INDIA, Kavaratti Island, Lakshadweep Archipelago - January 2009
Construction of an environmental education center in exchange for the establishment of a 500-acre marine protected area for a duration of 10 years
The Lakshadweep Archipelago lies in the Arabian Sea at a distance of 155 to 280 miles from the west coast of India. Lakshadweep is considered the smallest Union Territory of India with a population of approximately 60,000 people inhabiting 11 of the 36 islands. Karavatti is the capital and the most centrally located island in the archipelago, with a land area of approximately 4.22 square kilometers and a permanent population of 10,119. The reefs and lagoons of Kavaratti are under severe anthropogenic threats, namely increased lagoon fishing, waste release to lagoons and increasing tourism activities. Lakshadweep Marine Research and Conservation Centre (LMRCC) is a local organization committed to conservation and sustainable development of Lakshadweep's coral reef ecosystems. LMRCC has requested support from Seacology to construct an environmental education center. In exchange, the local community will set aside 500 acres of Kayaratti Lagoon as a marine reserve, where marine species will be protected for a minimum duration of 10 years.
UPDATE June 2009 - As of May 2009 field representative Samit Sawhny reports that the land purchase for the center will be completed by September 2009, as they are already in discussion with some land owners about this. The building should be completed by May 2010 with the purchase of furniture, books, multimedia, computer and accessories to be completed by June 2010. Additionally, Mr. Sawhny will visit Lakshadweep in July or August 2009. A Seacology delegation will also visit the site in January 2010.
UPDATE September 2009 - The land for the center was purchased during the first week of August 2009. Additionally, as of September 2009 the land has been cleared and the building foundation has been laid. Materials for public awareness of the conservation effort are being prepared. The building should be completed by May 2010 with the purchase of furniture, books, multimedia, computer and accessories to be completed by June 2010.
UPDATE December 2009 - As of December 2009 field representative Samit Sawhny reports that construction is going on at a rapid pace and the building will likely be completed in January for the Seacology visit to Lakshadweep. Construction of the building wall will be finished by 5th December 2009. An application for electric connection has been submitted to the local electricity office and it's under active consideration. A contract has been made with a local group for wiring the building before plastering and is expected to be completed by 15th December 2009. The windows and doors for the building are ordered and they are under construction. Conservation awareness programs have begun being shown twice a week at a local café and a beach clean-up for uninhabited Pitti Island is held at regular intervals.
UPDATE April 2010 - As of April 2010 field representative Vineeta Hoon reports that the construction of the conservation education centre has been completed and electric connection has been obtained. Purchase of furniture has also been completed, now finishing the library is in progress. Additionally in the first week of April a presentation and video shown on coral reef conservation was organized for young visitors from mainland India, followed by a beach cleanup the next day.
UPDATE January 2011 - Vineeta Hoon reports there was a delay in setting up the interior of the education centre since Lakshadweep Marine Research and Conservation Centre (LMRCC) staff wanted to see how the building fared during the monsoon. During the monsoon, they noted that the interiors became damp with salt deposits that came in through ventilation ducts. The ducts have now been closed with polystyrene sheets to stop damp sea air from entering the building. Now the centre is functional; a library has been set up and wall displays are in place. LMRCC staff plans to build a platform around the building and a staircase to go to the roof terrace. Educational activities that have taken place include a program for local high schoolers about the importance of coral reefs, the installation of a wall painting describing marine life at the Government Girls High School, establishment of a reef club, and creation of a living reef exhibition.