Mumbai, May 26 (IANS) Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar on Wednesday shot off a lengthy letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, taking umbrage at the series of decisions by recently-appointed Administrator of Lakshadweep Islands Praful K. Patel since he took over in December 2020.
Drawing the PM’s attention to the issues raised by Lakshadweep Lok Sabha MP Mohammed Faizal, Pawar expressed apprehensions that the new policies of the Administrator could disrupt the native community’s way of life and demanded that these should be rescinded.
Patel, a former Gujarat Home Minister, first shot into the limelight after the Mohan Delkar, the Lok Sabha MP of Union Territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli & Daman and Diu, committed suicide in a Mumbai hotel on February 22 and the Maharashtra police had booked the UT Administrator in March.
Discussing various points raised by Faizal in his five-page letter, Pawar started with the new SOPs on Covid-19, which have served to catapult cases on the islands which were insulated from the scourge till January.
He also flagged the new liquor policy on the dry islands, noting that the only UT which has banned sale or consumption of alcohol is now allowing bars in government-owned hotels in Kavaratti, Kadamath and Minicoy isles besides the shocking decision of allowing liquor on passenger ships in the guise of promoting tourism.
The NCP chief said the Administrator has brought in a stringent Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Act to the area which has had the lowest crime rate in the country and it infringes upon the constitutional rights of the people on the isles.
Pawar highlighted the instances of sackings on the island with the new Administrator’s acts pertaining to the Tourism Department, sports, aanganwadis, marine protection watchers, demolishing fishing sheds, shutting dairy farms to bring in private players, and on revising government tender guidelines which had made it difficult for locals to participate in the tendering processes, and will ultimately lead to further unemployment.
He also came down on the series of measures of the Administrator by amendments to the constitution of Panchayats, cooperative societies, etc without consultation with the people or their elected representatives, Pandaram land rights, permitting mining, quarrying and building big roads in the name of development leaving the possibility for exploitation by corporates, takeover of lands of ST, besides endangering the local sensitive ecology.
The NCP leader highlighted how the notification for selection of Group B non-gazetted and Group C in all-India levels will reduce the chances of locals getting government jobs, and the “unscientific development plan” which calls for widening of link roads or building new hospitals by demolishing homes or shops for “unnecessary” development by causing distress to locals, etc.
He urged the PM and Shah to re-examine the new Administrator’s orders and direct that the “unreasonable and unwarranted” ones are rolled back, as requested by the local MP.