Chatham Saw Mill - Port Blair
At a distance of 3.5 km from Port Blair Central Bus Stand, Chatham Saw Mill, the biggest and the oldest mill across Asia, is situated in Chatham Island of Andaman and Nicobar Islands in India. It is owned by Forest Department and is one of the popular tourist places in Port Blair.
The Chatham Saw Mill was established in 1883 by the British with the second hand imported machines to meet the local requirement of timber for construction works. During the West colonial period, British used this mill to convert huge quantity of timber for catering the various needs of London, New York and various other cities.
During the Second World War, Japanese bombarded and destroyed the mill in 1942, in which the many workers were succumbed to death. Later on, after the year 1945, the Japanese occupied the islands and the mill was revived again. During 1950s and 1960s, people from Sri Lanka, East Pakistan, Burma and different states of India settled in the islands and it increased the requirement of saw timber that will result in the rebirth of Chatham Saw Mill.
Now, the mill is a big store house for different varieties of wood including Marble, Padauk, Gurjan and Satin wood. The mill has an installed capacity for sawing about 20,000 cum logs annually in three shifts. All the major timber trees of the Islands are used as raw material in the mill. The mill is functioning as the main source of timber for government and private agencies at a moderate price. This mill processes many types of ornamental wood suitable for making furniture and handicrafts. The export of timber from the Islands to the mainland is strictly prohibited. The mill at present gives direct employment to about 750 persons.
The working of the mill is attributed to different sections that work in coordination, as the segregation of the logs is the responsibility of the log depot. The conversion of round logs into different sizes is the responsibility of the mill section. Preservative and seasoning of the wood is the responsibility of the Timber processing unit. The other units present in the mill are Construction unit, Mechanical Unit, Saw Doctoring Unit, Electrical Unit Dispensary, Canteen and Security etc., guides are hired by the travellers for a brief tour of the mill.
The Department of Environment & Forests has established a modern Museum in September 2006 in the Mill Complex. The museum exhibits beautiful photographs of historical importance as well as about the general working of the Department of Environment & Forests. It also exhibits souvenirs and various handicrafts on timber. The products are distinct with its intricate carving, polishing, designing and skilled craftsmanship.
Timings: 8 AM to 2.30 PM on all days except Sundays and on Public holidays
Entry Fee: Rs. 10 for Person & Rs. 50 for Guide