World as we all know is a big place with so many secret places hiding in plane sight. Leave the world aside. Let’s talk about India, your home country. How much do you know about it? What secrets it’s hiding? Today, we will take a look at one of such secrets of this great country that you probably didn’t know. “Assumption Island”
Doesn’t rings any bell, right? What if I told you this island is one of India’s own, well sort of. It is on lease by the Seychelles Government to Republic of India. A plot of land for India to build its first naval base in the Indian Ocean region has been allocated by the Seychelles government in the Assumption Island.
Why is it so important?
Well for a lot of reasons actually. The growing China’s influence in Indian Ocean is one of the main reason. The project has acquired significance following China acquiring its first African naval base in Djibouti in November 2015.
Once ready, the naval base to be built by the defence forces of India, and Seychelles will help India exercise greater control over the Indian Ocean’s western region all the way to the piracy-prone eastern African coastline.
The base will be one of the major staging posts for a large maritime security network that India is setting up with the help of the various Indian Ocean region partner countries.
Apart from the naval base, India acquired fully operational coastal radar system (CRS) based in Seychelles in March 2016, Mr. Michel (President Of Seychelles) said the CRS will provide India with the ability to gather intelligence and assist in surveillance operations of the vital energy lanes near Seychelles.
Five months after leasing Assumption Island, one of the 115 islands that constitute Seychelles, India begin preparations for infrastructure development, including quarters for the Seychelles Coast Guard and fixing the airstrip on the remote island where there is very little human activity.
Also Read | All You Need To Know About Gorkhaland Crisis
Let’s have a look at Assumption Island
Assumption Island is a small island in the Outer Islands of Seychelles north of Madagascar, with a distance of 1,135 km (705 mi) southwest of the capital, Victoria, on Mahé Island. Assumption Island was discovered by Captain Nicolas Morphey on 14 August 1756, and was named after the religious feast of the next day.
In 1908, the island was leased to Mr H. Savy of Mahé, who built a coconut plantation on the island. The first settlement was in the northern part of the island. During a visit 2 years later, he realized the guano potential of the island. The villagers transferred their labor force to guano mining camp, that operated until 1983. The camp was the location of the current village. After that, the villagers were employed as fishermen, usually of bêche-de-mer, until it was declared protected.
In the mid 1960s the island was proposed as an American military base, including a deep sea port. After strong protests from environmental organizations, this plan was rejected. In 1990 The airfield was built. In 2015, India leased the island from the Seychelles. Now India has a military base on the island, and most of the population is composed of military personnel and supporting contractors.
It includes both an air and naval base and is located 3,915 km (2,433 mi) south-southwest of the southern tip of India (at Kanyakumari) is their first establishment on Seychelles and is a flexible forward hub that can facilitate a range of regional strategies. Local time is UTC+05:30 as is in India year-round (DST is not observed).
To the Indian government, Assumption Island was a prime territory for setting up a foreign military base. It is located far away from any potential threats, and is nearly uninhabited. The 7 villagers were given an option to stay on the island with restrictions or to be transferred to Astove Island, where the Indian government built 2 residential houses as per their agreement with Seychelles. By 2018, construction of all of the military buildings should be completed.
Steps like these will help India to expand it’s influence in Indian ocean and also will help to counter threat and gather intelligence.
On 27th January 2018, India and Seychelles signed an agreement which will allow India to build a naval base on Assumption Island.
Update: As of 17th June, 2018; a report suggested, Seychelles President Danny Faure called off the military base project with India stating they will build the coast guard facility themselves, New Delhi is seeking explanation on the same.
Share Your Views In The Comments Below.