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Lakshadweep receives INR 3,600 cr for infrastructure upgrade

 

The Indian government has unveiled an INR 3,600 crore blueprint for upgrading the infrastructure of the Lakshadweep islands, aiming to elevate them into a premier tourist destination, according to a government official cited by the Economic Times. The ambitious plan encompasses the enhancement of port facilities, peripheral roads, beachfront amenities, and other critical infrastructure projects.

Key features of the initiative include the development of port facilities on Androth, Kalpeni, and Kadamat islands. It also involves the construction of beachfronts and peripheral roads in strategic locations such as Kadamat Island (East), Agatti Island (East), and Kavaratti Island. These efforts are part of a broader strategy to improve connectivity and tourism infrastructure across the 36 islands of Lakshadweep, spanning a total area of 32 square kilometers, situated 220-440 km off the Kerala coast in the Arabian Sea.

Funding for these projects will be derived from the Sagarmala scheme, focusing on port-led development initiatives. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, during the presentation of the Interim Union Budget 2024, underscored the significance of investing in port connectivity and tourism infrastructure, particularly on islands like Lakshadweep, to meet the burgeoning demand for domestic tourism in the country.

In her budget speech, the finance minister addressed the aspirations of the Indian middle class for travel and exploration. She emphasised the need to promote local entrepreneurship in tourism, including spiritual tourism, and announced plans to develop iconic tourist centers with global branding and marketing.

To support the development of tourism infrastructure, the government intends to provide long-term interest-free loans to states on a matching basis. This initiative aims to generate employment opportunities and stimulate economic growth while meeting the increasing demand for domestic tourism.

The reference to Lakshadweep in the budget speech carries significance, particularly in the wake of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to the island on January 4. During his visit, Prime Minister Modi underscored the tourism potential of Lakshadweep, emphasising its allure for adventure enthusiasts and sharing his own experiences with activities like snorkelling.

However, the island’s prominence also sparked controversy when derogatory comments were directed at Prime Minister Modi by a minister and other leaders in the Maldives. This occurred after he shared a video of his visit to a beach in Lakshadweep.

Consequently, several Indians and tour operators opted to cancel their plans to visit the Maldives, leading to a shift in tourism preferences.

In November 2023, the government initiated the ‘Viksit Bharat Sankalp Yatra’ to implement tribal welfare measures on the island. This initiative, designed to achieve the saturation of welfare schemes, involved the deployment of an Information, Education, and Communication (IEC) van to enhance outreach efforts. The program reached its conclusion on January 25, 2024, marking a significant stride towards development in Lakshadweep.

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