A ‘reform wave’ Lakshadweep could do without
Recently, Administrator of Lakshadweep, introduced a slew of draft legislation that will have a wide-ranging impact on the islands:
- the Lakshadweep Animal Preservation Regulation, 2021;
- the Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Regulation (PASA);
- the Lakshadweep Panchayat Regulation, 2021
- Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation 2021
INTENT BEHIND INTRODUCING SUCH DRAFT LEGISLATION
- In the face of widespread criticism of the measures, the administrator says he intends to develop Lakshadweep like neighbouring Maldives, “a renowned international tourist destination”.
ISSUES WITH THE CURRENT PROPOSALS
- The context in which the current proposals are introduced, are in turn based on distorted facts. But on the contrary:
- Assertion made by the collector of Lakshadweep that it was only in 2017 that the Centre constituted the Island Development Agency under the Home Minister for the development of the islands is not correct.
- Instead a special Island Development Authority (IDA) was constituted as early as 1988, for the island territories of India in Kavaratti, chaired by the then Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi.
- The Authority was of the view that an environmentally sound strategy for development of the island hinges on better exploitation of marine resources coupled with much greater care in the use of land resources.
- Union Territory had its own decentralised political entity from the adoption of panchayati raj, much before the constitutional amendments of 1993, in which the Island Development Council, at the apex of the local government, was mandated to advise the Administrator on development.
- Also, the claims that the Lakshadweep is not developed is not true. The island has its own airport and a flourishing tourist industry with an international tourist resort in Bangaram.
- Lakshadweep also gives India a vast and exclusive economic zone with three distinct ecosystems.
- Further the island already has a flourishing culture and literature.
WHY MALDIVES MODEL SHOULD NOT BE IMPLEMENTED IN LAKSHADWEEP
Flaws in Maldive model
- This model has concepts like Water bungalow which is favoured by the NITI Aayog is expensive and hazardous to the coral.
- Also, there are issues in the model which affect the turbulent monsoon.
Development till present in the Lakshadweep
- Lakshadweep today has rainwater harvesting facilities, first introduced in government buildings on every island and Solar power(10% of lighting needs).
- All islands have been connected by helicopter service since 1986, and high-speed passenger boats were purchased in the 1990s by an international tender.
- Not only on connectivity and infrastructure, Lakshadweep is also good in other indicators too.
- Lakshadweep today has no poor people and has plentiful food.
- Island has had sufficient computerisation from as early as 1990.
Instead Lakshadweep requires sustainable model of development
- Despite the achievements of the island, there is no doubt that there is scope for improvement in the island. But, none of this improvement requires any of the measures announced by the Administrator.
- As suggested by the Island Development Agency, Lakshadweep, whose land ownership is constitutionally protected, should be opened to international tourism not as a means of generating wealth for investors from the mainland but to bring prosperity to the islanders.
- Lakshadweep requires industries which are people-centric and enrich the fragile coral ecology.
- Hence, there is a need for clear policy that must include conservation and natural resource management within the existing infrastructure taking into account the climatic compulsions of Lakshwadeep’s fragile ecosystem.
- Administrator draft proposing cow slaughter ban, preventive detention law in the island, where there are no cows and no crime, makes no sense with respect to development of the island.
- Also the steps undermine the tribal land ownership, with judicial remedy denied, along with the plans for widening the roads on the island, where the maximum road length is 11 km.
- Further the provisions to allow the mining and exploitation of mineral resources which could convert the islands into a hub for cement manufacture.
- Hence, there is a need to avoid such policies and instead focus should be on the sustainable development of the island.
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