Lakshadweep Collector S Asker Ali on Friday defended the laws imposed by Administrator Praful Khoda Patel and said that these administrative decisions will help the union territory to develop like Maldives thereby benefiting local residents.
While speaking to media persons on Thursday, Ali said that the Island Management Plan regarding island development but had been notified in 2017 there was no part for implementation.
"To start proper development in Lakshadweep, we want to do it holistically as these islands are exotic. Our plan is for the welfare of local residents and Lakshadweep's development. We want to develop Lakshadweep like Maldives if not better," he said.
He added, "After 75 years of Independence, development didn't commensurate with its potential. Why didn't Lakshadweep become the Maldives of India?"
Over the last week, several leaders have called for a new administrator in the Lakshadweep islands, including Lakshadweep MP and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Mohammed Faizal.
Faizal accused Patel of implementing anti-people rules and regulations and urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah to 'listen to the outcry of the local people and send in a new Administrator'.
Youth Congress Kerala President and Congress MLA Shafi Parambil even wrote to the Chief Minister of Kerala, Opposition Leader and the Speaker of the Kerala Legislative Assembly requesting to pass a resolution "as a solidarity of the Malayalee community to the struggle of the people of Lakshadweep" against the new authoritarian decisions taken by the current Administrator of Lakshadweep Praful Patel.
In the letter, Shafi said, " I request to unanimously pass a resolution as a solidarity of the Malayalee community to the struggle of the people of Lakshadweep against the Sangh Parivar agenda being implemented under the administrative rule of the Central Government without showing any democratic decency."
Congress had written to President Ram Nath Kovind alleging that the current Administrator of Lakshadweep Praful Patel had taken "authoritarian measures" and demanded his recall.In a letter written to the President, Congress general secretary KC Venugopal said that there is apprehension among the people of Lakshadweep and resultant widespread protests "owing to the authoritarian measures taken by the current Administrator Praful Patel".
Venugopal alleged that Patel, who was appointed as the Administrator of the UT of Lakshadweep on December 2, 2020, has "unilaterally imposed" a series of measures that have "caused immense disturbance and disquiet in the livelihood and the unique culture" of the islands.
"This includes the curtailment of the powers of democratically elected district panchayats and unilaterally taking over their power. As per the reports, hundreds of contract labourers working under different departments have been terminated from service until now. It is also alleged that the current Administration is imposing restrictions on the traditional food habits, apart from lifting the restriction on the consumption of alcohol which has been put in place due to religious and cultural reasons," the letter said.
Patel, who was appointed as the Administrator of Lakshadweep in December 2020 is facing opposition over policies introduced by him from the people of the union territory and politicians, both from within Lakshadweep and neighbouring state Kerala.
The Collector had defended the laws imposed by Administrator Praful Khoda Patel earlier as well and said people with vested interests are propagating misinformation about him.
In a press note, he said, "A few days ago, 300 kg heroin with an international value of 3,000 crores and 5 AK-47 rifles and 1,000 live rounds were confiscated. Similarly, many cases of illegal smuggling of Marijuana and liquor and POCSO have also been reported here. In this small UT, the future of youth is expected to be clouded by such illegal business. Keeping this in mind, strict and stringent laws are needed so that the youth here are not misguided. People having personal interests in such illegal business are propagating against the imposition of strict laws."
He added that the administration is also taking action to remove illegal encroachments at various places over the years in Lakshadweep, in protest of which, a self-motivated propaganda is being carried out by the people with vested interests.
Congress leader and Kerala MP Hibi Eden has also written to President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah urging them to "protect the interests and culture of the islanders."
Eden raised objection on Lakshadweep Administrator's decision to take over the control of the Administrative powers of elected zilla panchayat regarding-- Education, Health care, Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries.
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