India to fund $165m cable to Andaman Islands

India to fund $165m cable to Andaman Islands

The Indian government is to pay for a subsea cable from the mainland to the Andaman islands, an isolated group of several hundred islands in the Bay of Bengal.

The cable will run from the city of Chennai to Port Blair, the capital of the island group, and to five nearby islands.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his cabinet have approved the project, which is expected to cost 11 billion rupees ($165 million) and is likely to be completed by December 2018. The sum includes operating expenses for five years, said the prime minister’s office.

The decision was taken as part of a project for the development of the islands, which are seen to have potential for tourism.

The prime minister’s office said the cable will “equip Andaman & Nicobar Islands with appropriate bandwidth and telecom connectivity for implementation of e-governance initiatives; establishment of enterprises and e-commerce facilities”.

The office added: “It will also enable the provision of adequate support to educational institutes for knowledge sharing, availability of job opportunities and fulfil the vision of Digital India.”

The islands, which have a population of only 340,000, are connected to India and the rest of the world only by satellite, with limited bandwidth.

The islands to be connected to Port Blair and Chennai are Little Andaman, Car Nicobar, Havelock, Kamorta and Great Nicobar.

“Provision of secure, reliable, robust, and affordable telecom facilities in these islands is of importance from a strategic point of view to the country and also an important requirement for the socio-economic development of the islands,” said Modi’s office.

The Indian government has so far given no information about which companies would be involved in the construction.

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