LAKSHADWEEP DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY REGULATION 2021
Residents of Lakshadweep have been protesting against some new regulations that have been introduced by their new administrator Praful Khoda Patel. The citizens are even saying that the administrator is not working for the island. The new rules allow the liquor to be sold on the island, bans beef and plans to disenfranchise the islanders of various counts.
WHAT IS DRAFT LDAR 2021?
The Draft Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation, 2021 or LDAR 2021 was notified on the official website of the administration. Its proposal is to change the existing land ownership on the island. It also aims to modify the usage in Lakshadweep by providing sweeping, arbitrary, unchecked powers to the government. This in turn is directly interfering with the island’s resident’s right to possess and retain their property. The Regulation also gives the powers to the Government to choose any land for “development” activities that have been provided under its regulation. Once the land is picked, it could be used as per the government sees fit.
MAIN PROVISIONS OF THE DRAFT
- Introduction of the anti-social Activities Regulation Bill, 2021: The government introduced a draft detention law called the Prevention of Anti-Social Activities, which if implemented can empower the administration to detain anyone without public disclosure for up to one year.
- Beef Ban: The government also introduced the draft Lakshadweep Animal Preservation Regulation 2021, which if implemented will ban the slaughter of cows, calfs of a cow, bulls and bullocks.
- Land Development Initiatives: Since Lakshadweep is a Union Territory without an Assembly it is directly controlled by the Centre. The administration introduced the Draft Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation, 2021, which if implemented will empower the government to take any piece of land owned by any common man in the island for “development” purposes.
- Diversion of all cargo to Mangalore: The administration has introduced measures diverting all cargo to Mangalore. The move has been met with opposition because, prior to this, majority of the local businessmen relied on Beypore port in Kerala, a state with which the islanders have strong cultural ties.
- Decision to allow functioning of liquor bars: Lakshadweep is a Muslim-majority region with Malayalam being the dominant language. The islands are non-alcoholic zones. However, Patel gave his nod for businesses to open liquor bars in the island, stating that such a move will promote tourism.
PEOPLE'S CONCERN RELATED TO THE DRAFT
As per the citizens the following are the reasons for the discontent of the citizens/ residents: The 10 inhabited islands were under a two month lockdown. The Lakshadweep administration is accused of exploitation of the public's inability at this time to mobilise arbitrary legislation. Locals also say that these regulations are out of sync with the socio-political and environmental requirements. Many islanders also suspect that LDAR might have been issued for seeking real estate interests to usurp small holdings of property owned by islanders. The islanders also fear that the LDAR may provide for forcible eviction. It puts the onus on the owner ro develop the holding as per plan by the authority. The Regulation also provides for unchecked power to the Government and it's bodies interfering with the rights of the islanders to retain their property.
The people of Lakshadweep have also opposed the administrator of trying to interfere in the traditional life by introducing a ban on buying or selling beef products. The Goonda Act being introduced in the island that has negligible crime rate and revoking of restrictions on alcohol for benefit of tourism also have attracted criticism from the islanders. Some things that were equally non satisfactory were that the island descended from being COVID 19 free region to developing more than 6800 cases in a year.Also the mandatory quarantine if the island bound travellers was done away with in the leadership of Praful Khoda Patel.
The protests got a wider reach when Kerala MP Elamaram Kareem wrote to President Ram Nath Kovind alleging that several casual laborers lost their jobs in the wake of new reforms. Further, sheds and equipment of fishermen were demolished without any warning by the new administration on the account of violating the Coast Guard Act. The new administration also said that islanders should rely on Mangalore (Karnataka) rather than Beypore (Kerala) for freight transit. People from Lakshadweep also have been taking it to social media writing they need help. The new administration has been destroying our land, tweeted a local resident of Lakshadweep.
LAKSHADWEEP (INDIAN UNION TERRITORY)
- About: India’s smallest Union Territory, Lakshadweep is an archipelago consisting of 36 islands with an area of 32 sq km. It is directly under the control of the Centre through an administrator.
- There are three main group of islands: Amindivi Islands, Laccadive Islands, Minicoy Island. Amindivi Islands are the northernmost while Minicoy island is the southernmost. All are tiny islands of coral origin (Atoll) and are surrounded by fringing reefs. The Capital is Kavaratti and it is also the principal town of the UT. Pitti island, which is uninhabited, has a bird sanctuary.
- Population: More than 93% of the population who are indigenous, are Muslims and majority of them belong to the Shafi School of the Sunni Sect. Malayalam is spoken in all the islands except Minicoy where people speak Mahl which is written in Divehi script and is spoken in Maldives also. The entire indigenous population has been classified as Scheduled Tribes because of their economic and social backwardness. There are no Scheduled Castes in this Union Territory. The main occupation of the people is fishing, coconut cultivation and coir twisting. Tourism is an emerging industry.
- Organic Agricultural Area: Recently, the entire Lakshadweep group of islands has been declared as an organic agricultural area under the Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) of India.