Govt to set up undersea cable link NEW DELHI: India will set up an undersea cable link between Chennai and Port Blair in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, in a first such exercise undertaken by the government to ensure secure and trouble-free connectivity with the strategic location. The government has already initiated preliminary work for the project that may take up to two to three years for completion, sources told TOI. A Cabinet note is being prepared on the matter and may be moved by the communications ministry shortly, the sources added. At present, the communication link with the Andaman and Nicobar Islands is provided through satellite and carries a threat of snooping and data theft, which may lead to leakage of classified information. Also, a cable link will ensure that data is transferred uninterrupted and there are no disruptions in transmission, sources said. The project is believed to have been initiated by the erstwhile UPA government, led by the Congress. A secure and reliable network to Port Blair holds a strategic importance for India. Port Blair is home to India's tri-services command, which is composed of Army, Air Force and Naval elements. Also, the islands share maritime borders with a host of nations like Myanmar, Thailand and Malaysia. The islands are also close to the Strait of Malacca, which is one of the most important shipping lanes in the world. A detailed project report (DPR) is expected to be completed by August, the sources said, adding that this can be the "beginning of more such projects", which will be undertaken by the government to ensure secure networks to offer unhindered transmission. While the project cost is yet to be firmed up, it is expected to be around Rs 1,000 crore. "However, it may be budgeted even lower," a source said. At present, the Indian government does not have any undersea cable network even though private operators like Reliance Communications, Tata Communications and i2i (owned by Bharti Airtel) have independent set-ups. While i2i connects Chennai to Singapore, Tata Communications owns and operates the world's largest fibre network measuring 2.4 lakh kms. RCom's network is also spread across continents. Commenting on the government's maiden exercise, a source said, "While it may be smaller in scale, it is an ambitious project and all efforts will be made to expedite its installation at the earliest."