Prime Minister Narendra Modi today inaugurated a 2,312 km long submarine optic fibre cable linking Chennai and Port Blair in Andaman and Nicobar, which is expected to radically improve mobile and landline telecom services and make broadband speed 10 times faster than it was in the islands.
The project - said to be first-of-its-kind in the country - was kicked off in December 2018 and is expected to give tourism, business, e-commerce and digital education a boost in the union territory, which is also a strategically important frontier in the Bay of Bengal.
"An early independence day gift to Andaman and Nicobar Islands," the Prime Minister said in the video inauguration of the facility, calling it a "big day" for the union territory, a popular tourist destination.
"A pandemic such as coronavirus was not able to hinder our speed and the work was completed before time. It was the responsibility of the nation to provide people of Andaman and Nicobar with connectivity. This is an early gift for the people of Andaman & Nicobar ahead of Independence Day, " PM Modi said.
Call drops have been frequent in the islands in the past and connectivity speeds have been low and unreliable. A dozen islands will benefit from the submarine OFC.
There are about 572 islands in the Andaman and Nicobar chain of which 36 are inhabited.
"Laying 2,300 km cable under sea and that too, before schedule, while also maintaining the quality of cable is a commendable job. This is not an easy project," the Prime Minister said.
"In 12 islands of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, high-impact projects are being expanded. A major issue of mobile and internet connectivity has been solved today, and we're working towards solving road, air and water connectivity. Better internet connectivity is one of the first needs of any tourism hub. This problem has now been solved," he added.
The project has been implemented at a cost of Rs 1,224 crore, news agency PTI reported. According to official data, internet with speed of 400 gigabyte (Gb) per second will be provided at Port Blair and for other islands it will be 200 Gb per second.
"Tourists will now be in no rush to return and thus, they will enjoy the sea-food and the islands. This will help tourism and employment in the region," PM Modi stressed while dedicating the project to the nation, adding that the project is an "evidence" of the government's "commitment to ease of living".
"The Indian Ocean has been the centre of India's trade and strategic prowess for thousands of years. Now that India is following the new policy and practice of trade and cooperation in Indo-Pacific, the importance of our islands including Andaman and Nicobar has increased further. Under the Act-East policy, Andaman and Nicobar's role in India's strong relations with East Asian countries and other countries associated with the sea is crucial and it is going to increase," PM Modi underlined during the video address.
The government is also working on a Rs 10,000 crore trans-shipment port project, expected to be completed in the next four-five years, he mentioned.
All the modern infrastructure that is being developed in Andaman Nicobar is a key aspect for blue economy, PM Modi said, adding: "A major part of blue economy is fisheries, aqua culture and sea-weed farming. Several countries are exploring the possibilities of sea-weed farming today."