Budget 2024: FM Sitharaman addresses Lakshadweep’s role in India-Maldives dispute

Addressing this backdrop, Sitharaman’s budget announcement regarding Lakshadweep’s inclusion in tourism projects is notable. Travel industry expert Nishant Pitti, whose firm EaseMyTrip suspended flight bookings to the Maldives due to the diplomatic row, commended Sitharaman’s vision, calling it a “transformative approach.”

The Union Territory of Lakshadweep took centre stage in Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s budget speech, as she outlined plans for domestic tourism projects across the archipelago’s 35 islands. Emphasizing the government’s commitment to fostering enthusiasm for domestic travel, Sitharaman announced initiatives for port connectivity, tourism infrastructure, and amenities on various islands, including Lakshadweep.

This mention comes on the heels of a recent diplomatic spat between India and the Maldives involving Lakshadweep. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s social media posts from his Lakshadweep visit triggered controversy, as three deputy ministers in the Maldivian government perceived it as an attempt to promote Lakshadweep as a tourism destination over the Maldives.

The ministers responded with offensive posts against PM Modi and India, resulting in their suspension by the Maldivian government. The incident highlighted underlying tensions, with the Maldivian government led by Mohamed Muizzu considered to be anti-India and pro-China.

Addressing this backdrop, Sitharaman’s budget announcement regarding Lakshadweep’s inclusion in tourism projects is notable. Travel industry expert Nishant Pitti, whose firm EaseMyTrip suspended flight bookings to the Maldives due to the diplomatic row, commended Sitharaman’s vision, calling it a “transformative approach.

Pitti expressed optimism about the impact of infrastructure development, particularly port connectivity and tourism-related initiatives, on the islands, foreseeing positive outcomes for travel experiences and local economies.

Sitharaman also highlighted a significant increase in the total outlay for infrastructure in Budget 2024, raising it to ₹11.11 lakh crore for the fiscal year 2024-25. This move underscores the government’s commitment to robust infrastructure development across the country, including in Lakshadweep.

The finance minister’s focus on domestic tourism and island infrastructure aligns with broader efforts to boost the economy and promote sustainable development. The acknowledgement of Lakshadweep in the budget speech indicates a strategic approach to leverage the region’s potential as a tourist destination, emphasizing connectivity and amenities to enhance the overall travel experience.

As Budget 2024 unfolds, the proposed initiatives for Lakshadweep signal a commitment to balancing diplomatic considerations with economic development, aiming to foster growth and resilience in the Union Territory and contribute to India’s broader tourism landscape.