Lakshadweep Drafts need attention

Our beautiful planet earth has already lost 70 percent of its biodiversity, and we are dealing with many environmental problems such as global warming, climate change, and the increasing frequency of deadly diseases. India’s most beautiful and smallest Union Territory, one of the biodiversity hotspots is trying to grab our attention. The region is under political and administrative threat, which has been already questioned by many administrators. You also need to know…

The laws:-

[1] Lakshadweep Animal Preservation and Regulation, 2021

  • This regulation seeks to ban the slaughter of cows, calf, bull, and buffalo without an approval certificate from a competent authority. It also prohibits the sale, transport, and storage of beef and beef products. In violation of it, the person may attract a jail term of up to one year and a fine of Rs 10,000.
  • The inhabitants are considering the law as a direct infringement on their culture and eating habits. The administrator had already stopped non-vegetarian items in the mid-day meals for school children and government-run hostels.
  • Now, there are also visible attempts to prevent people from rearing cows for milk and meat. Gujarat’s cooperative giant Amul is also attempting to take sole control of all milk-related needs of the islands.

[2] The Panchayat Regulation, 2021

  • The law bar people from having more than two children from becoming a member of the gram panchayat, however, the regulation doesn’t disqualify those who already have more than two children, provided they do not have further children after the date on which the rule comes into effect.
  • The NGO Population Foundation of India said the proposal to be “suicidal” defied all logic. It also pointed out that according to the National Health and Family Survey of 2019-2020, Lakshadweep had a total fertility rate of 1.4, which is far less than the national average of 2. 2 and a cause for concern.

[3] Anti-Social Activities Regulation Bill 2021

  • It also has allowed liquor to be served at resorts on inhabited islands, in the name of promoting large-scale tourism activities. The District Collector clarified that liquor permits would be given only to resorts for tourists, not for locals.
  • However, currently, it is prohibited in the islands with liquor served only at resorts on the uninhabited Bangaram Island, and this law would proliferate the liquor sale in the region.
  • It also empowers authorities to detain a person for up to one year in preventive detention without legal representation. The Collector said while the island remains peaceful, there have been reports of drugs being found along with weapons and live ammunition, and regulation is required to keep the “youth from getting misguided by illegal businesses”.
  • Residents are skeptical of the need for such stringent law in a UT with one of the lowest crime rates in the country. They allege it has been brought in to arrest those opposed to the Administration.

[4] Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation, 2021

  • The law would oversee the development of towns, large infrastructure, and tourism projects. It also gives the power to remove small landholdings of ST residents regardless of their will. It implies that localities would be required to pay fees to gain approval to alter zones as per the development plan, as well as fees for permission to develop their own land.
  • The island community is a close-knit group with families living in close proximity. The regulation will destroy the way of life practiced by them for generations.
  • Tourism has increased the presence of microplastics in the seawater, affecting fish health, which would attract more disasters.
  • It is neither ecologically sustainable nor socially viable and the people’s representatives were not consulted before drafting it.

Last but not least the administrator decided to publicly ignore the quarantine rules imposed on everyone else. The region which was not having a single case convert to one of the worst affected areas of the country after arrival of its new administrator, with more than 10% of the population estimated to have been infected. He saw a banner imprinted with a slogan against India’s controversial CAA, he ordered it to be removed and three people on whose land the sign was placed were arrested and released on bail.

The Lakshadweep

It is an archipelago ‘the paradise in the Arabian Sea’ consists of 36 islands with an area of 32 square km. These islands are across the 12 atolls close to Kerala, which also ensures its essential needs. These corals are eroding rapidly by increasing climate changes, and pollution. The lagoons have seagrass named meadows, which is a place to hide and grow for juvenile fishes. It gives a vast and exclusive economic zone with three distinct ecosystems the land, lagoon, and ocean.

A beautiful image of corals of Lakshadweep, which could experience the extinction as happened in Maldives.

However, only 10 islands are habitable, once were part of the Malabar district of Madras Presidency, got Union Territory status in 1956. It is ruled under a centrally appointed administrator. Its principal town and capital are Kavaratti, and other main islands are the Amindivi islands, Laccadive Islands, and Minicoy islands. According to the 2011 census, the islands have a population of 65,000 which share 96% Muslims and 94.8% Schedule Tribes, who speak Malayalam and Dhivehi. The society here is involved in the primary occupation of Fishery and follows the matriarchal pattern in the family. Despite heavy rainfall, these islands are water-stressed, tourism that ignores these realities will damage these islands.

Although, Lakshadweep is already an advanced region with a rainwater harvesting facility in every house, with 10% lighting needs from solar power. Kavaratti has a desalination wind-powered plant that was gifted by the Danish government. All the islands successfully connected to helicopter services since 1986, and high-speed passenger boats. The island has a 92.8% literacy rate with no poor person with high calorific consumption from plentiful foods harvested from the lagoons and islands.

The changes are directed by it’s new administrator Praful Patel

He took charge of the Union Territory (UT) on December 2, 2020, the one-time BJP MLA from Gujarat issued a series of extraordinary orders. He has never been to the island to understand its people concern, their heritage, and culture. The Mumbai Police has registered a case against eight people, including Patel, for abatement to suicide after Delkar killed himself at a city hotel.

In 2016, he was appointed as administrator of Daman and Diu. However, this post of administrator is normally entrusted to someone at the joint secretary level. Four months later, in December 2016, he was given an additional charge of Dadra & Nagar Haveli. All the regions he administered, had experienced similar treatments. There are rumors, that he doesn’t know the decision should be made with second, third, or fourth level discussions. He fired 560 members from the tribal community from the public works department, and make appointments based on nepotism.

The archipelago produces little that can be used to erect a high-end tourism resort. Everything will have to be shipped in from the mainland. For freshwater supplies, resorts will need their own desalination plants. The ones already set up at the National Institute of Ocean Technology, cost anywhere between Rs 6 crore to Rs 11 crore, installing and maintaining such a system will add to the costs.

A democratic government should work per the residents, however, the series of regulations proposed by the Lakshadweep administrator has caused widespread resentment and fear among its residents. The Government should recognize the need to develop policies for enhancing employment opportunities, environment-friendly management of fisheries, sanitation, waste disposal, and widening access to drinking water, with the youth, having acquired a modern education, preferring salaried jobs over pursuing traditional occupations.

Images and content from The Hindu and Google.

Published by Neel Kamal

My name is Neelkamal. Here, I will provide the content effective for everyone who want to learn more and more. And if you want, I am open for your suggestion to write on. I have done M.Sc in Biotechnology and also read about the Political, Social, Environmental issues. So, my blog will surrounds upon topics related to these subjects.

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