Tuesday, October 16, 2012

IDA - Whats the Agenda?

LOA Vol 36 - Issue - 02 - 15 Oct 2012
IDA - Whats the Agenda?

The Island Development Authority was not always a directionless, uninspired, reluctant body that survived for survivals sake. Under Rajiv Gandhi it was a dynamic mechanism to usher the Island territories of Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep into an era of balanced prosperity, where development and environment would compliment each other rather than compete.
Next IDA meet is  on 17 Oct 2012 and the Islanders are as usual kept in darkness about the agenda. Why can't the Admn publish the agenda of the IDA meeting and seek the suggestions of the stakeholders? Subjects chosen by the Bureaucrats and discussed in Delhi with a single MP representing the Islands is the fate of the Islanders. The Member of Parliament will have a long list of populist agenda for the IDA.
It was the IDA that had raised environmental concerns long before the NGOs and the courts got into the act. It was the IDA that had mooted the idea of introducing the Inner Line Permit System to keep a check on the influx of population. The issue of identity cards to all the islanders was also its recommendation. Sustainable development, pollution free industry, true economic development were a few concerns that the first IDA meeting addressed with all sincerity.
Other than a few insignificant things here and there no substantial objective has been fulfilled. There is no clue whether the studies as envisaged by the IDA decisions were ever conducted and if so, what were the findings.
There were path breaking decisions on influx, carrying capacity of the islands, exploitation of marine resources, tribal rights and other developmental issue. But those always remained tied up in official files of the Planning Commission and the concerned ministries.
As far as public knowledge goes nothing has been done on any of the decisions. At least nothing has come of the files on to the ground. The people of A&N Islands and Lakshadweep are waiting to see if the next IDA follows the path shown by Rajiv Gandhi or degenerates into another inanity.
Over the years, it had turned into a ritual to hold a perfunctory meeting in difference to the wishes and memories of late Rajiv Gandhi and consign the deliberations to the dustbin as soon as the meeting is over.
All said and done, IDA provides the administration and the Member of Parliament to put up their agenda before the powerful body for consideration. And the Islanders never get to see the agenda or the minutes of the meeting. Why such an iron curtain between the Admn and the Islanders?
But both the administration and the MP have consistently failed to make use of the powerful forum to extract major concessions for the islands. There is no reason why it should be any different this time!

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