News-CRUX-10     16th April 2024        
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Context: Recently, the evolution of India's Look East policy to an Act East policy, coupled with heightened awareness of maritime power and advancements in the Chinese PLA Navy, underscores the urgency of developing Indian island territories, especially the Andaman and Nicobar group.

Strategic Importance of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands

  • Geopolitical Proximity: The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are positioned 700 nautical miles southeast of the Indian mainland, strategically located near major maritime routes.
  • Control over Strategic Waterways: Located close to the Malacca Strait, a crucial waterway connecting the Indian Ocean to the Pacific, the islands offer control over this vital maritime passage.
  • Influence over Regional Dynamics: Proximity to Sabang in Indonesia and Coco Island in Myanmar provides strategic leverage in regional geopolitics, particularly in Southeast Asia.
  • Potential Impact of Infrastructure Projects: The proposed Kra Canal by Thailand, if constructed, could significantly alter regional dynamics, positioning the islands as a key hub in the new maritime route.
  • Maritime Boundary Advantage: The islands' position enables India to assert control over maritime boundaries, sharing borders with Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia, and Bangladesh, thereby enhancing its maritime security.
  • Expanded Maritime Jurisdiction: By extending India's exclusive economic zone and continental shelf under UNCLOS, the islands offer substantial ocean space, further consolidating India's maritime influence.

Steps that needs to be taken

  • Establish airfields with long runways for Boeing 737-sized aircraft to monitor and patrol the vast sea area spanning the islands.
  • Construct ports and fuel storages in both northern and southern island groups to facilitate operational turnaround for ships.
  • Increase military presence and deploy appropriate assets at the Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC) to ensure island security.
  • Expedite the development of the Galathea Bay transhipment port and maritime services for international and Indian shipping.
  • Develop road networks, high-speed inter-island ferry services, and a seaplane terminal to improve connectivity within the islands.

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