April 24, 2024



New Lakshadweep regulations proposed by its new administrator are attracting opposition from local leaders. The smallest union territory of India (Lakshadweep) is undergoing severe changes for the last few days. The new administrator has introduced 4 new regulations that would alter the culture, livelihood, ecology, and development level of the island.

Lakshadweep Regulations formulated by the Administrator

  1. The draft legislations are:
    1. Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation 2021
    2. The Lakshadweep Animal Preservation Regulation, 2021;
    3. The Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Regulation (PASA);
    4. The Lakshadweep Panchayat Regulation, 2021.

Concerns with new draft laws:

  1. Real Estate Lobby: People suspect that this might have been issued at the behest of ‘real estate interests’ seeking to usurp the small holdings of property owned by the islanders, a majority of them (94.8% as per the 2011 census) belonging to the Scheduled Tribes (ST).
  2. Forcible Eviction: LDA regulation vests such powers with the authority that it can prepare comprehensive development plans for any area and relocate people regardless of their will.
  3. Threat to Culture: The island community is a close-knit group with families living in close proximity. The regulation will destroy the way of life practised by them for generations.
    1. The ‘Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Regulation’, a ‘goonda act’, in the Dweep is not required as the island is known for the lowest crime rate in the country.
  4. Ecological Concerns: The ecologically fragile islands are tiny and thickly populated.
    1. The largest of the inhabited islands is Androth with a landmass of 4.9 sq km area where the density of population is 2,312 per sq km
  5. Issues with the Maldives model
  6. Income disparities: Long lines and refrigeration have aided the expansion of the fishing sector but income disparities have grown.
  7. Indiscriminate trawlingendangers the coral, as experienced in the Maldives and now banned there.
  8. Revenue from tourism has declinedwith the closure of resorts (including at Bangaram) from litigation.
  9. Non- sustainable:Maldives is hardly a suitable model.
    1. Water bungalows— an expensive concept and also hazardous to the coral — favoured by the NITI Aayog, would collapse in Lakshadweep’s turbulent monsoon.

Way forward:

  1. Continuing the IDA framework: A specially constituted Island Development Authority (IDA)for the island territories of India, in 1988, had approved a framework for the development of India’s island territories.
  2. In 2017, the Centre constituted the Island Development Agencyunder the Home Minister for the development of the islands.
  3. Objectives:It held the view that “an environmentally sound strategy for both island groups hinges on better exploitation of marine resources coupled with much greater care in the use of land resources”.
    1. Cooperative federalism:As per the constitutional amendments of 1993, the Island Development Council was mandated to advise the Administrator on development.
  4. Deliberations of the IDA wanted Lakshadweep, with its land ownership constitutionally protected.
  5. Promoting local economy: It 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.
  6. Specifically rejecting the Maldives model, the plan for Lakshadweep required that the industry had to be people-centric and enrich the fragile coral ecology.
  7. A clear policy must include conservation and natural resource managementarrived at after wide consultation, eminently possible within the existing infrastructure of the Union Territory, and also taking into account climatic compulsions.
  8. Develop policies for enhancing employment opportunities, environment-friendly management of fisheries, sanitation, waste disposal and widening access to drinking water.


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