Last update:
2022-01-08

Lakshadweep islands residents complain against a “political-corporate” nexus, India

Lakshadweep residents are in conflict with BJP authorities on the impact of large development tourist projects which may undermine marine biology and the livelihood of the fishing communities.



Description:

Lakshadweep residents are believed to be descendants of migrants who arrived from the Malabar Coast of southwest India. Ethnically and linguistically similar to Kerala, they have strong links with this state. They are mostly Muslims. There are in 2021 several conflicts having to do with BJP plans in the islands (with 70,000 inhabitants). Some conflicts are linked to religion, and food habits (Hindutva principles), and others to the impact on ecology and fisherfolk of large so-called developmental projects which may undermine the livelihood of the fishing community. On 8th June 2021, it was reported: "The entire Lakshadweep went on a 12-hour hunger strike protesting against the Union Territory administration and Administrator Praful Khoda Patel for sanctioning "anti-people" policies. Residents held placards outside their homes, on charpoys and even underwater with slogans like "Revoke LDAR" (Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation) and "Justice for Lakshadweep". People supporting the movement bombarded social media platforms with #SaveLakshadweep and pictures of the mass protest. But what is the protest all about?" [5]. 

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Lakshadweep islands residents complain against a “political-corporate” nexus, India
Country:India
State or province:Union Territory of Lakshadweep
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Biodiversity conservation conflicts
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Tourism facilities (ski resorts, hotels, marinas)
Wetlands and coastal zone management
Land acquisition conflicts
Establishment of reserves/national parks
Specific commodities:Fish
Tourism services
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Lakshadweep, also known as Laccadives, is a Union Territory of India. It is an archipelago of 36 islands in the Arabian sea, located 200 to 440 km off of the Malabar Coast. In 2021, a new administrator enacted some rules, directed towards land grabbing for the benefit of the hotel industry. The majority of the inhabitants are fisher people, who have evolved through centuries as stakeholders of local ecosystems and developed identities fundamentally intertwined with nature. As reported in The Hindu (6), the latest draft regulation for the creation of a Lakshadweep Development Authority (LDA) is resented as the 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. Hundreds of islanders wrote to the Administrator demanding that the proposed regulation, which makes “provision for the orderly and progressive development of land in both urban and rural areas and to preserve and improve the amenities thereof; for the grant of permission to develop land and for other powers of control over the use of land; to confer additional powers in respect of the acquisition and development of land for planning and for purposes connected with the matters aforesaid” be withdrawn [6].

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Type of populationRural
Affected Population:70,000
Start of the conflict:2020
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:The 'Save Lakshadweep forum' in the islands and in Kerala
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Hunger strikes and self immolation
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage)
Other Environmental impactsImpact on marine biology
Health ImpactsPotential: Malnutrition
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Outcome
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Fostering a culture of peace
Proposal and development of alternatives:Lakshadweep residents went on a 12-hour hunger strike in June 2021 against land grabbing for tourist hotels and against newly imposed rules governing tourism, cattle, and panchayat elections, which they fear will destroy the unique culture and tradition of the island, home to around 70,000 residents. According to Vikalp Sangam [7], on the contrary, what is needed is:

- Withdraw immediately Lakshadweep’s Administrator Praful Khoda Patel and replace him by an I.A.S cadre officer as previously done.
- Suspend the plans for on-shore and off-shore development of Lakshadweep for high-end tourism, and make Kavaratti into a “smart city”.
- Conduct social and environmental impact assessments of all proposed ‘development initiatives’ with transparent public hearings and consultations and involving local people as well as those who have been working for the conservation of biodiversity in the region; explore decentralized and regenerative alternatives in participation with the local people privileging the local livelihood needs and the ecosystems.
- Restore the powers of Local Self Governments with immediate effect.
- Withdraw, in the public interest, the draft Regulations and other measures like relaxing alcohol restrictions, relaxing Covid quarantine, etc.
- Withdraw the ban on beef and respect the food habits of the local people.
- Scrap the Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Regulation, 2021.
- Rollback the move to bypass the islander’s trade links with Baypore and move it to Mangalore; do not tamper with the historical, economic and cultural connection of the islanders with Kerala.
- Stop the repressive measures and legal action by the UT administration against people rightfully and peacefully protesting these authoritarian measures.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:The BJP administrator was enacting his own rules and planning his vision of "development". He belongs to BJP party. The islands are a Union Territory. Environmental aspects come together with cultural aspects. The BJP administrator has changed school weekly holiday from Friday (for Muslims) to Sunday.
Sources & Materials

[1] Lakshadweep’s draft land regulations by Centre-appointed Administrator last nail for simmering islanders. Ashlin Mathew. 25 May 2021 . National Herald
[click to view]

[2] Money Control. Lakshadweep up in arms. May 28, 2021 / By Nachiket Deuskar
[click to view]

[3] The Citizen. P.K.BALACHANDRAN | 2 JULY, 2021.
[click to view]

[4] The Wire, 8 June 2021. 'Lakshadweep's First United Protest in History': UT Residents Fast, Strike Against Patel Admin

The Save Lakshadweep Forum has said that the daylong protest against administrator Praful Khoda's decisions on June 7 could be one of the first times the peaceful islands have stirred unitedly. By Muhammed Sabith.
[click to view]

[6] The Hindu. Widespread resentment in Lakshadweep over a slew of bad law proposals. S. AnandanKOCHI, MAY 24, 2021.
[click to view]

The Diplomat. Lakshadweep: Trouble in Paradise?. A series of controversial changes by a BJP appointee is causing concern on the island chain. By Sudha Ramachandran. June 01, 2021



Sudha Ramachandran

By Sudha Ramachandran

June 01, 2021
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

[5] Lakshadweep: What's At The Heart Of Protest Against The Administrator | [email protected] (India.com News Desk) 08-06-2021
[click to view]

[7] Vikalp Sangam protests regressive moves in Lakshadweep in India — by Vikalp Sangam Core Group — 12/06/2021 (excellent analysis).
[click to view]

Video protest June 2021. Lakshadweep
[click to view]

Newsminute.Geetika Mantri. An assault on culture and nature: Why Lakshadweep is against Administrator Patel. 25 May 2021.
[click to view]

Meta information
Last update08/01/2022
Conflict ID:5786
Comments
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