1. Beloved citizens of Lakshadweep, Hon’ble Member of Parliament, Shri. Hamdulla Sayeed, President-cum-Chief Counsellor Shri. A. Jalaluddin Koya, Vice President-cum- Counsellor, Shri. Muthukoya and Shri. Badarul Muneer.M.P, Chairperson of Village Dweep Panchayat, Kavaratti, Shri. Achada Ahamed Haji, Members of the District Panchayat and the Village Dweep Panchayat(s), Heads of Departments, Government Officials, Ladies and Gentlemen and Dear Children.
Shri. Amar Nath, IAS
U.T. of Lakshadweep
2. My heartiest felicitations to the people of Lakshadweep on the auspicious occasion of 64th anniversary of Independence Day! Let us recall the contribution of the freedom fighters and martyrs who laid down their lives for the sake of the Independence and sovereignty of our nation. Their sacrifices brought us freedom and an opportunity to live and work with our heads held high. Let us also thank our uniformed services for their role in maintaining peace and integrity of the nation.
3. I urge every member of every Panchayat, the officials and common man to resolve to translate our hard won freedom into true freedom for all. Let us resolve to create an environment in which the creativity and enterprise of our people can find its full and free expression.
4. It was because of the whole hearted efforts of UTL Administration that the whole plan budget of Lakshadweep was utilized last year for the development of the islands. Due to this achievement, our Plan outlay has been significantly increased to ` 389 crores by the UnionGovernment this year. This will ensure sufficient availability of funds for overall development including the major sectors of Shipping, Public Works, Education & Fisheries. Besides the availability of funds, it should be our common and collective endeavour to ensure that the benefits of development reach to the poorest of poor on the islands; and it is also essential that the delivery system of the administration at all levels is more efficient and display a will for inclusive growth.
5. Shipping is the life line of Lakshadweep Islands. We are aware of the challenges and difficulties being faced by citizens due to the remote location of the islands. We have to depend on mainland for all our supplies of food grains, vegetables, building material, oil & LPG. To meet the requirements, the Administration has been consistently making efforts; and I am happy to announce that two 400 passenger ships have been ordered to be constructed in Colombo Shipyard, which will sail in 28 months, Insha Allah. We have been able to ensure availability of sufficient ship tickets for passengers and the emphasis is now on increasing the frequency of ships. We intend to procure some very high speed vessels in near future so that the mainland can be approached in around 6 hours of time.
6. We have requested the Ministry of Shipping to approve two 800 MT Cargo Ships for smooth movements of cargo. The efforts to procure a 2000 LPG Cylinder carrier have already been made and it is soon going to be reality. This will make the life of womenfolk easier in terms of cooking requirements. Our long cherished dreams of assured electricity supply, availability of fuel for domestic purposes, boats and vehicles shall soon come true with the expected arrival of an 150MT Oil Barge by the next year. By this year end, we are also expected to have a berth exclusively dedicated for the service of people of Lakshadweep at Kochi.
7. I have personally experienced the trouble of embarkation and disembarkation in Kavaratti and I can imagine the problems faced by women, children, old people and patients. Therefore the improvement of berthing head of Katchery jetty & cargo jetty at Kavaratti are in progress. Once completed the embarkation-disembarkation and unloading can become easier and reduce delay.
8. Education is a vital instrument for social and economic change. Equality of opportunity in securing Education is the best and the most durable means of social empowerment & social justice. Every child must have reasonable assurance of access to modern Education and acquisition of requisite skills. Education up to senior secondary level is now available in all the islands except Bitra. Lakshadweep is at the second position in the country with regards to literacy.
9. From this Academic year, MSc. Aqua culture has also been started at Calicut University Centre Andrott. Commerce group has been introduced in Amini and Minicoy Senior Secondary Schools. To ensure availability of regular & effective teaching, 102 posts were filled up on regular basis in the last academic session. In addition, 124 PGT,33 PST,11 TGT have also been appointed on contract basis.
10. The Department of Education has sponsored six candidates from Lakshadweep for one year civil service coaching to Jamia Hamdard University, Delhi.
11. Multi Media Laboratories are being set up in Schools. They shall make learning process effective, innovative and interesting. Quality Education for all should be our guiding principle.
12. Equal emphasis needs to be given to Sports activities so that our youth learn the values of team spirit and achievements while enjoying the games. The administration is committed to provide adequate sports infrastructure in all the islands. The Health cum Fitness Centers at Andrott & Amini, the Multipurpose Indoor Sports Hall at Kalpeni have already started functioning. Indoor Sports Hall at Amini & Minicoy are also on the anvil.
13. One of the challenges, which faces us in the education sector is, the improvement in the quality of education. We need to equip our students to compete not only at national level but internationally also. The Education Department is going to prepare a strategy to improve the quality of education in Lakshadweep in next three months in consultation with various stakeholders. The Administration expects the cooperation of all especially parents to improve the quality of our education system.
14. Our islands have enormous potential for development of Tourism. It is an opportunity for us to generate employment and boost economic growth in our islands. Despite challenges, we intend to facilitate growth of Tourism by capacity building in terms of infrastructure, skill development & quality of service. A new Tourism policy is being formulated in which participation of local entrepreneurs shall be paramount. Promotion of home tourism is being envisaged. Alternative modes of accommodation for Tourists are being explored. Tourist cottages are being constructed in the major islands. Skill Development training in hospitality sector is to be promoted. Around 80 seats for Degree and Diploma in Hospitality and Hotel management have been allotted for the candidates from Lakshadweep in the Institute of Hospitality Management, Trivandrum. With the large scale opportunities and simultaneous skill development, the employed youth of islands will become the agents of growth.
15. The Administration in the Union Territory has been playing a pivotal role in enabling the Panchayats by devolution of powers and resources to them, to be effective instruments of social and economic development. The Administration, in four phases has transferred a number of schemes coming under their functional domain. The Administration has also tried to build capacity for the Panchayats with adequate resources including the manpower and their training. Not only the Panchayats in Lakshadweep are sufficiently empowered to play an important role in the socio economic development of the territory but also they are successfully and effectively performing their duty in realizing the dream of local self government. The role of Gram Sabha in decision making is required to be enhanced.
16. The Administration is committed to provide IT infrastructure with broadband facilities and trained manpower for all the Panchayats. Action is also on hand to train the Panchayat functionaries in basic computer skills, for which the Department of Information Technology is taking steps.
17. The Capacity Building and training programmes for elected representatives and functionaries are being conducted every year with the help of Kerala Institute of Local Administration. The District Panchayat and Village (Dweep) Panchayats members have already been given training and the next programme is proposed soon after the monsoon.
18. The District Panchayat is also implementing the programmes transferred from different departments including Primary Education, Adult Education, Financial Assistance to Local entrepreneurs, Social Forestry etc. To ensure employment opportunity to all poor villagers, the flagship scheme of Government of India i.e Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act is being implemented by the District Panchayat and VDP’s. A record 1.73 lakhs mandays were generated by spending approx ` 3 crores. The problem of unemployment in the unskilled category can be handled effectively by this scheme and we should make concreted efforts to achieve the targets.
19. Even today, most of the households in Lakshadweep get their drinking water from the open wells. Water supply scheme adopted in our islands is a combination of fresh groundwater, rain water harvesting and water produced from the Desalination Plant. The success story of NIOT plants have ensured safe & pure drinking water in some of the islands. As we all know, the Administration has already proposed similar plants in all the remaining islands so that people from all the islands are able to have access to the safe drinking water. The approval from Ministry is expected shortly.
20. To augment the supply from rain water, Installation of 5000 lit capacity Rain water harvesting Syntax tanks is under progress in all the islands. It shall make more water available for domestic consumption.
21. Bitra is the remotest and the smallest island of Lakshadweep. Ground water availability in Bitra is not as per requirement. Presently water supply is being managed through the rainwater harvesting system. The Administration proposes to provide safe drinking water to Bitra either by RO technology of NIOT or the Solar Thermal Desalination Plant through MNRE.
22. With the development of islands, the requirement of Power is going to increase substantially. Though it is a sign of development but in respect of our islands, where we depend on fossil fuels, we should make judicious use of electricity and should depend on alternative sources of Electricity. To meet the additional power requirements, procurement and augmentation of Diesel Generator capacity in Minicoy, Amini, Agatti and Chetlat is in progress. It shall make standby DG sets available and uninterrupted power supply can be ensured even in case of failure. To make the distribution system safe, we plan to procure and install street boxes and pole mounted Distribution Boxes. The augmentation, renovation and Operation & Maintenance for 2 MW solar electricity generation capacity is under progress.
23. To encourage the use of alternative sources of energy, solar lanterns were procured and handed over to Village Dweep Panchayats in all the islands for distribution among beneficiaries and there is a great demand for the same. Solar street lights, Solar water heaters are also being installed to promote the use of clean solar energy.
24. We all know the importance of Health Care because the Healthy mind lives in a healthy body. Health Services in Lakshadweep have made remarkable progress. Provision of specialized health services within the islands consistently has been a challenge. Now Rajiv Gandhi Speciality Hospital has started functioning at Agatti. I hope in near future all essential specialist treatments will be available for all islanders at Agatti reducing the difficulty of evacuation and the economic costs to the poor residents of Lakshadweep. We will continue to focus on providing good quality healthcare in our CHCs and PHCs.
25. In an Eye Camp conducted at Indira Gandhi Hospital, Kavaratti, a record number of 160 patients were implanted Intra Ocular Lens (IOL). We have achieved 100% immunization of children in this year. A Mega Health Mela was conducted in Agatti by bringing specialists and super specialists from mainland. Health Camps are conducted in islands by bringing specialists from mainland which helps in meeting the need of specialist treatment to an extent.
26. The department has re-imbursed ` 80 lakhs during this year for 239 patients under BPL category for specialized treatment at mainland. Action is on hand to establish a well equipped Blood bank at Indira Gandhi Hospital, Kavaratti which shall satisfy the blood requirement for patients locally.
27. Fisheries is the main occupation of most of the islanders and a Promising Sector for future economy of Lakshadweep. “MOTHER VESSEL”, which is a big sized vessel to catch fish in the deep sea while retaining its freshness and purity, will be first of its kind in the country. This is the long cherished dream of Lakshadweep. It shall enable us to boost the fish catch from deep seas, satisfy the demand for fish from within the islands, generate more employment and even to export the extra catch to the mainland, thus boosting our income. It is hoped that this dream shall soon come true.
28. We have also proposed to procure and deploy two long liners additionally. With these, we will be able to increase the catch of deep sea tuna (Yellowfin tuna) significantly. The Distress Alert Transmitter (DAT) are to be supplied to all fishing boats to ensure speedy rescue operation. Our fishermen are being given subsidy for construction and repair of fishing boats, waiver on overhead charges on diesel, non PDS kerosene and departmental charges on fisheries requisites. Three Ice Plants and Cold Storages already procured, shall add to the existing preservation facilities. The Department has started deployment of subsurface Fish Aggregating Device (FAD) independently. A huge subsurface Fish Aggregating Devices is planned to be deployed at Kavaratti.
29. Science popularization and promotion of Scientific temper is one of the major activities of the Department of Science and Technology. The Planetarium at Kavaratti is a major attraction for children and adults equally. Tourist have also appreciated the Planetarium.
30. Sanitation and disposal of sewage has been a challenge for our islands. Based on the successful trials, Lakshadweep Administration has decided to install 12000 Nos. of Biodigesters for all houses in Lakshadweep. Our recommendation has been sent to the Ministry and we are waiting for approval. Once implemented it will be a panacea to prevent ground water contamination and related health hazards.
31. I am very happy to declare that coconut from KAVARATTI, KALPENI & MINICOY have recently got organic certification and entered in the world map of “ORGANIC” products. We expect more income and good market price for our Coconuts and its Value added products. This is a milestone in the history of Lakshadweep. During this year, we have given more emphasis to bring the entire UT under the “ORGANIC” banner.
32. All the Coconut climbers will be insured under the Coconut Climbers Accidental Insurance Policy during this year also. The Free distribution of Fruit plants, vegetable seeds and other saplings to all households will also be done at free of cost. It is expected to boost the Horticultural Development in the islands. Maximum Sea Shore area in all the islands will be covered to protect our Sea shore by plantation of local littoral species and Casurina.
33. The consistent efforts of Administration have resulted in ensuring sufficient availability of food grains before the onset of monsoon. We have already lifted, transported and stored in our Rice Godowns more than 5900 MT rice allocated for Public Distribution. We have also lifted the whole quantity of 1402 MT of sugar allocated to us through Food Corporation of India. This stock will be sufficient up to December 2011. Kerosene Oil required for the people for Cooking and lighting has also been procured and stored well in advance, which will also last well beyond the Monsoon season.
34. The newly constructed FCI Godown at Androth Island is going to be operational very soon. We have also requested FCI to construct another 2500 MT godown in the northern group of islands. We have been allocated kerosene under non-PDS for supply to the fishermen. The long pending problem of fishermen using out board engines will be mitigated to a greater extent soon.
35. The Service Co-operative Society, Kavaratti also received the best co-operative society award instituted by National Cooperative Development Council .The production of copra is a Cottage industry in Lakshadweep. LCMF ensures the availability of market for the copra. More than 1800 MT of Copra worth almost ` 12 crores was marketed during season 2010-2011 through the Cooperative supply and marketing societies and LCMF. This brings good revenue for the local farmers.
36. Pension to Old, Widows , Disabled & Destitute is being given @ ` 500/- per month to 1744 persons through District Panchayat. Lady bird bicycles have been supplied to more than 100 girl students studying in Xth and XIth standards, from BPL families. The provision of Assistive Devices for handicapped persons is being done through State Health Society.
37. To give an Exposure to Self help Group Members, the State Social Welfare Board organized six days exposure visit to Kudumbashree Units in Kerala. The objective of the visit was to learn functioning, welfare activities and implementation process of self help groups. 85 women representatives from 35 groups attended the programme.
38. While we are providing Education, it is also necessary that effective skills are learnt by our youth. Career Guidance and soft skills training Classes were conducted for all students of 12th standard in 9 islands. Computer Training has been started in Type Writing Training centres in 7 islands after completing their up-gradation. Indian Navy conducted a special recruitment examination at Kavaratti and 23 candidates have qualified in Written Examination as well as Physical Fitness Test.
39. Our islands are one of the most peaceful places in the country where crime rate is negligible. In terms of protection of Human Rights Records, Lakshadweep stands at the top. Some of the piracy in Arabian Sea have made our Naval Forces and Coast Guard alert to avoid such incidences and provide full security to islands. The administration is working in close coordination for regular monitoring with Navy & Coast Guard.
40. Promotion of folk arts and encouragement to local artists is being done through Department of Art & Culture. Quality cultural programmes are organized on a monthly basis to promote national integration and provide recreational opportunities to the people. The Department also provides financial assistance for publication of books to encourage local writers.
41. It is proposed to establish Coconut Desiccated Powder & Oil Extraction Units in Kalpeni, Agatti & Amini in this year. Department has established Handicraft Sale Outlets at Kalpeni and Agatti with the idea of marketing local products mainly to the tourists. Sale Outlets shall also be started at Kadmat and Amini. It shall act as a single point to effectively market all local products and shall be able to provide good returns to artisans. Eighty five (85) local unemployed youth of Agatti, Amini, Kalpeni and Minicoy have been provided one month Handicraft Training for making attractive traditional handicraft items under the self employment programme .
42. Information Technolgoy brings maximum transparency in any system. Connectivity for State wide area network, which is the backbone of e-governance has been established in 7 Islands. Common Service Centers are to be established in all the 10 islands to provide ease of access. Basic Computer Training is being imparted to all Government staff under Lakshadweep administration. To bring transparency and effective use of Public money, e-Tendering system has been introduced. 43 projects have been e-Tendered during last financial year.
43. As I conclude, I express my sincere and heartfelt gratitude to Hon’ble Member of Parliament, PCC, VPCC, Chairpersons and Members of various Village (Dweep) Panchayat, other public representatives, distinguished and committed Officers and above all, to the people of the territory for their support and co-operation extended to the Administration.
44. I wish to assure you on this sacred day that we will work with sincerity and dedication to fulfill the expectation of each and every citizen of this territory. It will be our effort to ensure that every citizen becomes prosperous and is secure and is able to lead a life of dignity and self respect. It will be our endeavour to carry everyone with us and to lead the territory & country ahead on the path of development by creating an environment of consensus and cooperation.
Let us pledge to make Lakshadweep a model territory in the country. I once again convey my wishes to you all on this auspicious day.
May God bless you all.