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Save Lakshadweep: Stop ‘Reform’ Which Is Not Socially Just And Ecologically Sustainable


There
is a growing call to save Lakshadweep islands from attempts
to destroy them socially, culturally and ecologically. One
of the key demands is for the government of India to recall
the Administrator appointed in Lakshadweep immediately and
ensure democratic rights to decision-making are held by the
islanders.

The National Alliance of People’s Movements
(NAPM) condemned and opposed the recent measures brought in
and proposed by the Lakshadweep Union Territory
Administrator, Praful Khoda Patel. These will disrupt the
local ecological, social and cultural balance of the
Lakshadweep islands and its community of around 65,000
inhabitants, through destructive developmentalism and
religious chauvinism, said the statement issued by the
NAPM.

“We challenge the implementation of the
Constitutionally unsound Draft Lakshadweep Development
Authority Regulation 2021 (LDAR), Prevention of Anti-Social
Activities Act (PASA) and other draconian Acts which go
against the spirit of a sovereign, socialist, secular and
democratic India and are actively designed to harm its
citizens”.

Widely respected development justice
leaders like Dr Sandeep Pandey and Medha Patkar are among
those who have endorsed the NAPM statement. “The forced
imposition of ‘development’ will cause a social and economic
crisis among the community and lead to cultural erasure.
This assault by the current regime is also in line with its
well-known hatred for Muslim populations.”

Corporate
capture?

These plans and regulations, which are
designed to enable large-scale corporate entry into the
tourism and hospitality sector, are not only anti-people,
but also anti-environment. The measures adopted are arguably
bad for any society, but especially so for smaller
communities which live in the ecologically and
environmentally sensitive Lakshadweep islands. Each one of
the proposals will enhance global warming with rise in sea
level, and speed up the climate crisis. This also goes
against our national policy regarding climate change, said
NAPM leaders.

Corporate capture refers to the means by
which an economic elite undermine the realization of human
rights and the environment by exerting undue influence over
domestic and international decision-makers and public
institutions.

Looming question is on the government
for pushing such anti-people measures which will only
benefit coffers of few corporations at the expense of local
people and the ecology of these islands. Ending corporate
capture is critically important if we are to deliver on the
government’s promise of sustainable development goals where
no one is left behind.

Dr Sandeep Pandey, who is also
the national Vice President of Socialist Party (India)
shared the consensus which emerged at an open forum
‘Satyagraha’ on the theme of “Lakshadweep – the burning
heart” hosted last week. The clarion call was given to
protect the social, cultural, economic and environmental
rights of Lakshadweep from looming threat of the agenda of
right-wing BJP and its allies in the central
Government.

Participants questioned the appointment of
Administrator of Lakshadweep Praful Patel, a politician, who
is not from the administrative service which is contrary to
the practice so far where Lakshadweep being a Union
territory had always a retired administration official as
its administrator. The admissibility and permissibility of a
Administrator declaring that he wants Lakshadweep to be
changed like Maldives and allocation of INR 700 crores for
holds with 100 year lease with INR 260 crores of central
subsidy was challenged by the
participants.

Lakshadweep’s ecology, culture, social
fabric, and good governance has proven to be phenomenal to
these islands. Out of 27 Lakshadweep islands, 10 of them are
inhabited. Fishing and coconut harvesting are the main
sources of livelihood. Lakshadweep seems to be a unique
place where there is no crime, no locks on doors, no liquor,
and there is commendable degree of social harmony, said
participants. Destroying the ecosystem of these islands is
akin to destroying the life there.

Also, it is
important to note that Lakshadweep islands were free from
corona till the new administrator came and lifted all
restrictions and now the number of people infected has gone
up to 8500.

Right to ownership of land is also being
taken away from the natives. While the local citizens do not
want liquor in their islands, new administrator introduces
liquor against people wishes in the name of
tourism.

Bio Diversity Act should also be invoked as
in Tribal area land alienation cannot be done as per law,
said Dr Lubna Sarwath, noted ecologist-environmentalist and
Telangana General Secretary of Socialist Party
(India).

“The federal character and fundamental rights
are affected. Why is a law on lines of a ‘Goonda’ Act
proposed in a place where prisons are said to be empty and
crime is at lowest rate? Lakshadweep islands are surrounded
by lagoons and its environmentally sensitive area.
Lakshadweep panchayats have been overrided. There are no
inequities in income here. The measures forced upon the
islands will threaten not just the social harmony but also
ecology and human rights of the people” said Dr Sandeep
Pandey, a Ramon Magsaysay Awardee. By the new rules of
Lakshadweep fundamental rights such as, right to equality
Article 19, right to livelihood Article 21 and right to
cultural freedom Article 29 have been
threatened.

Save Lakshadweep forum

People of
Lakshadweep have formed a ‘Save Lakshadweep Forum’ and have
decided to take legal recourse. But more than 700 people
have been suspended from jobs while the five regulations
from new administrator have been sent to ministry for
approval, said the participants.

Kerala state assembly
has passed a resolution against the new administrator,
calling upon the government to recall him and protect the
lives and livelihood of the people on these islands. All
other states and union territories should also follow this
precedence set by Kerala and stand united to save
Lakshadweep. All party committee should be constituted. Save
Lakshadweep Save Democracy movement should be started in the
country, demanded the participants.

Moderated by Manoj
T Sarang, spokesperson of Socialist Party (India) it
featured speakers including Thampan Thomas, former Member of
Parliament (MP) and State President Socialist Party (India)
Kerala; Justice Shamsuddeen, retired judge Kerala High
Court; Adiraja Muhammad Rafi, Arakkal Dynasty; Pannalal
Surana, National President, Socialist Party (India); Jawed
Raza, New Delhi; Neelakandan CR; Sunilam, ex-MLA and
convenor of Samajwadi Samagam; Moidkutty Moulavi; S
Rajasekharan, Advocate, National General Secretary,
Socialist Party (India); Hamza Koya; John CP; health justice
leader Suhas Kolhekar; Kurrakose Verghese; Sasi Kumar;
Sadiq, Convenor-Save Lakshadweep Forum; among
others.

Bobby Ramakant is part of Citizen News
Service, Asha Parivar and Socialist Party (India). Follow
him on Twitter @bobbyramakant or read
www.bit.ly/BobbyRamakant 

© Scoop Media

 



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