Lakshadweep administrator and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Praful Khoda Patel on Thursday defended the tourism projects in the Union Territory and the new preventive detention law, saying that these were efforts to develop the region and help its residents, reported The Hindu.

Patel has introduced a slew of regulations in the first five months of his tenure, triggering a massive outcry among Opposition parties, who have called for his removal. Some local members of the BJP have also opposed the new rules.

The new regulations include a proposed cow slaughter ban, a preventive detention law in the Union Territory – which has one of the lowest crime rates in the country – and a draft law proposing sweeping changes in land development regulations.

However, unfazed by the mounting criticism, Patel claimed that the residents of Lakshadweep were in a pitiable condition even after 70 years of Independence. “We [the BJP administration] are trying to improve the lives of fishermen as well as coconut growers, ” he told The Hindu.

He said three environment-friendly water villa projects in line with the Maldives were being initiated to boost tourism in Minicoy, Suheli and Kadmat areas of the Union Territory. These projects were undertaken with NITI Aayog and would begin in August.

Patel also defended the draft Prevention of Anti-Social Activities law, saying that it was brought in to protect the internal security of the islands. “So strict and stringent laws are needed so that the youth here are not misguided,” he said, according to The Hindu. “People having vested interests in such illegal business are protesting against the imposition of strict laws.”

The confiscation of 300 kg of heroin and ammunition, smuggling of marijuana and alcohol were said to be the reasons behind this crackdown.

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Patel also said that the Rs 1,072 crore submarine optical fibre cable project, set to be completed by 2023-’24, would help with the improvement of online education, medical services and locals would be able to avail of opportunities in sectors such as education and business.

He said that his administration has begun the process of expanding Lakshadweep’s Agatti airport to allow Boeing and Airbus to operate so that international and domestic tourism was promoted.

On Wednesday, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor shared a resignation letter of eight members of the BJP’s youth wing in Lakshadweep. The members resigned in protest against Patel’s decisions in the Union Territory and said that he was destroying the peace and tranquility of the island territory.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Lakshadweep MP and Nationalist Congress Party leader Mohammed Faizal alleged that Patel was implementing anti-people rules, reported ANI. He called for Patel’s removal and demanded that Modi and Shah should listen to the public outcry.

NCP chief also said Patel’s recent decisions would lead to the destruction of traditional means of livelihood and unique culture of the island. In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Pawar sought his intervention, and said the decisions taken by the administrator were “unwarranted and irrational”.

Opposition parties have criticised Patel’s decisions related to the Union Territory and demanded his removal from the post. The parties accused him of harassing local people and destroying the heritage of the island territory. Opposition leaders have also alleged that Patel, who had served as Gujarat home minister, is carrying out the political agenda of the BJP to target Lakshadweep’s large Muslim population.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin on Thursday urged Modi to recall Patel for the new regulations. He called for the intervention of the Prime Minister’s Office and appealed that Patel should be eased out of the administrator’s office, reported News18.