Amid protests by islanders against several new reforms, the Lakshadweep administration has taken a set of decisions, including deputing government officials onboard local fishing boats for intelligence gathering, news agency PTI reported on Sunday.
The administration also issued a new order on managing cleanliness and hygiene, on Friday, directing the people of the islands to scientifically dispose of coconut shells, tree leaves, coconut husks and tree trunks in and around dwellings and public places.
Lakshadweep MP Mohammed Faizal attacked the administration on its new directives, terming them a “mockery” and urged the authorities to withdraw them immediately.
It was on May 28, at a meeting chaired by the Principal Secretary and Advisor to the Administrator, that it was decided to depute government servants onboard local fishing boats for intelligence gathering.
The meeting also decided to strengthen the security measures to monitor the local fishing boats and crews, intensify checking of passenger boats and vessels reaching the islands and strengthen the ship berthing points and heli-base by installing CCTV cameras.
Mr Faizal questioned the practicality of implementing the order, saying there are hundreds of fishing boats operating from the islands and wondered how many officials are going to be deployed in such vessels.
Noting that a well-established system of surveillance by the Navy and the Coast Guard was already in place in all the islands, the MP said the Coast Guard headquarters in the islands have an effective radar system which can cover activities of any vessels operating within an area of 30 nautical miles.
Mr Faizal said every month or once in three months, the Coast Guard has a regular interaction with the local fishermen to train them on how to report the movement of suspected objects in the seas.
“All this training is given to the fishermen. They are very cooperative with the security agencies. By introducing such a law, what are they (administration) trying to establish?” he asked.
Mr Faizal alleged that the administration’s actions showed that they do not trust the innocent fishermen community of Lakshadweep.
“The recent order, which has come in the way of surveillance on the coastal areas of Lakshadweep, is really a mockery I feel,” he told PTI.
Alleging discrimination, he asked why such surveillance using officials onboard fishing vessels was not happening in coastal states like Gujarat, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
Issuing the order on hygiene and cleanliness, the administration said whoever violates or contravenes any of the directions shall be liable for punishment and fines and criminal proceedings.
Questioning the provision in the order directing scientific disposal of biodegradable materials like coconut leaves, Mr Faizal said the land of Lakshadweep became fertile because the forefathers who lived in the islands buried them in the soil.
He also said it is the responsibility of the administration to provide technology for scientifically managing the waste.
Asked whether he had taken up the matter with the Union Government, Faizal said, “I feel really ashamed of taking up such matters with them.”
Meanwhile, the Congress has decided to step up its agitation against the administration for its “anti-people” reform measures in the islands.
According to party sources, MPs from the Congress-led UDF in Kerala will organise a ”dharna” in front of the territorial administration office in Kochi today.
Expressing solidarity with the people of Lakshadweep, the Kerala Legislative Assembly has unanimously passed a resolution demanding the recall of island administrator Praful Khoda Patel and requesting the Centre’s immediate intervention to protect the lives and livelihood of the islanders.
An archipelago located in the Arabian Sea, Lakshadweep has been witnessing protests by locals over the recent actions and administrative reforms being implemented by Patel.
Defending its action, the Lakshadweep administration has said it was laying the foundation for the future of the islands in a planned way and to develop it on the lines of Maldives in the next two decades.