New Delhi- Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Thursday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to ensure that the “anti-people policies” announced by Lakshadweep administrator Praful Khoda Patel are withdrawn.
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 the neighbouring state of Kerala.
In the letter to the Prime Minister, Gandhi said the administrator has unilaterally proposed sweeping changes without duly consulting elected representatives or the public, and the people are protesting against the arbitrary actions.
“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.
The Congress leader said Patel’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,” he noted.
Gandhi further said that the provision in the draft Panchayat Regulation that disqualifies members with more than two children is blatantly anti-democratic, and said the proposed changes to regulations by Patel like Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Regulation, the Lakshadweep Animals Preservation Regulation and lifting of restrictions on the 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,” he said and added that despite the 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,” Gandhi said.
“I request you to intervene in this matter and ensure that the above-mentioned orders are withdrawn. The people of Lakshadweep deserve a developmental vision that respects their way of life and reflects their aspirations,” he added.
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