NEW DELHI: Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the reforms in Lakshadweep alleging that the future of the people of the island is threatened as the administrator has unilaterally proposed sweeping changes without duly consulting elected representatives.
In a three-page letter to Modi on Wednesday, Rahul Gandhi said, “Lakshadweep’s pristine natural beauty and its unique confluence of cultures have drawn people for generations. The custodians of its heritage seek to safeguard the archipelago for posterity.
“However, their future is threatened by the anti-people policies announced by the administrator of Lakshadweep, Praful Khoda Patel. The administrator has unilaterally proposed sweeping changes without duly consulting elected representatives or the public. The people of Lakshadweep are protesting against these arbitrary actions,” he said.
Patel was appointed Administrator of Lakshadweep Islands in December 2020. Patel, a former Gujarat Home Minister, first shot into the limelight after Mohan Delkar, the Lok Sabha MP of Union Territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli & Daman and Diu, committed suicide in a Mumbai hotel on February 22. Subsequently, the Maharashtra police had booked the UT Administrator in March.
The Congress leader said that the administrator’s attempt to undermine the ecological sanctity of the island is evident in the draft Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation issued recently.
“The provisions undermine safeguards pertaining to land ownership, dilute environmental regulations for certain activities and severely limit legal recourse available to affected persons. Livelihood security and sustainable development are being sacrificed for short-term commercial gains,” said the Congress Lok Sabha MP from Kerala’s Wayanad.
He said that the provision in the draft Panchayat Regulation that disqualifies members with more than two children is blatantly “anti-democratic”.
He also said that furthermore, proposed changes to regulations like Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Regulation, the Lakshadweep Animals Preservation Regulation and lifting of restrictions on sale of alcohol are a “deliberate assault” on the “cultural and religious” fabric of the local community.
“The attempt to cut ties with Beypore port strikes at the close historical and cultural ties with Kerala,” the Congress leader said.
Rahul Gandhi said that despite the Covid pandemic, the administration demolished structures used by the fisherfolk, fired contractual workers in various government departments, and relaxed quarantine norms that led to a lethal spike in Covid cases.
“Under the guise of development and maintaining law and order in a low crime union territory, the draconian regulations penalise dissent and undermine grassroots democracy,” he said.
The Congress leader requested the Prime Minister to intervene in the matter and ensure that the orders are withdrawn.
“The people of Lakshadweep deserve a developmental vision that respects their way of life and reflects their aspirations,” he added.