The “Chalo Lakshadweep” call on Indian social media amid a stand-off with Maldives over tourism may not even get off the ground given multiple constraints, including the lack of direct flights and the minuscule number — 150 — of hotel rooms. Even if it does, the tourist inflow has to be controlled in view of the fragile ecology of the island that has been propped up by a rulebook that lays down the number of tourists the islands can contain each day, Mohammad Faizal, the MP from Lakshadweep, told NDTV.
Lakshadweep, being made of coral, is “very sensitive and ecologically very fragile,” Mr Faizal said.
This is why, the Supreme Court appointed Justice Ravindran Commision has come up with an “integrated Island management plan”.
This is the “bible for development,” which is consulted before roads, jetties or other infrastructure projects can be taken up.
This “widely accepted” plan of the commission also suggests the “carrying capacity” of the islands and the number of tourists they can have, he said.
In view of this, Lakshadweep at this time is looking at “high-end controlled tourism,” he said, where the union territory plans to raise maximum revenue from very controlled tourism. The tourists who come in also have to give “consent towards environment,” he added.
Only 10 of Lakshadweep’s 36 islands are inhabited. Currently only 8-10 per cent of Lakshadweep’s population depends on tourism. The islands were not on the list of many people either. But with the row with Maldives, many on social media are declaring that Laskshadweep will be their next destination.
The diplomatic row started as Maldivian ministers made derogatory comments following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s widely circulated post about his visit to the Lakshadweep islands.
Three Maldivian ministers were sacked and the country’s Opposition criticised the comments. But Maldivian President Mohamed Muizzu was defiant and it gave a fresh boost to the country’s ties with China.
Today the Maldives President gave a deadline to India to withdraw its troops from the island nation. The Indian military personnel should leave the nation by March 15, he said.