Lakshadweep is a group of islands lying scattered in the Arabian Sea. Its location is between 8 degree and 12 degree 30 minutes North Latitude and between 71 degree and 74 degree at a distance ranging from 200 kms (111 Nm) to 400 kms(222 Nm) from the south west coast of Indian Peninsula. All islands are surrounded by lagoons which are fenced by coral reefs all around. These reefs provide a natural shelter from rough seas, besides adding beauty to the islands. The Total geographic area of Lakshadweep is 32 Sq.Kms. There are ten inhabited islands and the largest island Andrott is 4.84 Sq.Kms. The smallest inhabited island Bitra has an area of 0.10 Sq. Km. The Total population of the Lakshadweep as per the latest available figures is 60595.
Being away and isolated these remote islands in the past had been connected to the mainland with the indigenous sailing vessels built by the islanders themselves. It took months for these vessels to reach the mainland.
The only agriculture crop sufficiently cultivated in these islands is Coconut. Fishing is the another trade that the people are mostly engaged in. Cultivation of other crops like vegetables and fruits are only nominal. The area of the islands itself is not sufficient to take up the agriculture activities in large scale. Again the limitation of space and the environmental peculiarities of the islands do not permit for any industrial establishment. Therefore, the people here have to depend fully to the mainland for each and every requirement for their existence. From a hair pin to construction materials has to be imported to the islands from mainland.
It is human to fall ill. It is human to aspire for better education. It is human to long for a better and more convenient life. In these islands, though have primary health centres have been established by the administration, any major case has to be referred to mainland or to the only major hospital available at Kavaratti, the capital island of the territory. Educational Institutes do exist and excel in whatever they have. But above the plus two level the students have to go to a college in mainland.
With the increase in the population and their propensity to travel between the islands as well as mainland, the traditional vessels became incapable of meeting the increased demands. After the territory becoming directly under the Central Government in the year 1956 the administrative machinery have been striving to enhance the facilities of travel and transportation of Cargo to these islands. The Central Government, has always been enormously benevolent. It was in 1980 a full fledged department of Port was established under the Administration of the Union territory. The beginning had been humble, only with two passenger ships of 12 passenger capacity during 1962. Number of ships have been increasing ever since. Now the Department has a fleet of 12 vessels out of which 5 are passenger ships and 5 Cargo barges. Another 2 Speed Vessels ferry between the islands.
Air Service between the islands and mainland and inter island have been started with Pawan Hans and Indian Airlines. Indian Air Lines operate flights between Kochi, Goa and Agatti. Nine Seater DAUPHIN Helicopter of Pawan Hans plies between the islands and to the mainland on emergency as an ambulance.
In addition the department has facilitated the islanders to book their railway tickets in advance to travel in the mainland after their arrival there by ship or air in the booking counters at Kavaratti and Minicoy.
This website endeavors to render more help to these islanders as well as anybody who desires to know the islands connectivity with the mainland. Suggestions for improvement are welcome.
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Shakeel Ahmad. M.K. & A.R. Basheer