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Lakshadweep administration justifies reform measures, says it wants to develop islands like Maldives

The Lakshadweep administration, which is under attack from the Opposition for its reform measures, on Thursday said it was laying the foundation for the future of islands in a planned way and to develop it on the lines of the Maldives in two decades.

Rejecting allegations that all measures were taken without taking people of the islands into confidence, Lakshadweep District Collector S Asker Ali said those who are having vested interests and those involved in illegal business were carrying out propaganda against the administration.

“Lakshadweep is very peaceful. It will remain peaceful. Now also in the islands, it is very peaceful,” Ali said at a press conference here.

In response to charges by opposition parties that Administrator Praful Patel unilaterally lifted restrictions on the use of alcohol in the Muslim-majority islands, he said liquor permits were given for some select tourist establishments, and it was meant only for tourists.

On the decision to ban cow slaughter, he said that many states have enacted cow protection laws, so the law has also been introduced in Lakshadweep on the same lines.

“Only those who are associated with its illegal business and those who have personal interests are propagating against this legislation,” he claimed.

Asked about the decision to exclude meat products from the menu of the mid-day meal for students, Ali said this was a policy decision and in the mid-day meal menu, non-veg components like fish and eggs are kept.

This decision was taken by a government committee after consulting many people including fishermen.

He said fish was included in the menu to promote local fishermen, and they had pressed for that. “This is one way to promote them”, Ali said.

Justifying the decision to introduce the Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Act (PASA) in the islands, the official said this is to check incidents like drug abuse and increasing cases relating to sexual abuse of children.

“So when we plan to develop this island holistically we cannot compromise on the Law and Order fronts. Lakshadweep is very peaceful. But now few cases are emerging”, he said, responding to queries on various regulations of the new administration.

The press meet was held amid mounting protest from opposition parties against the “anti-people” policies of administrator Praful Patel in the islands.

The collector further said the administration wanted to develop islands like the Maldives in the next 10 or 20 years. The islands are very critical from a security point of view.

“So we are planning for holistic development for these islands. From a security point of view, the Lakshadweep islands are very critical. So we cannot take a chance.

“Basically, we wanted to prepare ourselves for the requirements of the future considering the experience and present emerging situations,” Ali said.

Noting that the Maldives with the same natural beauty and similar geographical location as Lakshadweep has emerged as a great tourism destination in the world, he said even today there are negligible facilities for tourism in the union territory.

He said three eco-friendly tourism water villa projects are being developed by the Lakshadweep administration in collaboration with NITI Aayog, similar to the Maldives, Minicoy, Kadmat and Suheli work on the same will start from August this year.

With this, tourism will get a new dimension and tourists will get facilities for accommodation and entertainment while locals will get new opportunities for employment and business.

“Keeping tourism in mind, liquor permits have been given at the selected tourist establishment, only for the tourists,” he said.

The official said the UT administration has taken steps to introduce freight from Mangalore port and Kochi to ensure the availability of essential commodities on the islands located at the northern end as they are geographically closer to Mangalore Port.

“The use of this sea route will reduce the navigable distance by about 75 nautical miles and save the time of 9 hours, which will also result in a reduction in the cost of freight by about Rs 200 per tonne”, he pointed out.

Ali termed as “misleading” the propaganda that a person with more than two children cannot be a candidate in the election.

“It is clarified in this context that when this Panchayat Act is notified, its provisions will only apply to the parents of infants born after the due date of notification.”

Ali said the administration has started continuous work for the prosperity and bright future of all its citizens, especially fishermen, women and youth of the Union Territory, “which is being left behind in the race for development from its brothers and sisters of the other Indian states/UTs.”

“In such a situation, the people whose vested interests are hit by the Administration are propagating misinformation campaign against it.

All citizens are requested to participate in this journey of development led by the administration,” he added.

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