The residents of Lakshadweep on Monday staged a protest against the administration’s order to impose a fine on them if coconut and palm leaves, shells or trunks are found in and around their homes, reported PTI.

The residents held placards that read “introduce mulching” and “stop imposing fine” and urged the administration to introduce technology to convert organic material from coconut to compost instead of imposing fines.

To maintain cleanliness and hygiene in the islands in view of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Lakshadweep administration on June 4 issued an order directing residents to keep the areas around their homes clean by scientifically disposing of coconut shells, tree leaves, coconut husks and other material.

“No person is allowed to throw or break or spread coconuts, fruits leftovers, vegetables waste on roads, footpaths, public areas, lagoon, sea and the beaches,” the order said. It also prohibited disposal by burning of any type of solid waste at roadsides, beaches and in open areas.

Residents of the islands as well as Opposition parties have been protesting against a slew of regulations introduced by Administrator Praful Khoda Patel.

The new regulations by Patel 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 rules.

Opposition parties have criticised Patel’s decisions related to the Union Territory and have asked for his removal. The parties accused him of harassing locals and destroying the heritage of the island territory. Politicians have also alleged that Patel, who had served as Gujarat home minister, has been targeting Lakshadweep’s large Muslim population.

On Monday, Lakshadweep MP Mohammed Faizal PP told PTI that the protestors want a proper waste management system in place. “Unless the waste management system is implemented, there is no genuine right from the side of administration to collect fine on falling of coconut leaves and other palms in their property,” Faizal said. “[How are] the people of islands expected to do the scientific processing of leaves and palms?”

The MP said that the residents of the Union Territory cannot afford to have their own scientific processing unit or incinerator for the disposal of the leaves and other parts. He said that it was the duty of the Lakshadweep administration to create such a facility.

“If such facilities are made available and people are not obeying this, then you can impose the fine,” the legislator told PTI. “The primary responsibility of the administration should be to ensure the installation of scientific processing units like incinerators in the island.”