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THE ATOLLS OF LAKSHADWEEP


Published on: 12/11/2020 6:04:28 AM

The Lakshadweep islands are situated on the northern part of Laccadive-Maldives-Chagos ridge, lying off the west coast of India. It comprises coral atolls, reefs and submerged banks, which surround 36 low lying coralline islands. With a population of 64,429 in 2011 and a land area of 32 sq. km, the island group is densely inhabited. The land area accounts for less than 1 per cent of the total area of the Union Territory of Lakshadweep. Taken in totality, with the lagoons and the exclusive economic zone–the coral atolls occupy a large territory.

Lakshadweep is the only atoll formation in India. The atolls vary in shape from circular, sub circular to elliptical–some enclosed with lagoons, while others partly inundated. The islands are flat and scarcely rise more than 2 m. The soils are structureless, formed by coral detritus and as such the soil fertility and water holding capacity are extremely poor.

Apart from coconut, little else can be grown here. Freshwater resources are contained in a lens shaped aquifer 1.5 m below the surface. Freshwater is limited and the hydrological system is extremely fragile–the water being periodically renewed by rainfall. Eleven out of the 36 islands of Lakshadweep are inhabited–Agatti, Andrott. Amini, Bangaram, Bitra, Chetlat, Kadmat, Kavaratti, Kalpeni, Kiltan and Minicoy. An old dialect of Malayalam is spoken on all the islands except Minicoy, where they speak Mahl and are culturally similar to the people of Maldives.

 

Fauna and Flora of Lakshadweep Island

The flora of the islands include Banana, Vazha,(Musaparadisiaca), Colocassia, Chambu (Colocassia antiquarum) Drumstic moringakkai (Moringa Oleifera) , Bread Fruit, Chakka (Artocarpus incisa) wild almond (Terminalia Catappa) which are grown extensively. Some of the shrub jungles plant like Kanni (Scaevolakeeningil), Punna, (Calaphylluminophyllum), Chavok(Casurina equisetifolia), Cheerani (Thespesia Populnea) are unevenly grown throughout the island. Coconut, Thenga (Cacos nucifera) is the only crop of economic importance in Lakshadweep. These are found in different varieties such as Laccadive micro, Laccadive ordinary, green dwarf etc. Two different varieties of sea grass are seen adjacent to the beaches. They are known as Thalassia hemprichin and Cymodocea isoetifolia. They prevent sea erosion and movement of the beach sediments.

The marine life of the sea is quite elaborate and difficult to condense. The commonly seen vertebrates are cattle and poultry. Oceanic birds generally found in Lakshadweep are Tharathasi (Sterna fuscata) and Karifetu (Anous solidus). They are generally found in one of the uninhabited islands known as PITTI. This island has been declared as a bird sanctuary.

Molluscan forms are also important from the economic point of the islands. The money cowrie (cypraea monita) are also found in abundance in the shallow lagoons and reefs of the islands. Other cypraeds found here are cypraca talpa and cyprea maculiferra. Among crabs, the hermit crab is the most common. Colorful coral fish such as parrot fish (Callyedon sordidus), Butterfly fish (Chaetodon auriga), Surgeon fish (Acanthurus lineotus) are also found in plenty.

Demography of Lakshadweep Island

As per details from Census 2011, Lakshadweep has population of 64 Thousand, an increase from figure of 60 Thousand in 2001 census. Total population of Lakshadweep as per 2011 census is 64,473 of which male and female are 33,123 and 31,350 respectively. In 2001, total population was 60,650 in which males were 31,131 while females were 29,519.

The total population growth in this decade was 6.30 percent while in previous decade it was 17.19 percent. The population of Lakshadweep forms 0.01 percent of India in 2011. In 2001, the figure was 0.01 percent.

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