Amidst protest over the reforms introduced by the Lakshadweep Administrator Praful Khoda Patel, the Collector of the Islands has justified the new developments, saying that it is aimed at the welfare of the residents.

Addressing media persons in Kochi on Thursday, Lakshadweep Collector S Asker Ali alleged that a “misinformation campaign has been unleashed by vested interests against the Lakshadweep administration’s efforts to bring in reforms and ensuring the future and well -being of the people.”

The administration, he said, intends to transform Lakshadweep into a region for tourism-related activities by providing more facilities to tourists. He justified the decision to lift the liquor ban, saying it was intended to promote tourism. However, liquor availability will be restricted to the tourism industry.

Likewise, the connectivity established with the New Mangaluru Port will be more beneficial for the people in the island, he said adding that plans are also afoot to set up a modern school at Kavaratti. New hospitals are being set up at Kavaratti, Minicoy and Agatti and steps will be taken to improve the internet connectivity through the submarine optical fibre cable network. The Agatti airport is being modernised, he added.

‘Boost to fishing’

On the decision to ban beef in mid-day meal of school children, the Collector clarified it was due to the shortage. Instead, the food items available in the local market such as fish and eggs will be included more in the menu. This will boost local fishing in the islands and help local fishermen, he said adding that the sheds of fishermen were removed as part of stopping all illegal encroachments on the seashores.

On invoking Goondas Act, the Collector said strict rules were implemented considering the rising number of criminal cases. There are drug cases and POSCO cases and some residents are even involved in drug trafficking. There are also reports of anti-social activities and there is a need to regulate such crimes.

He cited the instance of seizing 300 cases of heroin and AK 47 rifles worth ₹3,000 crore from the nearby island in Lakshadweep. He denied implementing any rules which bans people who have more than two children from contesting the polls.

According to the Collector, the air service and vehicular traffic was prohibited as part of the Covid prevention efforts and relaxations would be given considering the needs of the people.