Amid growing protests against the Lakshadweep administration’s ‘anti-people’ moves, the revenue department there has initiated moves to acquire private property in the islands under the controversial Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation (LDAR).
The department has set up flags demarcating private property that has to be acquired near the Harbour Office, Dak Bungalow and Children’s Park, without the knowledge of the owners concerned.
Lakshadweep Administrator Praful Khoda Patel, currently on a week-long visit to the islands, on Wednesday inspected the places where land would be acquired. Flags demarcating the boundaries were placed ahead of Patel’s visit.
The administrator had earlier expressed displeasure over the slow pace of the planned projects. At a meeting on Monday, Patel pointed out the snail’s pace of the projects he had suggested, and instructed officials to complete them in a time-bound manner.
The landowners said they became aware of the move to acquire their properties only after seeing the flags the revenue department had set up. The acquisition is for an Ayush Hospital and Nursing Centre at Kavaratti.
Administration to privatise Lakshadweep’s power sector
Meanwhile, the Lakshadweep administration is going ahead with its plan to privatise the power sector. An order was issued to commence the tendering process in two weeks.
The administrator held a meeting with senior officials on the privatisation plan on Tuesday. Though the tendering process was slated to begin earlier, it got delayed due to several issues, including the COVID-19 situation.
Patel has assigned the special secretary, executive engineer and two junior engineers to visit Daman for first-hand experience of the power project in that Union territory. Patel is also the administrator of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu.
Lakshadweep currently is dependent on diesel generators for power. The administration has plans to tap green energy, including solar power, to meet the archipelago’s power needs.
Patel ‘splurging’ lakhs
Meanwhile, the administrator “splurging” lakhs of rupees on the pretext of visiting Lakshadweep has come in for criticism.
The criticism was raised after it became public that Patel had hired a Dornier aircraft from the Coast Guard for his current trip to Lakshadweep for Rs 23,21,280.
It was alleged that he splurged money on a chartered aircraft despite having daily flights connecting Agatti with Kochi and the administration’s three air ambulances, which were also used for ferrying VIPs.
Complaint to prime minister
A complaint has been sent to Prime Minister Narendra Modi accusing administrator Praful Khoda Patel of corruption in public works taken up in Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu.
The letter, claimed to be from all officials of the Public Works Department at Silvassa, the headquarters of the Dadra and Nagar Haveli district, and nearby Amli, said there was corruption in the coastal development and construction of roads in Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu.
It was also alleged that the contract for the works was awarded to the benami firm of a relative of the administrator.
Solidarity dharna in Kerala
The Save Lakshadweep Kerala People’s Collective will hold dharnas at Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode on June 21.
The dharnas, scheduled at 10am, are in solidarity with the protests by the people of Lakshadweep.
High Court rejects appeal
A division bench of the Kerala High Court rejected an appeal against the construction of a beach road at Agatti in Lakshadweep. The petition was filed by Kasmi Koya, a local resident, and four others. A single bench had earlier rejected their plea.
(This article was first published on onmanorama)