AgencyLAKSHADWEEP : A group of 93 former civil servants wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday, expressing “deep concern” over what they called were “disturbing developments” in the Union territory of Lakshadweep in the name of “development”.They have urged the prime minister to ensure an appropriate development model, in consultation with the islanders with emphasis on access to safe and secure health care, education and just governance among others.Asserting that Lakshadweep occupies a unique place in India’s geographic and cultural diversity, the group highlighted drafts of three regulations introduced by P.K. Patel after assuming additional charge of administrator of Lakshadweep in December 2020. Patel is also the administrator of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu.Since taking charge, he has introduced drafts of the Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation (LDAR), the Lakshadweep Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Regulation (commonly known as PASA or the Goonda Act elsewhere), and the Lakshadweep Animal Preservation Regulation (LAPR), as well as an amendment to the Lakshadweep Panchayat Regulations that have generated widespread anxiety on the island and the nation at large, they have said in the letter.“These drafts have been introduced without local consultation and are presently with the Ministry of Home Affairs, government of India, for necessary approvals,” said the letter written by former civil servants under the aegis of Constitutional Conduct Group (CCG).A copy of the letter has been shared with Home Minister Amit Shah and Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Prakash Javadekar. Claiming that there has been no development in Lakshadweep for the past 70 years, the LDAR reflects a model of land and tourism development that includes resorts, hotels and beach fronts on the ‘Maldives model’ unmindful of the differences between the two island groups in size, population, number of islands and their spread, it said.“We write to you today to register our deep concern over disturbing developments taking place in the pristine Union Territory (UT) of Lakshadweep in the name of ‘development’,” the letter said.Former National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon, former Prasar Bharati CEO Jawhar Sircar, ex-Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh, former Adviser to prime minister T K A Nair and former Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah are among the 93 signatories.Lakshadweep is an ecologically sensitive coral archipelago located off the Malabar coast consisting of 36 islands (of which 10 are inhabited and one developed as a tourist resort) spread out over 32 sq. kms. in the Indian Ocean, with a Muslim majority population of around 65,000 that is matrilineal, largely egalitarian, and ethnically close to Kerala, from where it was ruled through much of its history, it said.
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