy surrounding a project in Great Nicobar, which many now oppose.
The directorate of Shipping Services, Andaman and Nicobar Administration, tweeted on Wednesday that tickets to Campbell Bay bound passenger vessels can be availed through STARS e-ticketing portal from Thursday 9 am onwards.
HT reported on May 21 that there were restrictions on non-islanders traveling to Great Nicobar.
The restriction on non-islanders, according to activists and residents, was imposed to curb criticism against the ₹72,000 crore project of the government think tank Niti Aayog called the Holistic Development of Great Nicobar Island. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands administration is concerned about outsiders influencing the views of indigenous people living there about the project, they said.
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On April 17, the administration issued a press note stating that tickets to Campbell Bay will only be issued through offline mode only due to administrative reasons.
“Only those with islander passes, which is proof that they are residents of Campbell Bay, can enter the village or enter Great Nicobar by air or ships,” a member of the elected panchayat (village council) of Great Nicobar said over the phone on condition of anonymity last week. “Campbell Bay is not a tribal area and entry of non-islanders was permitted here before. It’s only been imposed in the past couple of months.”
The local administration, however, had said access to Great Nicobar Island is permitted, but visit to tribal areas requires pass as per regulations. HT had sent queries to the chief secretary’s office last Friday. An assistant commissioner responded by saying: “...Travel to Nicobar is permitted. Further, visit to tribal area requires pass as per The Andaman and Nicobar Islands (Protection of Aboriginal Tribes) Regulation.”