Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Seal of LakshadweepImage via Wikipedia

Area : 32 sq km Population : 6 0 , 6 5 0
Capital : K a v a r a t t i 
Principal Language : Jeseri (Dweep Bhasha) and Mahal
Not much is known of the early history of these islands. 
The islands supposed to
have been inhabited first are Amini, Andrott, Kavaratti and Agatti.
It was earlier
believed that the islanders were originally Hindus and later converted to Islam under
the influence of Arab traders sometime in the 14th century. But Archaeological
evidences unearthed indicate that there were Buddhist settlements around the 6th or
7th century. Earliest Muslim converts or settlers pre-date the year 139 AH of the Hijra
year (eighth century) of which period grave stones have recently been discovered in
Agatti. This would tend to bear out the traditional belief that Islam was brought to the
Island by Arab Saint, Ubaidulla in 41 AH.
Probably independent till 16th century the Islands were driven to seek the
assistance of Raja of Chirakal to help them avert establishment of Protuguese
domination. This enabled him to establish his authority and, later, the islands were
transferred in jaggeer to Ali Raja, head of Moplah community in Cannanore, who
later became an independent ruler himself. The Arakkal rule was not popular and in
1787, Tipu Sultan acceded to the petitions of the Northern islands to annex these
islands. After the fall of Tipu Sultan, the Islands were passed to East India Company
but continued to be ruled de facto by the rulers of Cannanore till their ultimate
annexation by the British in the early 20th century. In 1956, the islands were constituted
into a single territory, and since then, have been directly administered by the Union
Government through an Administrator. The Laccadives, Minicoy and Amindivi group
of islands were renamed as Lakshadweep in 1973. Lakshadweep, a group of coral
islands consist of 12 atolls, three reefs and submerged sand banks. Of the 27 islands,
only 11 are inhabited. These lie scattered in the Arabian Sea about 280 km to 480 km
off Kerala coast between 8o and 12o 3’ North Latitude and 71o and 74o East Longitude.
Coconut is the only major crop with a production of 580 lakh nuts per year.
The area
under cultivation is about 2,598 hectares. Lakshadweep coconut is branded as an
organic product. In India, Lakshadweep stands first in coconut production and
productivity per hector is 22,310 per hector and average yield per palm per year is 97
nuts. The Lakshadweep coconuts are the highest oil content nuts in the world (72 per
Fishing is another major activity. The sea around the island is highly productive. The
islands stand first in the country in per capita availability of fish. During 2009,
11,751 tonnes of fish have been landed in this U.T.
Coconut fibre extraction and conversion into fibre products is the main industry in
the islands. Under Government Sector, there are seven coir fibre factories, five coir
production cum demonstration centres and seven fibre curling units, functioning
under coir sector. These units produced coir fibre and coir yarn in addition to other
coir products like curled fibre, corridor mat, mat and mattings. A few coir twisting
unit also function in private sector.
At present M.V. Kavaratti, M.V. Tipu Sultan, M.V. Bharat Seema, M.V. Minicoy, M.V.
Amindivi and M.V. Dweep Setu are operating in the mainland-island sector. From
2008-09 onwards three 150 passenger high speed vessels HSC Valiyapani HSC
Cheriyapani and HSC Parali are doing service in Andrott/Kochi/Beypore sector as
well as in Minicoy-Kavaratti Sectors. The other inter island ferries M.V. Khadeeja
Beevi, M.V. Hameedath Bee, HSC Viringili, HSC Blue Marlin, HSC Black Marlin and
HSC Skipjack provide connectivity between the islands except Minicoy and Bitra
and Kavaratti. The Cargo traffic in this sector are handled with four cargo largest,
namely M.V. Ubaidulla, M.V. Thinnakara, M.V. Laccadives and M.V. Cheriyam. Further
one oil barge M.V. Sukheli (60 MT) is being utilized for providing bunker to winter-
Island ferries at Kavaratti. Two 10 Ton Bullard Tugs are also in operation for assisting
berthing of smaller ships at Andrott breakwarer as well as for providing bunker for
the speed vessels in the absence of Oil Barges at Andrott and Minicoy. Besides, the
administration operates two helicopters for evacutation of serious patients from the
islands to Kavaratti as well as to mainland. The second helicopter is used for meeting
the requirement of emergency law and order situation and for inter-island connectivity
during monsoon season. Helicopter connectivity between Kavaratti and Agatti/
Bangaram is also provided for the passengers and tourists availing Indian Airlines
and Kingfisher Airlines in Agatti-Kochi sector.
The 15 years Perspective Plan for shipping requirements in UTL are approved
by Ministry of Shipping in December 2000. Among the 18 new ships recommended
by the above plan, three 150 passenger high speed crafts and two 10 Ton Bullard
Tugs have already been procured and inducted into service. One 15 passenger and
three 50 passenger high speed vessels were also sanctioned by Government of India
under PMGSY which has already been procured and inducted into service. Two 250
passenger cum 100 MT cargo ships are being constructed at Colombo Dockyard,
Srilanka. The first ship is to be delivered in December 2009 and the second ship in
June 2010. Six 200 passenger landing Barges are also being constructed at Vipul
Shipyard, Goa, Apart from the above vessels, two landing Barges, one Oil Barge and
one LPG Ships are also recommended by the committee for which tenders are being
finalized by SCI. Proposal has also been submitted to Ministry of Shipping for approval
of EFC for acquisition of one 400 passenger ship.
Tourism is developing into an important industry. Important tourist places are Agatti,
Bangaram, Kalpeni, Kadmat, Kavaratti and Minicoy, etc. 13,115 tourists visited this
year 2008-09 of which 2,852 are foreign tourists.
Administrator : J.K. Dadoo, IAS
Jurisdiction of High Court : Falls under jurisdiction of Kerala High Court
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