Lakshadweep-State of Environment

Photo: Prasad
The main occupation of the people here is fishing, coconut cultivation and coir twisting. Tourism is an emerging industry and there is a need to promote tourism such that it is consistent with the rising ecological concerns.

Abstract: Precious and rare, the Lakshadweep group of islands is in urgent need of sustainable developmental activities. Stringent laws and policies will help the state of environment of this fragile lands.

The author is Advisor (Former), Ministry of Earth Sciences, New Delhi.

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What is ...

Aminidivi, of Amini Island, is the oldest socio-ethnic group of Lakshadweep with a population of around 7656 and a highest population density of 2956 per sq km (Census 2011). Proficient in handicrafts the communities here use coral sandstone, found in abundance in the island, to make floral designs on hard coral stones and walking sticks from coconut and tortoise shells.

Koya are the land owning community of the island. Although the majority of ethnic groups in Lakshadweep island are Muslim, yet the social division is based upon three main categories – landowners, sailors and labourers are still palpable.

Malmi are a distinct human community of Lakshadweep. Connoting the term sign of ways, the people of Malmi group are predominantly sailors who work for the Koya in transporting merchandise.

The Melacheri were the original labour class of the islands and formed the major part of the population of the Lakshadweep group of islands. Their traditional occupation is to collect coconut tree nuts and tap neerah-the sweet coconut toddy. It appears that the name has its origin in their traditional place of residence on the western side of the island - mala meaning west, Cheri denoting the name the village.

A very popular water sport in many parts of the world - used widely to view and observe the coral varieties and reef species. The isles of Lakshadweep has limited scuba diving options - mainly at Bangaram, where a resort has been established for the purpose.

An island which comprises of ten exotic villages and a rich biodiversity, with a special affinity to Maldives - with the early settlers hailing from there. Even today the language spoken in Minicoy - Mahl, bears special resemble to the Maldivian tongue of Dhivehi. Endowed with natural scenic beauty, the villages are governed by a strict administrative structure which are led by a Bodukaka (big brother) who represents the menfolk and a Bodudatha (big sister) who represent the women folk of the region.

One of the inhabited islands of Lakshadweep, the Kadmat Island, has a population of 5389 persons (Census 2011). Their language of communication is Malayalam.

The most popular and well developed island in Lakshadweep, Kavaratti is located between the islands of Agatti and Andrott. It has a desalination plant as well as a naval base to its credit.

An island of coral that encircles a lagoon either completely or partially. Most of the world's atolls are in the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean. The Atlantic Ocean has only 8 atolls, which are located just east of Nicaragua.