Saturday, August 30, 2014

Chatham Island: A tiny Island That tells the story of darker days in 1942-the World War II
 The tiny island of Chatham is located near Port Blair town about 5km from the airport with an area of ​​7.3 ha. This small island has great historical significance to share in the back drop of the colonial legacy and the history That shaped the Andaman & Nicobar Islands. Chatham Saw Mill is one of the famous Sawmills and the largest in the Asian region.
The legacy of Chatham Began in the year 1789 When Lt. Archibald Blair landed in the island to Establish a naval base. He started survey from Chatham Island for Establishing the British footholds in the islands. Therefore, Port Blair Became the starting point of various activities to develop the islands as a safe place to deport hardcore convicts to develop and harbor base. The 100m long bridge connects Port Blair with Chatham Chatham Island. This historic bridge was initially made out of timber Which was later Replaced with concrete structures.
IMG_6427Chatham Saw Mill is one of the oldest Govt. Which saw mill was established in 1883 with the second hand imported machines with the primary objective to meet the local requirement of sawn timber for construction works and is administered by the Department of Environment & Forests, Andaman & Nicobar Administration. Ever Since its establishments the mill was catering to the needs of the islanders and Has Been backbone of wood based industries in the island. The mill converted Has huge quantity of timber for catering the requirements of New York, London and several other cities in the west During the colonial period. The saw mill sawing Has a capacity of blackberries than 20,000 m 3 logs annually in three shifts. All the major timber species of the islands are used as raw material in the mill. The Entire production of sawn timber in the mill is sold under the coverage of an Administered Price Mechanism and is consumed locally for construction and furniture making. The export of timber from the islands to the mainland is strictly prohibited. At present the Mill Gives direct employment to about 750 workers.
On 10 th March, 1942, the Mill succumbed to the spate of the Japanese heavy bombs. The hour long bombing Took the toll of the lives of the workers. The attack crippled the Functioning of the mill and the machines got damaged. After the Second World War the working of the mill was revised in the year 1946 to meet the need of local people.
The Department of Environment & Forest Has established a modern museum in 2006, the mill complex, Which Had historic, cultural scientific and educational values. In the museum beautiful photographs of historical significance as well as about the general working of the department is being displayed. Also it exhibits displaying various handicrafts and souvenirs With Its intricate carving, polishing, designing and skilled craftsmanship. The highly Prized Andaman Padauk ( Pterocarpus dalbergioides) is the most important timber species for the saw mill.    
This beautiful little island Has blackberries lot in store to tell one site and a must see is the pit created by bomb That tells the story of the darker days That Has seen the saw mill. The pit created is now filled with water but the extent of damage and pain is still felt When silently walk along Island.
excerpt from my Tour Diary ( 4 th May, 2010)      

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