KOCHI: Amid growing protests over sweeping new rules in Lakshadweep by new administrator Praful K Patel, the officials of industry bodies pointed out much before the new controversy, there has been a quiet move to shift freight transit from Beypore and Kochi ports to Mangaluru port.
“The Lakshadweep administration has been insisting that the islanders should not rely on Kerala ports such as Beypore and Kochi for freight transit, and look at Mangaluru for the purpose. The move came even before the new administrator took charge. In the wake of new developments, we can’t see the move in isolation,” said G Karthikeyan, president, Kerala Merchants’ Chamber of Commerce. He said some time ago, there was a labour-related issue at Willingdon Island, and the business community thought the move to promote Mangaluru port came following this.
Officials said the cattle for consumption of beef is mostly shipped from Beypore to Lakshadweep islands, which are mostly Muslim-dominated. However, the draft regulation states that “no person shall directly or indirectly sell, keep, store, transport, offer or expose for sale or buy beef or beef products in any form”. Further, vehicles transporting beef are liable to be confiscated. The penalty for slaughtering a cow is a minimum of 10 years in prison extending up to a life sentence and a fine of Rs 5 lakh. Those violating the beef ban will face a minimum jail term of seven years, as per the new rules.
Munshid Ali, member, Beypore Port Advisory Council, Calicut Chamber of Commerce, said Kerala is losing out in terms of tax revenues too as the business moves to Mangaluru. “Our company supplies tyres to Lakshadweep. Now, we have to move our goods to Mangaluru, making our cost of operations higher. Effectively, what will happen is we will lose out as companies located near Mangaluru port will take our business. Kerala as a state will also lose the tax revenues,” said Ali, who is a partner of Kozhikode-based Ceekey Tyres.
He said the Kerala government also should come forward to build better facilities at Beypore port for the passengers. “For instance, right now, the passengers wait in a small shed-like structure for the ships at Beypore port. Similarly, they stand in the hot sun to take tickets. The state government should come forward to provide better facilities for the passengers,” Ali said. Karthikeyan said most cargo from Kochi to Lakshadweep are vegetables and provisions.
CHENNITHALA URGES PREZ TO CALL BACK PATEL
T’Puram: Senior Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala wrote to the President of India seeking to recall the Lakshadweep administrator. Various actions taken by the Administrator will adversely affect the islands’ unique socio-cultural environment, Chennithala pointed out.
“The actions taken by the Administrator will lead to total destruction of the islands’ unique characteristics. There’s an urgent need for the Union Government and the President to intervene and call him back,” he said.
LEAGUE VOWS SUPPORT IF STATE GOVT INTERVENES
MALAPPURAM: Muslim League will organise protests to protect the rights of people of Lakshadweep, national general secretary P K Kunhalikutty said on Tuesday. He urged the state government to intervene. “IUML will extend all support to the government if it takes measures to help the residents,” he told reporters in Thiruvananthapuram. IUML acting state general secretary P M A Salam, in a press meet in Malappuram, said people of the island are being denied their fundamental rights.