Halt Unsustainable Tourism Development in Lakshadweep

Halt Unsustainable Tourism Development in Lakshadweep

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Aditi Chanchani started this petition to Shri Ram Nath Kovind, (The President of the Republic of India) and

Halt Unsustainable Tourism Development in Lakshadweep

On 31st July, 2021, the Lakshadweep Administration invited global tenders for building 230 beach villas and 140 water villas in Suheli, Minicoy and Kadmat islands.

Lakshadweep faces severe climate change-related impact on corals, sea grass, and erosion of coastline. Large-scale infrastructural development will have irrecoverable ecological and social impact. The developers even seem to have been excused from a minimum obligation of providing local employment to the tune of 70-75%, which was stated in all documents submitted to the government for clearances. However, the Draft Concession Agreement makes only a passing mention of the Developers Obligations, “The Concessionaire shall make necessary efforts to employ locals to the extent possible by providing necessary skill training.”

We observe several contentious policy changes, which have been proposed to greenlight the ecotourism projects. The Draft Lakshadweep Tourism Policy, 2020, promises, “Ensuring upfront clearances by the Lakshadweep Administration will be the hallmark of these projects.” All clearances required for the projects prior to the construction have already been granted upfront, ignoring the safeguards hitherto built in.

The National Coastal Zone Management Authority recommended development of water villas be strictly on a pilot project basis. The Administration in consultation with the Sub-Committee of the National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management constituted to review the Coastal Zone Management Plan /Integrated Island Management Plan was expected to select the island/site best suited for the first pilot project. Extension to other islands would be based on the pilot experience. Dismissing these decisions, the Administration has called for bids for all three locations.

The Public Trust Doctrine calls on the Government to protect resources as trustees of general public, and not privilege private ownership or commercial purpose. We petition for the tourism trajectory of the Lakshadweep Islands to be on principles of sustainable and responsible tourism with the following minimum requirements

a. Adhere to principles of sustainability in Draft Lakshadweep Tourism Policy 2020, United Nations SDGs and Marine Protection Goals under the Convention on Biological Diversity. Adhere to Sustainable Tourism Criteria of India, Global Sustainable Tourism Council’s criteria for Destinations and Industry & World Travel and Tourism Council’s Destination Stewardship framework.

b. Follow recommendations of Justice Raveendran Committee appointed by the Honourable Supreme Court 2012

c. Place documents in the public domain - in particular the Integrated Island Management Plan and the Tourism Carrying Capacity studies that should inform tourism planning and regulation on the Islands

d. Evolve a participatory tourism model with public consultations, keeping in mind livelihood, culture and ethos, current land use, ocean practices and environmental stewardship by local communities.

e. Start with a small pilot project on one island to enable a socio-cultural, economically viable, ecological feasibility based on sustainable impact study, instead of proposed full-scale invasive development model. The pilot project should work with capacity of maximum 10 units (keys).

f. Revisit business model and investment assumptions. Niti Aayog has pushed for Maldivian model/smart city model for the islands acknowledged by many tourism experts as faulty, and has little evidence or research basis.

We make these petitions and request also in the backdrop of some very serious concerns about policy, legal and procedural lacunae.

Lakshadweep Tourism Petition (Detailed)

Image Credit: "Agatti Island, Lakshadweep" by swiss.frog is licensed with CC BY-NC 2.0.

0 have signed. Let’s get to 15,000!
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