Car Nicobar is the headquarters of Nicobar District. It is a flat fertile island covered with cluster of coconut palms and enchanting beaches with a roaring sea all around. The Nicobari huts, built on stilts having entrance through floor with a wooden, ladder, are unique to this island. 16 hrs. journey by sea from Port Blair.
The Andaman & Nicobar Islands lying between 92 o to 94 o East and 6 o to 14 o North latitude cover an area of 8249 Sq. Kms. These 572 Islands. Islets and rocks can be divided into the Andaman (Northern) & the Nicobar (Southern) groups. The highest peak in the Andaman Group is Saddle Peak at 732 mtrs. and Mount Thullier at 642 mtrs. is the highest point in the Nicobar Group.
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands were shrouded in mystery for centuries because of their inaccessibility. They are a paragon of beauty and present a landscape full with scenic and picturesque extravaganza. These islands shimmer like Emeralds in the Bay of Bengal. The dense forests which cover these islands and the innumerable exotic flowers and birds create a highly poetic and romantic atmosphere.
The Islands have a great maritime importance. During the British period political leaders considered dangerous to the interest of the Raj and other dreaded criminals were deported from the mainland to the Cellular Jail - the Indian Bastille, situated on the sea coast of Port Blair at Atlanta Point in the North Eastern part of the settlement. These islands were infamously known as the 'Black Water Prison' or 'Kala Pani'.
The Islands are a group of picturesque islands, big and small, inhabited and uninhabited, a total of 572 islands, islets, lying in an arch in a long narrow broken chain, approximately covering 900 Kms. It is logical to presume a former land connection from Cape Negris in the Southern part of Burma to theAchin Head (Cape Pedro) in Andalas (Sumatra). The flora and fauna of these islands however indicate that this land connection if it existed, should have been prior to the development of their present life form.
The topography of the islands is hilly and abounds in evergreen forests. The sandy beaches on the edge of a 1900 Km meandering coastline are fringed with coconut palms that sway to the rhythm of the sea. The sea around the islands offers excellent scope for water sports. The flora and fauna, under-water marine life and corals, with crystal clear water and mangrove-lined creeks, offer a dream view of the rare gifts of nature. Adventure tourism like scuba diving, trekking, island camping, snorkeling are the prominent attractions. A visit to these islands is an enchanting experience.
With 92% of its area under forest cover the Islands have a population of 3.56 lakhs concentrated in 8% of the area i.e 660 Sq. Kms. The Islands have a density of 43 persons per Sq. Km. There is only one urban area, of 16.6 per Sqm Kms (Port Blair town and its environs), which caters to a population of 1,16,407 persons. The Islands are administratively divided into two districts-the Andamans District & the Nicobars District with a population of 3,14,239 and 42,026 respectively.
The policy of the government after independence was to inhabit these islands and to this purpose refugees from the erstwhile East Pakistan were settled here. This policy continued till the mid-seventies and led to a very high population increase over the decades. In the decades ending 1971 the decadal growth rate of the islands was over 80%, which has subsequently been brought down to 26.94%. As compared to the All India decadal growth rate the Islands' growth is slightly on the higher side but concerted efforts are on to control it.
The total birth rate in the islands is 17.81 while the death rate is 3.46 per 1000 population. The infant death rate is only 17.33 per 1000 live births Amazingly, the birth rates and the death rates in the rural areas are much lower than those in the urban areas. The sex ratio in the islands has always been lop-sided, due to selective in-migration of males and the islands have recorded a low sex ratio of 846 females per 1000 males.
The area under forest equals 7171 sq. km of which 2929 sq km is reserved forest and 4242 sq km is protected forest. No timber was extracted as per the orders of the Hon'ble Supreme court. However the Forest Department earned a revenue of Rs 7.85 crores during the year 2002-2003.
A total of 5 ships ply in the mainland island sectors, while 21 ships in the Inter-island sector, 6 vessels in the foreshore sector and 26 vessels in the harbour ferry sector are the lifeline of these islands. The recently introduced Pawan Hans Helicopter Services are a vital link in day-to-day life and emergencies in the islands. At present it connects six islands with Port Blair. Of these 3 islands are in the Southern group. Three more islands in the Northern group are planned to be started. The Islands have helipads in 30 islands, which can be used during emergencies.
A severe earthquake was felt in Andaman and Nicobar Islands having epicentre at 3.7N and 95E off the island of Sumatra between 0630 to 0635 hrs in the morning on 26th December, 2004. The quake was followed by a few tremors subsequently also. Due to the high level of awareness amongst public, most of the people took precautions like coming out of the building and going to safe places immediately.
The severe earthquake was followed by high tidal waves which caused extensive damages in Port Blair harbour; Jetties at Aberdeen, Phoenix Bay, Junglighat and Haddo were flooded by tidal waters. Two boats sunk at the jetty before any measures could be taken. The employees of the Port Management Board, Directorate of Shipping Services, Andaman Harbour Works etc. swung into action immediately and evacuated the ships berthed at the jetties to anchorage to prevent damage. Nevertheless the Marine Dockyards were extensively damaged and four ships which were under servicing tilted and damaged extensively.
Soon after the incident in the morning, Lt. Governor, Member of Parliament, Chairpersons of Zilla Parishad and Port Blair Municipal Council and senior officers of the Administration went around Port Blair to assess the damage. A crisis management meeting was held at 1130 hours at Raj Niwas and action points were drawn up to deal with the emergency on war-footing. Lt. Governor, Member of Parliament, Commander-in-Chief of A&N Command visited Car Nicobar by Coast Guard aircraft in the afternoon and returned by 7.00 PM. 28 dead bodies were found around the Airport at Car Nicobar during their visit. The extent of damage, loss of life and property in Car Nicobar was unprecedented.
Major damage was done to the IAF base in Car Nicobar by the huge Tsunami waves following Seismic movement off the coast of Greater Nicobar Island. The communication system in this area was completely destroyed and the only mode of communication was satellite phone.
Three days after the killer tsunami struck the situation in the Andaman and Nicobar Island was grim, with 10,000 people, half the population of Car Nicobar, missing. "Car Nicabar has a population of 20,000 and half of them are missing," Lt Governor Ram Tapase told newsmen. "Missing, however, does not mean that all of them are dead. We hope that many of them may come back. So far the body count is 309 from all over the islands," he said. AN32 aircraft were making sorties to Car Nicobar and Campbell Bay carrying food and drinking water and also evacuating people.
A helicopter unit of the IAF was based in Car Nicobar. The entire Air Force base in Car Nicobar island has been virtually washed away by Tsunami waves with 23 air force personnel and their family members being killed. The Indian Air Force evacuated 900 personnel and their family members who surrvived the killer tsunamis that struck Car Nicobar island on December 26. They were brought to Tambaram Air Force base in Tamil Nadu.
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