- GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors
- GS-3: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources
Protests over Lakshadweep Administration Proposals
Context: Over the last few weeks, public anger has been simmering in the Lakshadweep islands over a number of controversial proposals floated by the Union Territory Administrator.
Some of the proposals include:
- Cow slaughter & beef
- PROPOSAL: An order from the Administration seeks to ban the slaughter of cow, calf, bull and buffalo without a certificate from a competent authority. It prohibits the sale, transport and storage of beef and beef products. Penalties include a jail term up to one year and a fine of Rs 10,000. The Administration has not provided an explanation on why the rule was brought in.
- PROTEST: Residents view the rule as a direct infringement on their culture and eating habits. They allege the rule was decided without consultation with local bodies.
- Two-child policy
- PROPOSAL: Under the Draft Panchayat Regulation 2021, the Administration aims to bar people with more than two children from becoming a member of the gram panchayat. For those who already have more than two children, the regulation does not disqualify them provided they do not have further children after the date on which the rule comes into effect.
- PROTEST: Locals have questioned the motive. The NCP and the Congress too have opposed the move.
- Serving liquor to tourists
- PROPOSAL: The Administration has decided to allow liquor to be served at resorts on inhabited islands. Currently, prohibition is in place on all inhabited islands, with liquor served only at resorts on the uninhabited Bangaram island. Collector S Asker Ali clarified that liquor permits would be given only to resorts for tourists, not for locals.
- PROTEST: Residents have alleged that the move will lead to a proliferation of liquor sales on the island, which had been observing near-prohibition until now.
- Land acquisition powers
- PROPOSAL: The Administration brought in a draft Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation (LDAR) to oversee development of towns on the islands, with sweeping changes in the way land can be acquired and utilised. It talks of declaration of ‘planning areas’ and constitution of ‘planning and development authorities’ for preparing a land use map and register, ostensibly for large projects.
- PROTEST: Residents have protested against the way it was prepared and pushed through without consultation. They fear large infrastructure and tourism projects can destabilise the ecology, and that the notification gives powers to the Administration to remove small landholdings of ST residents.
- Covid-19 SOPs
- PROPOSAL: For a year, Lakshadweep did not record any case of Covid-19 , thanks to stringent quarantine protocols and testing of inbound travellers. Last December, Covid-19 SOPs were diluted by doing away with mandatory quarantine for travellers at Kochi and Kavaratti. Instead, anyone with a negative RT-PCR certificate issued in the previous 48 hours could travel to Lakshadweep. The Administration said the SOPs were changed in accordance with Home Ministry rules and to allow for reopening of the economy.
- PROTEST: The change led to the island losing its ‘green zone’ tag and a spurt in infections in subsequent months. As of May 28, the Union Territory has reported over 7,300 cases and 28 deaths. Islanders blame the Administration for mismanagement in handling of the pandemic.
While the UT Administration has said Patel’s proposals are aimed at ensuring safety and well-being of residents along with promoting the islands as a tourist destination on par with the Maldives, residents view them as ripping the social and cultural fabric of the islands.