Monday, 15 May 2017

A visit to Tillangchong Island

             26th April 2017, will be a memorable day for a long time. On this day, I, accompanied by Asstt. Commissioner, Nancowery, Sh. Nishant Bodh and SHO Nancowery, Sh. M.Sarvanan made an unforgettable journey to Tillangchong Island. We started early, before the day break, and it took us nearly two hours to reach one of the loneliest islands of India, Tillangchong, where pit vipers, salt water crocodiles and elusive megapods give company to our policemen, who braving all adversities, guard this remote Look Out Post.
After exiting the safe waters of Kamorta harbour, FIB Sanjeev cruised at over a speed of 30 knots in a placid morning sea. As the boat chugged along, the silhouette of Tillangchong started to take shape and eventually give way to and reveal the beauty of this island A minor technical glitch in the FIB, caused by a human error, near the island, took us an additional half an hour to reach the destination. On reaching closer to the island, FIB’s pace was broken by the Master, who had been paying all his attention to the deft manoeuvring of the boat in shallow waters strewn with treacherous rocks. A Gemini boat was launched from the sea shore to receive us on the final leg of the journey. Near the shore, we landed on a wooden jetty, a marvellous piece of collective human endeavour and initiative, put together by the policemen of IRBn and civil police under the able leadership of SHO Nancowery. SI Vineet Maurya,in-charge of the LOP, gave us a hearty welcome. India, written in bold, on the signboard of the LOP loudly pointed to the remoteness of this place from the mainland.
Tillangchong gets its name, as attributed by Col. Gerini, from Tswe-Lan-Chan (island of blue waters), as it used to be called by the Chinese sailors. Tillangchong is prominently spread along the longitude as is evident from its length and breadth of 16.5km and 2km respectively. Owing to its volcanic origin, it has a rugged hilly terrain and Maharani, sitting at 244m, is its highest point. Tillangchong is an uninhabited island for most parts of the year. However, there are some coconut plantations belonging to the Nicobari people of Kakana village, Kamorta, who come here in their engine dinghies and hodis ( outrigger-canoe), generally between October-April, when the waters are relatively calmer.
After taking the Guard of Honour, I did an inspection of the LOP and also took a walk around the mysteriously enchanting neighbourhood. Tillangchong is a wildlife sanctuary and has very rich flora and fauna, a lot of which is, however, lying unexplored. Saltwater crocodiles known for their aggressive behaviour are found in the numerous nallahs and creeks around the island. Some researchers believe that the highest population of Megapode, a vulnerable bird that happens to be the state bird of A&N Islands, is present on this island. Apart from these, many endemic birds such as Nicobar Sparrowhawk, Andaman Wood Pigeon, and Nicobar Parakeet are also found here. In the recent past, there have been cases when the Policemen and forest workers were bitten by pit vipers, present in abundance on this island.
There’s a spring near the sea shore that acts as a regular source of drinking water. Although its yield declines significantly in the summers, even so, it acts as a lifeline for the people of this island. While coming back to the LOP we took the path through the forest as high tide water ruled out the option to take the beach route. By the time we reached the camp, a delicious breakfast of poori and chatpati(spicy curry of chickpeas) was ready and it was served in a gazebo overlooking the sea. Life can be very difficult and lonely on this island, therefore the policemen find succour in sports. Before leaving the island, I, too, played a game of volleyball with the staff. I was highly impressed by the way LOP is being maintained and I saw that despite the acute shortage of resources, all these brave policemen exuded was solid earnestness and overflowing enthusiasm.
                In Nicobar, you don’t just see the nature, you get immersed in it. The songs of waves, the touch of cool breeze, the scent of wet shores, the lush green canopy of vegetation, the azure shade of sea waters, the vibrant blue cloud-studded skies and the sweet taste of coconut water are some of the nature’s bounties that leave one spellbound as one’s senses get overwhelmed by them. I considered myself truly lucky to be posted in a district where I not only derive professional satisfaction through work but also have ample opportunities to quench the thirst of my mind and soul.