Tourists on Lakshadweep from 1st February
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Lakshadweep earlier this month was not expected to generate such controversy. This soured the relations between India and its neighboring countries. Also promoting Florida’s interest in the small group of islands in India. However, the environment associated with it is a cause of concern among wildlife and local people.
As a result, people wanted to gather so much information about Lakshadweep, which was never searched in large numbers on Google, that it became one of the most searched places last week. India’s largest online travel company MakeMyTrip said that after Modi’s visit, there was a 3400 percent increase in people searching for Lakshadweep on its platform.
Some experts say that Lakshadweep, famous for its beautiful beaches and islands and clear blue water, cannot be turned into a big tourist area like Maldives, because it is small in size and the ecology here is also delicate. Many local people also say that they want a responsible tourism system here, of which they too can be a part. His wish is that large-scale development schemes should not come here, which will turn the lives of common people upside down.
According to a government website, “The main employment of the people here is fishing, coconut cultivation and making goods from coconut fiber peel (coir).” This website describes tourism as an emerging industry here.
Lakshadweep Administrator Praful Patel, who faced opposition from the local people a few years ago due to his controversial policies, has welcomed the growing interest of the people in this area. Tata Group has announced that it will build two islands of Lakshadweep by the year 2026.
Is going to build a ‘world class’ resort. There are a total of 36 islands in this archipelago but only 10 are inhabited by people. The only airline company to Lakshadweep has also started additional flights.
Before the introduction of additional flights, there were only two ways to reach Lakshadweep. The 72-seater aircraft, operated by Alliance Air, is the only daily flight from Kochi in Kerala to the airport at Agatti Island in Lakshadweep, and from Kochi by ship, which takes four days after entry into Lakshadweep. For this, a permit also has to be taken from the administration.
PP Mohammad Faizal, the sole NCP MP representing Lakshadweep’s population of 70,000 people, says, “Transport, accommodation and ground infrastructure are the biggest obstacles.”
He says, “Bangaram Island, where PM Modi stayed, has only 36 rooms for tourists to stay.” At present, most of the tourism in this island is operated through cruise ships. Tourists visit the island by ships during the day and return to their cruise ships to spend the night.
In contrast, there are hundreds of options for tourists to stay in Maldives including resorts, hotels and guesthouses. Faizal says, “What Maldives has, we can achieve in Lakshadweep through beaches, underwater sports but in terms of infrastructure, we still have miles to go.”
He says that before any kind of development can be carried out, it is necessary to resolve the differences between the administration and the common people living here.
96 percent of the population of Lakshadweep is Muslim and after the appointment of former Bharatiya Janata Party leader Praful Patel as its administrator in the year 2021, there was a situation of tension here.
Prafulla Patel took many controversial decisions like removing meat from school menus and proposing a law that would strengthen the administration’s control over the island.
The BBC emailed several questions to Praful Patel’s office, the Collector of Lakshadweep and the Department of Tourism and Information there, but we have not yet received a reply. In some interviews, Praful Patel defended his administration’s policies, saying The only objective was ‘development of Lakshadweep’.
Altaf Hussain, who runs a travel agency on Agatti Island, says that after PM Modi’s visit, the inquiries from prospective tourists have increased by 30 to 40 percent.
Hussain, who wants to build his own resort on Agatti in future, says that the local people here should get opportunities and not it should go into the hands of big business groups.
He says, “With the coming of these projects, we may get small jobs but we do not want this. We want ownership rights in these projects and not just to remain as workers who contribute.”