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ALL ABOUT LAKSHADWEEP ISLANDS

28th May, 2021 Prelims

ALL ABOUT LAKSHADWEEP ISLANDS

Context

  • Row over Draft Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation, 2021.

Note: Read about the issue here: https://www.iasgyan.in/daily-current-affairs/draft-lakshadweep-development-authority-regulation-2021

About Lakshadweep

  • Lakshadweep is a tropical archipelago of 36 atolls and coral reefs in the Laccadive Sea, 280 km to 480 km off the coast of Kerala. 11 are inhabited.
  • But currently, there are 35 islands, as the Parali 1 island submerged in water due to sea erosion.
  • Lakshadweep means "one lakh islands" in Malayalam, the official as well as the widely spoken native language in the territory. Fishing is the most important industry.
  • The islands form the smallest union territory of India and their total surface area is just 32 km square.
  • Kavaratti serves as the capital of the Union Territory and the region comes under the jurisdiction of Kerala High Court. It is a uni-district Union Territory.
  • The principal languages of Lakshadweep are Malayalam, Jeseri (Dweep Bhasha) and Mahl.
  • These islands were earlier known as Laccadive, Minicoy, and Amindivi Islands.
  • The name Lakshadweep was adopted on 1st November 1973.

Historical Background

  • There has been the existence of human settlements in the region since around 1500 BCE.
  • The islands were also mentioned in the Buddhist Jataka stories of the sixth century BCE.
  • Islam was established in the region when Muslims arrived around the seventh century.
  • During the medieval period, the region was ruled by the Chera dynasty, the Chola dynasty, and finally the Kingdom of Kannur.
  • The Catholic Portuguese arrived around 1498 but were expelled by 1545.
  • The region was then ruled by the Muslim house of Arakkal, who were vassals to the Kings of Kannur, followed by Tipu Sultan.
  • On his death in 1799, most of the region passed on to the British, and with their departure, the Union Territory was formed in 1956.

Geography

  • The island is situated in the Laccadive Sea extending between 8 degree N and 12 degree N latitude.
  • The entire Lakshadweep islands group is made up of coral deposits.
  • The islands consist of unconsolidated pebbles, shingles, cobbles, and boulders. All are atolls surrounded by Fringing Reefs.
  • These islands are a part of Reunion Hotspot volcanism.
  • Some islands under the Lakshadweep Islands group are:
  1. Kavaratti
  2. Agatti
  3. Minicoy
  4. Amindivi
  5. Androth,
  6. Kalpeni,
  7. Pitti
  8. Suheli Par
  9. Keltan,
  10. Chetlat,
  11. Kadmat,
  12. Bitra
  13. Perumul Par
  14. Bangaram
  • Amindivi Islands are the northern-most most while the Minicoy island is the southernmost.
  • 8 Degree Channel ( 8 degrees north latitude) separates the islands of Minicoy and Maldives.
  • 9 Degree Channel ( 9 degrees north latitude) separates the island of Minicoy from the main Lakshadweep archipelago.
  • Largest island: Minicoy Island (south of the nine-degree channel)
  • The topography of the Lakshadweep Islands is flat and relief features such as hills, streams, valleys, etc. are absent.
  • The Islands are extremely vulnerable to sea-level change as they do not rise more than five meters above sea level.
  • These islands have a north-south orientation. Exception: only Androth has an East-West orientation.

Important Facts

  • There is an absence of forests in the Island.
  • Coconut is the only major crop. The Lakshadweep coconuts are the highest oil content nuts in the world (82 percent).
  • The butterflyfish is the state animal of the Lakshadweep Islands.
  • Sooty tern is the state bird of the Lakshadweep Islands.
  • Bread Fruit is the state tree of the Lakshadweep Islands.
  • Oceanic birds generally found in Lakshadweep are Tharathasi (Sterna fuscata) and Karifetu (Anous solidus). They are generally found in one of the uninhabited islands known as PITTI. This island has been declared as a bird sanctuary. It is also an important breeding place for sea turtles.
  • According to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes list (Modification Orders), 1956, the inhabitants of Lakshadweep who and both of whose parents are born in these islands are treated as Scheduled Tribes.
  • In 2020, the entire Lakshadweep group of islands was declared as an organic agricultural area under the Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) of India.
  • Agatti Aerodrome on Agatti Island is the only airport in Lakshadweep.
  • The main occupation of the people is fishing and coconut cultivation, with tuna being the main item of export.