The Lakshadweep administration is developing high-end tourist facilities on several islands in the Union Territory, which saw widespread protest last year against a proposed settlement aimed at developing the area as a destination tourist attraction, the Center informed. Parliament recently.
“The Lakshadweep administration has informed that it is engaged in the development of sustainable ecotourism projects at Kadmat, Minicoy and Suheli Islands under the umbrella of NITI Aayog,” the Minister of Tourism and Culture said. ‘Union, G Kishan Reddy, in a written reply to the Lok Sabha. August 8.
“They are also developing high-end tourist resort facilities in Kavaratti, Agatti and Bangaram island groups as a priority and aim to enhance water sports activities in various tourist islands to meet the demands of tourists visiting these islands,” added the minister. .
The minister was responding to a series of questions from two Janata Dal (United) MPs Kaushalendra Kumar and Rajiv Ranjan Singh, better known as Lalan Singh.
“To promote scuba diving and position Lakshadweep as a prime location for scuba diving on the world map, they (UT administration) are developing scuba diving centers in Kavaratti Islands, Kalpeni, Minicoy , Kadmat and Bangaram. The administration of Lakshadweep has taken steps for the development of the islands through public-private participation,” Reddy said.
On whether the government is proposing to develop the island of Cherium by giving it tourism industry status, the Minister said: “The Lakshadweep administration has informed that they have started a process to develop a project ecotourism in various islands with tourism potential in which Cheriyam Island is also included.”
Emphasizing that the country’s coastline, including the Lakshadweep region, has enormous potential to develop cruise tourism, both international and domestic, the Union Minister added, “To harness this, a task force was constituted with the Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism as Chairman. and Secretary, Department of Shipping as Co-Chair.
The Center also informed that the UT administration has initiated the process of expanding Agatti Airport to facilitate the operation of larger aircraft. Currently, only ATR-72 aircraft can operate from Agatti. “Approval in principle for the development of a new civil-military dual-use airport at Minicoy has been given by the Ministry of Defence,” the ministry said in its response.
In June last year, a group of 60 scientists and researchers petitioned President Ram Nath Kovind to withdraw the draft Lakshadweep Development Authority (LDAR) Regulations 2021, pointing out that the geography, ecology and the region’s unique long human history impose natural limits on the kind of development the archipelago can sustain.
Some of the LDAR 2021 measures proposed for the removal or relocation of islanders from their property for urban planning. The researchers said the proposed settlement designed to boost tourism was in direct conflict with the rights of local people to land, livelihoods and healthy ecosystems.
“The LDAR 2021 has not been approved yet. But we have a real policy for the development of tourism in the islands. Recently, we gave work orders to one of the largest hotel companies for the development of the Kadmat Islands and Suheli,” said S Asker Ali, secretary of the sports and youth department, who is currently on leave from his post and will join the Daman administration next month.
“We have a carrying capacity concept for each island. We are not going to throw tourists there. This is why we promote high-end tourism here. In addition, we have to take the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) authorization from the Ministry of the Environment, which will put a lot of conditions on these projects.
Tourism development will help generate funds for coral regeneration and raise awareness for coral protection, Ali said. “As of today, no study says we cannot do tourism here. We are also very concerned about the ecology here and the environment of Lakshadweep is the face of tourism for these islands.
The Nature Conservation Foundation’s Oceans and Coasts Program reports in 2018 of two decades of monitoring coral reefs in the Lakshadweep Archipelago showed that UT’s reefs have been damaged on a large scale due to climate change over the past few decades. last 20 years.
“Lakshadweep’s main fragility is climate change, which is currently threatening the resilience of its coral reefs, the structural integrity of the atoll itself, and therefore the habitability of the islands and its inhabitants. Our team has tracked these changes over the past 25 years and documented a systematic decline in reef function over these decades due to climate change,” said Rohan Arthur, Scientist, Oceans and Coasts with NCF. “Our most recent work has shown dramatic consequences for the accretion potential of these reefs – something that could have dire consequences for the future of these islands.”
Any development at Lakshadweep must operate within the safe operating space determined by reef decline and future climate change, the scientist added. “Any development that threatens this fragile resilience will further add to the grave danger these islands are already in. Unbridled tourism is straining the Lakshadweep system in terms of freshwater consumption, energy, habitat destruction (for build tourism infrastructure, etc.) that the islands cannot sustain… The current plans represent a failure of the imagination that could prove unwise for the future of the island and its citizens,” he said. -he adds.