New Delhi: With the Environment Ministry red-flagging a naval missile firing range in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the Defence Ministry on Thursday said it will find an alternative place to develop its testing site.

The proposal to develop the missile firing range has been turned down to protect the habitat of endangered bird Nicobar Megapode, which is found only in that region.

"I was in Port Blair along with all officials on Wednesday and had detailed discussions there. In that particular area, there is a rare species of bird. Our decision is to find an alternative place," Defence Minister A K Antony told reporters here.

The Minister was asked about the red-flagging of the Navy missile firing range project in Tillanchong Island in Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

"The habitat of the Megapode should not be disturbed and the missile firing range should not come up in that area," Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan had said, adding that the bird is not found anywhere else and it is a very unique species. The Navy had earlier said it will re-approach the MoEF as the range was very important from the security point of view.

On the issue of an alternative site, Navy chief Admiral D K Joshi had said environmental clearance will be required for that site too since it is also located in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.


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