Setu project: enviro, economic, nautical disaster

March 15, 2008

Two reports are presented. One by Sudarshan Rodriguez et al. relates to environmental and economic disasters of Setu Samudram Shipping Channel Project (SSCP). The other by Commander John Jacob Puthur, Indian Navy (Retd.) refers to sedimentation, oceanographic, navigation security and nautical disasters.

Both conclude that the SSCP has been launched without adequate studies and without careful analyses of impacts on the lives of coastal people and the ecosystem.

kalyanaraman 15 March 2008

http://www.scribd.com/doc/2283275/sscpenviroecoissues

 Review of Environmental and Economic aspects of Setusamudram Ship Channel Project (SSCP) by Sudarshan Rodriguez, Jacob John, Rohan Arthur, Kartik Shanker and Aarthi Sridhar, Oct. 2007

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The section on dredging and it impacts on the corals and seagrasses concludes that the project and its activities will introduce dramatic changes in the marine environment of the Gulf of Mannar and Palk Bay. Finally, the last section on the economic review reveals many glaring gaps. Firstly among them is  that the cost savings by ships have not been adequately detailed out and grossly exaggerated. Secondly, the fuel savings for many of these ships is actually negative. Thirdly, the total savings (including reduction in time charter) actually works out to just 30% of what is claimed by the DPR for most non-coastal ships. The review concludes that the above three factors have significant revenue implications as over 60% of the ships which ‘benefit’ will not be willing to pay the amount as claimed in the DPR and this calls for a greater study of economic benefits as per the present justification and that in the present scenario the project will be a financial white elephant. In light of all the above, we conclude that the project has not been adequately assessed for the environmental impacts to the biodiversity and habitat of the Palk Straits, Palk Bay and Gulf of Mannar and will have serious impacts and cause drastic changes to the biodiversity of the region. It is likely to also cause major impacts and losses of fisheries and livelihoods to the region. Reviewing the current status of the implementation phase of the project, considerable environmental damage has probably already been done.The project is economically unviable as per the present justifications in the project document such as the Detailed Project Report and the Technical Feasibility and Economic Analysis Report. 2. RecommendationsIn light of the above the reviewers have the broad recommendation that since in the present scenario, the project will have serious negative environmental and financial impacts, it should consider addressing all the knowledge gaps & recommendations that have been highlighted in this report. The specific recommendations are listed below:Carry out a risk analysis/assessment, an ecological risk assessment and develop a disaster management plan as per the requirement and guidelines laid down by the EIA Notification and MoEF and incorporate them into the EIAUndertake an assessment of sub-surface geology using appropriate drilling investigations to arrive at clear picture of the type of dredging required and its impacts on the environment.Based on the above appropriate hydrodynamic modeling studies in the full area of the channel and potential disposal sites using a full year’s primary data taking into account cyclone and non cyclone data, should be done. This study should also incorporate the latest literature on sedimentation of the project area and the information of sub-surface geology.Based on the inputs and results of the above two points, undertake a study of the sediment dispersion and sedimentation during dredging operations and assess its ecological and environmental implications. The result of this should be incorporated into EIA, EMP and post project environmental monitoring. Based on the dredge spoil characteristics, quantum and sedimentation of the region identify suitable sites for dredge disposal after assessing their stability using a full year’s primary data (for normal and cyclonic conditions). The result of this should be incorporated into EIA, EMP and post project environmental monitoring.A full description and quantum of loss of bottom flora & fauna along the channel and the dredge disposal sites. As assessment of the impacts and implications to the local ecology and fisheries should be done and incorporated into EIA, EMP and post project environmental monitoring.Ensure monitoring of all the parameters suggested in the DPR and MoEF clearance conditions are being carried out and is fully published on the project website regularly.The environmental parameters currently being monitored need to be expanded to include other parameters such as hydrography, bathymetry, current dynamics, total suspension load, climate changes, sea level alterations etc. These should be incorporated into EMP and post-project environmental monitoring.The submarine conditions during the dredging activity should be inspected by divers and photographic and video records should be maintained. This activity should also cover the dredge disposal sites. This should be incorporated into EMP and post-project environmental monitoring.The project should develop a Dredging Management Programme and incorporate it into the Environment Management Plan (EMP) of the EIA.Since the above are all basic elements that should have been part of the EIA (and at least 70 percent of an EIA for a project of this kind) and given the weight of the criticisms it is only fitting that EIA and the relevant studies be redone.Only after the above has been done, reassessment of the economic justifications of the project by reviewing of all economic benefits as per present justification should be done. Specifically, reassess the current projected cost savings by ships in terms of distance, fuel savings, and time savings for the various routes. The projected traffic along these various routes (Aden, Africa/Mauritius and Indian coastal ships) should be quantified.http://www.scribd.com/doc/2283307/SSCPsedimentationnauticalissues

 Setusamudram Ship Channel Project — where is it headed? By Commander John Jacob Puthur, Indian Navy (Retd.)

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In Conclusion In conclusion, I must submit that it is rather presumptuous to compare Sethusamudram canal with Suez or Panama. Those canal save over ten thousand nautical miles of passage for the vessels, and also accommodate larger DWT vessels. For a vessel coming after a long ocean passage of thousands of nautical miles few hundred saved may make little difference to the overall profitability of the shipping industry to warrant a traverse through a narrow canal almost in ‘open sea’ at a rather slow speed of 8 knots. Such a low speed traverse with dangerous shallows on either side will hardly be a pleasant experience for the master of the vessel, whatever may have been the outcome of the ship-manoeuvring studies. Finally, I must again submit, let the dredging go on, as that’s the only way to test of siltation of the dredged areas. I think it’s a price worth paying to get to the grips of the phenomenon of coastal sediment dynamics in a monsoon regime that has eluded many a marine scientist and coastal engineer in India. The canal’s outcome will be the proof of the theory, either way!  I have been studying the phenomenon for a long time now. We can actually solve the siltation problems of many a port along our coast. While siltation problem of ports can be mitigated to a very great extent I doubt whether there will be such possibility for the Sethusamudram Ship Canal itself, that is, just in case they decide to go ahead in spite of siltation.  To the best of my understanding the canal will silt and go on silting, so long as it is being maintenance dredged. But, if they do choose to shelve the project once the siltation becomes apparent, no one will notice any difference on the seabed. The nature will restore itself in next to no time. Environmentalists on either side needn’t get too worried, at least for a while… At the outset, a 90 nautical mile transit through a narrow canal, just 300 metes wide, constrained by shallow depths either side, and at a slow speed of 8 knots would make a warship ‘sitting duck’. Such a passage, nearly 12 hour long, virtually defenceless, so close to waters of another state, let alone the underwater dangers due to shallows either side would be sufficient to give jitters to any captain or fleet commander. It is lot safer to traverse through deeper waters with sufficient sea room when the warships can move at top speeds, even if that meant a slightly longer passage and some extra fuel. Moreover, both our coasts have independent fleets that are reasonably well equipped to deal with all the contingencies along their respective coasts without having to summon resources from the other fleet at short notice and that too frequently. Therefore, Navy has little to gain from Sethusamudram Canal. But sure enough it will increase Navy’s workload considerably. A canal such as this is highly susceptible to offensive ‘mine-laying’ by the enemy. In fact, mines can be laid by number of ways that are indeed extremely difficult to detect – from air, from small fishing boats, and even merchant vessels. Therefore, minesweeping in the canal would become Navy’s routine task, particularly during periods of tension. Say, if a merchant vessel does run over a mine, in addition to the environmental consequences, the canal itself would be sealed off for days if not weeks to clear the wreck. Even a deliberate sinking of a rusted old trawler within the canal, probably as an act ‘nautical terrorism’, can seal off the canal for days. And if that should happen unnoticed, the matter would come to light only when a larger laden vessel runs over the wreck. The consequences can be catastrophic. Thus guarding the 167 kilometres long canal would be an immense burden on the Navy, Coast Guard, and perhaps on a special maritime police specially created for the guarding the canal. Has anyone considered the costs? In any case such a force would be necessary in to counter yet another threat such canals face – the threat of piracy. All canal, river or narrow strait transits of ships have spawned pirates. Slow moving vessels close to land are an easy prey to attacks by pirates. Examples abound – our own very Hoogly River transit to the Port of Kolkotha, Malacca Strait and many other river or canal transits in the East and Fareast. The pirates arrive in small speedboats to board the slow moving vessels using ropes and grapnels. Usually they cart away whatever they find on deck, coils of ropes and such other items, but there are also number of cases when crew have been attacked and other valuables stolen. A special force duly aided by several navies, including our own, deals with the piracy problem at the Malacca Strait. There is little doubt that Sethusamudram Canal will also spawn a new breed of pirates, and perhaps some of them may be used to fund terrorism on either side. The cost of dealing with this problem will no doubt be huge, and rightly should be termed as operational cost. Has that been considered? Whatever then may be the environmental or security impact; there is little doubt that the Sethusamudram Canal would adversely affect local fishermen. Their work and also the their area of operation will be restricted due to increased shipping activity. In addition, these poor fishermen will be subject to harassment on account of frequent security checks. The harassment of fishermen by Navy and Coast Guard along Saurashtra Coast post 1993 Mumbai blasts is a matter hardly discussed in the press but very real indeed for those poor folk. Along with harassment on security grounds, these fishermen also suffered serious economic losses due to blatant confiscation of catch by those involved in ensuring security – fence eating the crop. I have written about this matter to the concerned long ago to highlight the issue after being an eyewitness to one such incident, notoriously called ‘fishex’ within the Navy. There’s little doubt that the livelihood of local fishermen would be affected with cascading effect on the local economy. The EIA reports have only harped on the marginal reduction in fish productivity due to the canal, hence anticipate little impact on the local fishing industry. But the fish productivity is not the only factor that affects the local fishing industry. Environmental impacts aside, the economic impacts due to the canal are not altogether favourable, both in the short and long term, which should justify such a huge expenditure for creating the canal. It is anybody’s guess that there are other motives for going ahead with the canal.

Dredging is not an industry known for ethical business practices. Most of what they do happens underwater, away from any probing scrutiny. Only a hydrographer and the concerned dredging team would know the actual volume dredged, for working out payments. Here there’s enough room for manipulation with least chances of detection. No one would question variations in depths up to 0.2 metres, but that would make immense difference to dredging cost. With roughly 90 kilometres of canal being dredged to a width of 300 metres, the dredging cross-sectional area is 27 million square metres. And if there were a difference of just 0.1 metres in dredged depth it would mean a dredged volume of 2.7 million cubic metres. The average cost of capital dredging for this project is Rs. 208/- per cubic metre. Therefore 2.7 million cubic metres of dredged volume would mean a difference of Rs. 56.16 crores, and for 0.2 metres it would be Rs. 112.32 crores. There’s no way anyone could question this. Yet more manipulations can be done that will also belay easy detection.


Setu: Veeramani lacks competence to advise — Ramadoss

February 8, 2008

Friday February 8 2008 00:00 IST (Dinamani)

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http://tinyurl.com/2nto3q


Abandon Setu project; save coastal peoples’ lives, save ecosphere

November 13, 2007

Abandon Setu project so save livelihood of coastal people and save ecosphere

Two sets of documents are posted. One set contains the detailed reports of Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh. These reports are based on personal visits and discussions with the coastal people on the impact on their livelihood if the Setusamudram channel project is implemented. The arguments are stunning and point to the imperative of ABANDONING the project completely. The choice is stark: between fisherfolks’ lives and navigation cutting through Gulf of Mannar and Palk Bay. The choice is obvious. Fisherfolks’ lives should take precedence. There should be no Setusamudram channel.

A second set contains two parts of an article ‘Rama Sethu and the need to save ecosphere’ by Dr. S. Kalyanaraman. These contain a stark warning of the impending tsunami as reported in the Nature magazine (Sept. 9, 2007) which could be more devastating than the Dec. 26, 2004 tsunami. Rama Setu which serves as a tsunami wall protecting the coastline against devastating cyclones and tsunamis and which separates the two distinct habitats of Bay of Bengal and Gulf of Mannar should NOT be touched or damaged in any way.

Thus, environmental issues and the issues related to the livelihood of coastal people – both of which are interlinked – lead to only one conclusion: Setusamudram navigation project should be shelved.

There are, of course, other serious issues related to national security by creating a mid-ocean channel passage as an international boundary where such a boundary never existed, thus opening up the region to dangerous geopolitical interventions. This is evidenced by the US Navy operational directive of 23 June 2005 refusing to recognize the age-old claim of historic waters and treating them as international waters defying Law of the Sea 1958.

Kalyanaraman 13 Nov. 2007

BHARATIYA MAZDOOR SANGH

RAM NARESH BHAVAN, TILAK GALI, PAHAR GANJ, NEW DELHI – 110055 (INDIA)

Tele: (011) 2358 2648, 2358 4212, Fax: 91-11 2358 2648,

e-mail: bms@indiya.com, bms@org.in

Ref No: .BMS/TN/107/07 Date: 29.10.2007

Member Secretary, Experts Committee;

Poom Pozhil, No.5, Greenwuys Road,

Chennai – 600 028.

Sir,

Sub: Sethusamuthram Shipping Channel Project – Impact on the employment of fishermen and workers of the allied activities – objections against SSCP – Reg.

The implementation of the Sethu Samutharam Shipping Channel project, is eliminating the avenues of employment of fishermen, and other workers engaged in supporting and allied activities in the coastal districts of Tamilnadu. Hence we tender our objections to SSCP.

We conducted survey and the findings are as detailed here under.

1. Loss of employment.

(a). The Passage from Rameshwaram island to Srilanka, via. Dhanushkodi and Ram Sethu (Ramar Palam) Connecting Thalaimannar on the western coast of Srilanka, has been a formidable wall, making the sea waters of Palk Strait and gulf of Mannar peaceful. Several Thousands of Species of fish and other marine beings are growing in the sea water. About 15 lacks fishermen and other workers performing supporting services are making living in the coastal Districts of Tamilnadu.

(b). The Dredging operation for SSCP from the last 3 months, have disturbed the Peace of the sea. Polluted the water and air. The place were dredged earth is dumped, impacted the survival and growth of fish and marine life. As a result the fish wealth is depleted and costly varities of fish like ‘sela’ is not available.

(c). The fishermen and their boats are not permitted in the area of present dredging and Prospective ship channel. As a result the fishermen are not getting fish catch as before and suffering, depletion and loss of earnings and livelihood. The position would worsen with be proposed dredging for another one year from now and the ship movement there after.

(d). The self employed workers on fishing and related works, would become unemployed and displaced employees. The Government did not provide alternate avenues of employment as is the case, where ever workers are displaced due to projects. The position of 45 thousand workers earning livelihood on fishing and related works on the Rameshwaram island is deplorable, as there is no other means of earning.

(e). It is not the case that the government of Tamilnadu and Central Government are not aware of the displacement of 15 lacks of fish workers. The workers are advised to seek alternate employment, and opened few training Centre of tailoring, etc.,

(f). It is reported that SSCP authorities proposed to bring into operation fishing harbors at Rameswaram, Thondi, Sethubhavachatram and Mallipatnam at a cost of 60 crs. for the benefit of fishermen. This arrangement would not, in any way benefit several lakhs of fishermen conducting fishing operations 160-200 km. stretch of sea coast spreading over six districts from Thuthukudi to Nagapattinam. The main requirement is the availability of fish in the waters, which would be adversly impacted by the SSCP.

(g). The survey revealed that out of 1200 motor boats (i.e. launches) of Rameshwaram island, only 200 are in operation, as they are not able to secure adequate catch of fish, even to meet the expenses of voyage, like diesel oil. Availability of fish is crucial and SSCP would have adverse impact in this regard.

Our considered opinion is that scientific assessment of loss of employment was not made, nor any concrete steps are taken to provide alternate employment.

(h). The fishermen and other workers are in deep debts., and there would be no alternative than to follow the farmers that resorted to suicide, in similar indebtedness.

2. Environment

The Ship Channel and deepening and digging of sea, and breaking of Ram Sethu, and impending disturbance of sea waters and pollutions, by ship movement, would affect ecology and environment.

The Protection against tsunami would be lost; and the people at the sea coast of Tamilnadu would be the sufferers. The memories of Tsunami of 26.12 .2004 is still. haunting the workers.

3. Economics of SSCP.

The anticipated returns from SSCP do not justify the expenditure of 4,000 Crores.

The SSCP has no justifications against the loss of earnings of 15 lacks workers. At the stake of environment, on going SSCP is not justified. Accordingly we tender our Strong objections to SSCP.

Be pleased to consider. Yours Sincerely,

(R.V. SUBBARAO) (N.M. SUKUMARAN)

All India Vice President, BMS. General Secretary

Akhil Bharathiya Mathsya Mazdoor Maha Sangh

BHARATIYA MAZDOOR SANGH

RAM NARESH BHAVAN, TILAK GALI, PAHAR GANJ, NEW DELHI – 110055 (INDIA)

Tele: (011) 2358 2648, 2358 4212, Fax: 91-11 2358 2648,

e-mail: bms@indiya.com, bms@org.in

Ref No: .BMS/TN/108/07 Date: 9.11.2007

Press note.

Tamilnadu Fish workers doomed.

‘The fish-wealth in the Palk Bay depleted on account of the ongoing dredging operations by the Sethusamudram Ship Cannel Project, (SSCP), since the last four months’, has been the complaint of the Fishermen, and other workers engaged in supporting activities. Their means of livelihood is affected, which is obvious. A joint team of Bharatiya Shramshod Mandal, Pune, consiting of Dr.Sia Ram Sharma, Director, and Dr. Rajiv Ranjan, Co-Director, and Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh consisting of Sri R.V.Subba Rao, Vice President, BMS, Sri N.M.Sukumaran, Secretary, BMS, Sri Shankara Subramanyn, Secretary, Tamlinadu BMS, Sri Muniasamy, Pramukh, Seva Bharati, Sri Mathialagan, State Secretary, Tamilnadu Minavar Sangham, Sri Saravanan, General Secretary, Ramanathapuram Mavatta Bharatiya Minavar Sangham conducted survey at Rameswaram island, during 25th to 30th October, 2007.

The Government of India and the Government of Tamilnadu are implementing the SSCP, to make a passage for ships through the Palk Bay and Gulf of Mannar on the Tamilnadu Coast. The dredging operations disturbed the peace of the sea waters. The oil spillage and leakage, and exhausts from the ships and machines polluted the sea waters. Breeding area and plants are destroyed at places, where the material dug out from the sea bed (dredging operations) is dumped. In the result the fish wealth in the sea depleted. The Authorities restricted the movement of the Fishermen and their boats in the area which is marked for navigation of ships and where the dredging operations are going on currently, and cut off the nets, mercilessly. The fishermen are not getting sufficient catch and are unable to meet the expenses of fishing voyage, like cost of diesel oil. High rated fish, ‘sela’ is not available, lamented the fishermen. Activities related to fishing like sorting of fish, preservation, drying, ice factory, transport, marketing, export, local marketing etc. experiencing less work or no work. If this is the impact during the dredging operations, (which will continue for one year), what would be the fate, with the commencement of ship navigation, is the question haunting the workers.

The SSCP would destroy the livelihood of 15 lakh workers, spread over 200 Km. of sea coast, covering six districts of Tamilnadu. Ours is a Welfare State, and providing employment, creating avenues of employment has been the objective, but this is not taken care of in this case. Whenever and where ever, the existing employment is threatened or closed, the Governments have been offering compensation for the losses and providing alternate avenues of employment. In this case, no such steps are declared. It is not the case that the Authorities are not aware of the devastation of employment on a large scale. The workers were advised, a year ago, to search for alternate employments like nursing. Tailoring training centers were opened. Can this solve the displacement of 15 lakh workers? It is reported that the Authorities proposed to bring into operation four shipping harbors at Rameswaram, Thondi, Sethubhavachatram and Mallipatnam, at a cost of 60 crs. This arrangement would not, in any way benefit several lakhs of workers engaged in fishing and related operations spreading over 200 km coast line. Availability of fish and growth of fish is crucial, which the SSCP would impact. At Rameswaram Island, out of 1200 motor boats, only 200 are in operation, as they are not able to secure adequate catch of fish, on voyage, even to meet the expenses of voyage, like the cost of diesel oil.

The self employed fishermen and workers in the supporting activities would become unemployed, and would face starvation as no other avenues are created. The workers are in deep and perennial debts, and there is no other way to them, than to follow the farmers that are resorting to suicides, unable to realize adequate returns on the farm produce and repay loans. The workers are in a depressed mood and worried as the devastation is staring at them. There is no other means of earnings in the Rameswaram Island, and the workers may have to migrate. Whether the anticipated returns of 200 crs. per anum from the ship navigation of SSCP justify devastation of the employment of 15 lakhs of workers ? Can the gains of SSCP supplement the GDP loss (on fishery)?

Geographically, there was a pedestrian passage from Rameswaram towards east to Sri Lanka via Dhanushkodi and Ram Sethu (Ramar Palam), connecting Talai Mannar on the West Coast of Sri Lanka. Which was in use up to the end of 19th Century. This passage separated the sea waters in between India and Sri Lanka, into Palk Bay on the North and Gulf of Mannar to the South. Besides, it formed a formidable wall in the sea waters which made the sea waters peaceful, providing safe growth for thousands of varieties of fish, costly fish and other marine beings and rare coral reefs. The SSCP would destroy the peace of the sea waters, and environment and ecology of the region. Ram Sethu has been protecting the southern parts of Tamil Nadu and up to Kerala from tsunamis, and the protection offered during the devastating tsunami of December, 2004 is fresh in very ones memory. Whether the SSCP is justified against this devastation?

Accordingly, a delegation of BMS and Bharatiya Shramshodh Mandal submitted objections against the SSCP, before the Expert Committee, Chennai, set up by the Government.

R.V.Subba Rao, Vice President, BMS.

Annexure:-

Lr. To the expert committee Chennai, dated 29-10-2007.

Tamilnadu Fish workers doomed

The Govt. of India is implementing the SSCP (Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project) in the Palk Strait and Gulf of Mannar, to make passage for ships at an estimated cost of 4000 crs. expecting a revenue of 200 cr. per annum. Dredging Operations (Channel digging) Commenced about 3 months ago, threatened the marine life in the sea waters and 15 lakh workers living in Fishing & related works are at the verge of doom.

To asses the situation and impact of the SSCP on the employment of workers, a team of Bharatiya Shramshod Mandal, Pune, (Maharastra) conducted survey, met the workers at Rameswaram Island from 25th to 30th October, 2007. The Team consisted of Dr. Sia Ram Sharma, Project Director, Dr. Rajiv Ranjan, Co-Director, Sri R.V. Subba rao, Vice President BMS, Sri Shankara Subramanyan, Secretary, BMS (Tamilnadu), Sri Mathialagan, State Secretary, Tamilnadu Bharatiya Minavar Sangam, Sri Saravanan, General Secretary, Ramanathapuram Mavatta Bharatiya Minavar Sangam and Sri Muniasamy, Pramukh, Seva Bharathi.

Out of the 60,000 population of Rameswaram Island, Temple provides employment to 10,000 and 45,000 make their living by fishing and allied operations, and the rest on jobs related to bazaar-shop. It is note worthy that at Rameshwaram, there is no other avenue of employment for earning, like agriculture or handicrafts.

Geographically there was a pedestrian passage from Rameswaram towards east to Srilanka via Dhanuskodi and Ramar Palam (Ram Sethu) connecting Talai Mannar on the west coast of Srilanka which was in use up to the beginning of 20th century. This passage separates sea waters in between India and Srilanka into Palk Strait on the north, and Gulf of Mannar to the south. Besides, it formed a formidable wall in the sea waters which made the sea peaceful, providing safe growth for thousands of varieties of fish, costly fish, other marine beings and rare coral reefs. This peace is disturbed by the dredging operations for SSCP since last 3 months, and polluted the waters by spillage/leakage of diesel / crude oil from the ship engines and exhaust of effluents, impacting the growth of fish, and high rated high quality fish. “Sela” a high rated fish is not available, after the commencement of dredging, complained the Fishers. The place where the earth and other dredged (dug out) material is being dumped would subject the fish to extinction. Restrictions are imposed on the Fishers and their boats for fishing operations in the area meant for the navigation of ships, and where dredging operations are going on, by the authorities, for security and other reasons impacting their opportunity to voyage, and fishing. Depletion of fish wealth in the sea, and restrictions on the movement of Fishermen and their Boats, have become a threat for the very existence of lakhs workers living traditionally on Fishing & related operations. The Situation would become worse with the completion of dredging operations, and the movement of ships, the workers lamented.

The self employed Fishermen would become no employed or unemployed and would face starvation deaths as there are no other avenues of employment in the Rameshwaram island. The workers are in deep and perennial debts and there is no other way than to resort to suicides as in the case of Farmers / Agriculturist, who are unable to get proper value and remuneration for their produce and repay loans. The workers are in depressed mood at the doom staring at them. The workers are disheartened that the govt. did not spelt out alternative employment

It is reported that SSCP authorities proposed to bring into operation fishing harbors at Rameswaram, Thondi, Sethubhavachatram and Mallipatnam at a cost of 60 crs. For the benefit of fishermen. This arrangement would not, in any way benefit several lakhs of fishermen conducting fishing operations 160-200 km. stretch of sea coast spreading over six districts from Thuthukudi to Nagapattinam. The main requirement is the availability of fish in the waters, which would be adversely impacted by the SSCP.

At Rameshwaram Island, out of 1200 motor boats only 200 are in operation, as they are not able to secure adequate catch of fish, even to meet the expenses of voyage, like diesel oil. Availability of fish is crucial and SSCP would have adverse impact in this regard.

Ours is a Welfare State wherever the avenues of employment are depleted or extinguished, the Govt. would come forward with proposals for alternate employment. In the instant case it is felt that neither the Governments.(either of the Centre or State) made assessment of loss of employment and the number of workers that would be displaced by the SSCP nor declared any alternate means of livelihood. The workers reported to the team, that Government officers advised the workers to search for alternative employments and for the purpose opened Tailoring Training center at one or two places. Also advised the workers to undergo training as nurses on medial side. This shows that the govt. is aware of the loss of employment on a large scale. It may be concluded that the govt. is not interested to spell out alternatives and is callous to the needs of workers that are facing displacement by SSCP.

The BMS team felt that loss of employment in a large scale is imminent; and alternative is not is sight. Do the gains of SSCP justify the loss of lively hood of over 15 lakh workers?

The govt. is not minding the issues of Pollution of the environment and threat to ecology, by the SSCP. All the scientists are unanimous that the Ram Sethu has been protecting the sea coast from tsunami since centuries. The protection provided to southern parts of Rameswaram from the devastation of tsunami of the 26.12.2004 is fresh in memory. Distruction of Ram Sethu for SSCP augurs distruction, towards south of Rameswaram and up to Kerala. The Srilanka expressed that the ship movements by SSCP would destroy marine life on their side too.

Why the govt. of Tamilnadu and Central Govt. going ahead with implementation of SSCP in spite of impending calamity to workers & environment?

On 29-10-2007, the team of Bharatiya Shramshod Mandal and Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh filed objections to the SSCP, on behalf of the Fishermen and workers, before the Experts Committee on the SSCP, Chennai, constituted by the Government.

Chennai, Tamilnadu, Dr. Sia Ram Sharma, Director,

29-10-2007. Bharatiya Shramshod Mandal

Sri R.V.Subba Rao, Vice President, . Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh.

Rama Setu & the need to save ecosphere http://kalyan97.wordpress.com/2007/11/13/1245/

Rama Sethu & the need to save ecosphere

Tuesday, 13 November, 2007 , 01:28 PM (News Today Editions, 9 and 10 November 2007)

A huge environmental disaster in the making, the Sethusamudram project will cause irreparable damage to the fragile biosphere reserve. Moreover, the dredging project will lead to erosion in the coastal areas and also endanger marine species.

The ingress of the ocean submerging coast lands is an ongoing phenomenon linked to plate tectonics. Boats were tossed out like toys in Nagappattinam on 26 December 2004 when tsunami struck the Tamilnadu coastline.

.The Gulf of Mannar near Rama Sethu (Adam’s Bridge) is a fragile ecosystem and any short-sighed policy of the government of India will put the entire coastline at risk.

The marine region is also referred to as Rama’s hotspot, given the intensity of heat flows, apart from evidences for dormant volcanoes (Mannar volcanics are dated back to 105 million years), the region is riddled with fault lines.

The report in Nature magazine of issue dated 6 September 2007 points to the continuous movement of tectonic plates evidenced by a tsunami in 1762 and again in 2004 which pointed to the high probability of another tsunami which will be more devastating than the one which occurred in December 2004 when 260,000 lives were lost.

This impending tsunami is stated to put 60 to 70 million people along the coasts of Bay of Bengal at risk.
Professor CSP Iyer with whom I have been associated and who participated in an international seminar on Scientific and Security Aspects of Sethusamudram Project had pointed out that the project which cuts through Rama Sethu should be shelved.

The project would destroy the remarkable natural tsunami-protection wall — Rama Sethu with unpredictable consequences on ocean current flows and even climate systems, aspects which should be subjected to detailed multi-disciplinary and scientific studies.

Unlike the Great Barrier Reef of Australia, Rama Sethu has always been called a bridge since it connected India and Sri Lanka as a land-bridge across the Indian Ocean (Gulf of Mannar bioreserve which harboured a rich and unique ecosystem). Professor Iyer has now participated in the Centre for Innovation in Science and Social Action (CISSA), a Thiruvananthapuram-based group of scientists, technologists and environmental activists which urged the Central government to shelve the the shipping canal project

The canal project had the potential to trigger a series of ecological catastrophes along the Indian coast in the long run, apart from the adverse environmental impact which would be immense. The excavation of the region and effluents from ships will impact on the rich biodiversity all along the Indian coast. The panel led by Professor Iyer who is also former head of Centre for Marine Analytical Reference and Standards (CMARS) said the proposed realignment of the shipping canal to avoid the Adam’s Bridge was not a solution.

‘From 1961 onwards, four alignments were considered for a navigable route connecting the east and west coasts of India,’ the panel said. Iyer noted that the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report for the Sethu project had failed to take into account the tsunami or the frequent cyclones hitting the east coast. Dr Rajendran of the Centre for Earth Science Studies said the EIA had not considered the high sedimentation rate of the Palk Bay.

Apart from navigational hazards resulting from a mid-ocean channel passage being subjected to periodic cyclones making it extremely risky to salvage a grounded vessel, continuous navigation is likely to trigger ecological imbalance, affect habitats of aquatic resources such as corals, sea-cow (dugong), green turtle and affect the lives of millions of coastal people whose livelihood is integrally linked to the marine biosphere with 24 marine national parks hugging the coastline of southern India.

Olive Ridley turtles which migrated between Setutirtha (India) and Mahatittha (Sri Lanka) would face extinction. The breeding grounds of over 3,500 aquatic species of flora and fauna would be lost when waters from Bay of Bengal rush into the Gulf of Mannar in a constant stream through a channel created by the Sethu project.

Sea grasses and manila reefs (algae) are photoplyktons accounting for the free oxygen of the ecosphere, mitigating the ill-effects of carbon dioxide. The reefs slow-down the waves and act as a natural protection against the onrush of sea currents and thus prevent erosion of the coasts.

It will be a travesty of development if such a situation is created by cutting a channel through a natural barrier of reefs, sand banks and stone constituting Rama Sethu. Over 80 Sri Lankan islands would be at risk of erosion and getting flooded. In fact, 34 Sri Lankan experts have warned that any damage to the limestone fresh water caves in Rama Sethu is likely to devastate fresh water supplies to Jaffna (Sri Lanka) and Rameswaram (India).

The last tsunami brought in a huge volume of sediments into the Palk Bay – Gulf of Mannar that in some places, the sea bed had risen by as much as 200 metres. It is a nightmare even to contemplate a scenario of oil spills if 30,000 DWT vessels carrying oil products were to pollute the ecosphere.

It will take millennia to restore the ecosphere to its natural state in the region if Sethusamudram project is put through without compassion and careful evaluation of all aspects related to the impact of the ecology and marine reserves.

What has taken millions of years to form corals like the turbinella pyrum will be destroyed in one shot by dredging and blasting in the area. What if a nuclear submarine sank there? What would the consequences be in such an eventuality? How many hundreds of years would it take to clean up the mess?

.

The coral reefs unique to the marine bioreserve at the Gulf of Mannar represent over 8,500- year-old industry that yields s’ankha (turbinella pyrum) which is considered sacred in the Hindu religion. The bangles made of the s’ankha adorn young brides in West Bengal.

Rama Sethu was mentioned in ancient literature and it was shortlisted for being labeled an international heritage monument by the World Heritage Watch List based in New York. The ongoing destruction is on the scale of destruction of the Bamiyan Buddha calling the monument a mere stone.
It is time for environmentalists of the world to come together and save Rama Sethu.

Sir A R Mudaliar Committee Report 1956 said: Choose canal, NOT mid-ocean channel passage. Reasons: Shifting sandbanks; no possibility of construction of protective works; and navigational hazard. Channel would border on the Sethusamudram Medial Line. ‘In these circumstances, we have no doubt whatever that the junction between the two seas should be effected by a canal; and the idea of cutting a passage in the sea through Adam’s Bridge should be abandoned.’

Breach of coastline security
Rama Sethu is a tsunami protection wall which saved the coastline of Tamilnadu, Kerala and west coast during the tsunami of 26 December, 2004. It is impermissible to damage such a protective structure impairing the integrity and security of the nation.

A report in scientific journal Nature on 6 September 2007 and carried in major newspapers of the world said there was an imminent threat of tsunami more devastating than the one in 2004. The report states that about 60 – 70 million people of the east coast of India will be at risk. In view of the seriousness of this scientific report, the Central government should immediately suspend all project works along the coastline which could be resumed only after a detailed, multi-disciplinary investigation of the threat to national security and integrity.

Rama Sethu should be deemed an ancient monument and a world heritage under UNESCO. The logo of Survey of India mentions aa setu himachalam, meaning: from Sethu to Himalayas as Bharatam. This is thus a national metaphor, defining the boundaries of ancient India.

Madras Presidency Administration Report, 1903 and a Travelogue, 1744 refer to the bridge; Glossary entry for Adam’s Bridge: ‘Called the bridge of Rama. It really joined Ceylon to India until 1480, when a breach was made through rocks during a storm. A subsequent storm enlarged this and foot traffic then ceased. Partly above and partly below water; but when covered has now here above three or four feet of water.’

Asiatic Society, 1799, Asiatick Researches: Or, Transactions of the Society Instituted in Bengal, P 52 refers to the bridge called Setband (alternative spelling, setuband like Allahband; setu-bandha), broken in three places. It also notes: ‘The people call it a bridge; or otherwise it appears to have wood growing on it, and to be inhabited.’ English word ‘bund’ comes from Bharatiya word: bandha as in setubandha.

Numismatic evidence

Ancient Sethu (Aryachakravarti) coins of Jaffna, 13th century and Parantaka Chola copper plate (10th century). Copper plate inscription of Parantaka Chola. The copper plates indicate that Aparajitavarman went to Setutirtha.

Rama Sethu in sculptures

Stone steles from the Ramayana wall carvings at Prambanan temple in Java, Indonesia, that were built during the 9 – 10 centuries; Setubandha venerated as sacred tirtha by Alwars and Nayanmars; and Rameswaram is one of the 12 jyotirlinga sthalams for the pilgrimage to Ganga river is complete only after the pilgrimage to Rameswaram and Setutirtham.

Court orders

Evidence for Rama Sethu accepted. Courts use the word Rama Sethu / Adam’s Bridge. High Court noted: Sir A Ramaswamy Mudaliar Committee expressly rejected the idea of cutting a channel through the bridge and said that the idea should be abandoned.

Ramanathapuram judge: ‘Final opinion could be pronounced only after subjecting their documents to thorough scrutiny with the opinions of experts in the field (archaeology and geology).’

Supreme Court order: ‘Till September 14, the alleged Rama Sethu / Adam’s bridge shall not be damaged in any manner. Dredging activity may be carried out so long as it does not damage Rama Sethu.’

Scientific results

Department of Earth Sciences noted in their report of March 2007, based on the report of a consultant that around Rameswaram there are raised Teri formations that supported a rich assemblage of mesolithic – microlithic tools indicating the presence of strong human habitation and activity in these areas as early as 8000 to 9000 years B P and as recent as 4000 years B P.

On Sri Lanka there are indications of human habitation extending to late Pleistocene (about 13,000 B P) based on bone and fossils of human and animal form. All these point to a flourishing human activity on both sides of Adams Bridge and probably when the sea levels were just right the link between India and Sri Lanka could have been established.

Rama’s hotspot

Heat flow in Rama Sethu 100 to 180 milliwatt per sq m comparable to Himalayan hot springs. Will dredging at Gulf of Mannar activate these heat zones? It is a criminal act of negligence that the work commenced without consulting the Geological Survey of India which is mandated to provide guidance for such projects.

If a land-based canal alignment is chosen, it will be possible to provide locks on either end of the canal to prevent disturbance to ocean habitats of aquatic resources mandated under the Law of the Sea. The protection walls against tsunami for any canal project should be provided: example, tsunami wall in Japan. The project does NOT include such protection measures. In fact, NEERI report did not even taken into account past history of cyclones and tsunamis.

Suez canal uses special bollards every 200 feet to salvage a grounded vessel. Such bollards are possible only if a land-based canal is used. According to Captain Balakrishnan, the saving in time from Kolkata to Tuticorin for a ship will be only 1.5 hours.

Is it viable to cross channel at six nautical miles paying pilotage charges (approx Rs 5 lakh per passage)? Even many small ships with only 30,000 DWT (dead weight tonnes) may prefer to navigate around Sri Lanka instead of using the channel.

Time is short and it is important for environmentalists around the world to join hands and prevent the damage to our planet.  

http://www.newstodaynet.com/col.php?section=20&catid=29&id=1873

http://www.newstodaynet.com/col.php?section=20&catid=29&id=1876


Rama Setu: GOI should declare as ancient monument

November 13, 2007

Tuesday November 13 2007 00:00 IST (Dinamani Tamil daily)

Rama Gopalan’s demand for declaring Rama Setu as Ancient National

Monument

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http://tinyurl.com/2qwtq6


Rama Setu & the need to save ecosphere

November 13, 2007

Rama Sethu & the need to save ecosphere

S. Kalyanaraman

Tuesday, 13 November, 2007 , 01:28 PM (News Today Editions, 9 and 10 November 2007)

A huge environmental disaster in the making, the Sethusamudram project will cause irreparable damage to the fragile biosphere reserve. Moreover, the dredging project will lead to erosion in the coastal areas and also endanger marine species.

The ingress of the ocean submerging coast lands is an ongoing phenomenon linked to plate tectonics. Boats were tossed out like toys in Nagappattinam on 26 December 2004 when tsunami struck the Tamilnadu coastline.

.The Gulf of Mannar near Rama Sethu (Adam’s Bridge) is a fragile ecosystem and any short-sighed policy of the government of India will put the entire coastline at risk.

The marine region is also referred to as Rama’s hotspot, given the intensity of heat flows, apart from evidences for dormant volcanoes (Mannar volcanics are dated back to 105 million years), the region is riddled with fault lines.

The report in Nature magazine of issue dated 6 September 2007 points to the continuous movement of tectonic plates evidenced by a tsunami in 1762 and again in 2004 which pointed to the high probability of another tsunami which will be more devastating than the one which occurred in December 2004 when 260,000 lives were lost.

This impending tsunami is stated to put 60 to 70 million people along the coasts of Bay of Bengal at risk.
Professor CSP Iyer with whom I have been associated and who participated in an international seminar on Scientific and Security Aspects of Sethusamudram Project had pointed out that the project which cuts through Rama Sethu should be shelved.

The project would destroy the remarkable natural tsunami-protection wall — Rama Sethu with unpredictable consequences on ocean current flows and even climate systems, aspects which should be subjected to detailed multi-disciplinary and scientific studies.

Unlike the Great Barrier Reef of Australia, Rama Sethu has always been called a bridge since it connected India and Sri Lanka as a land-bridge across the Indian Ocean (Gulf of Mannar bioreserve which harboured a rich and unique ecosystem). Professor Iyer has now participated in the Centre for Innovation in Science and Social Action (CISSA), a Thiruvananthapuram-based group of scientists, technologists and environmental activists which urged the Central government to shelve the the shipping canal project

The canal project had the potential to trigger a series of ecological catastrophes along the Indian coast in the long run, apart from the adverse environmental impact which would be immense. The excavation of the region and effluents from ships will impact on the rich biodiversity all along the Indian coast. The panel led by Professor Iyer who is also former head of Centre for Marine Analytical Reference and Standards (CMARS) said the proposed realignment of the shipping canal to avoid the Adam’s Bridge was not a solution.

‘From 1961 onwards, four alignments were considered for a navigable route connecting the east and west coasts of India,’ the panel said. Iyer noted that the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report for the Sethu project had failed to take into account the tsunami or the frequent cyclones hitting the east coast. Dr Rajendran of the Centre for Earth Science Studies said the EIA had not considered the high sedimentation rate of the Palk Bay.

Apart from navigational hazards resulting from a mid-ocean channel passage being subjected to periodic cyclones making it extremely risky to salvage a grounded vessel, continuous navigation is likely to trigger ecological imbalance, affect habitats of aquatic resources such as corals, sea-cow (dugong), green turtle and affect the lives of millions of coastal people whose livelihood is integrally linked to the marine biosphere with 24 marine national parks hugging the coastline of southern India.

Olive Ridley turtles which migrated between Setutirtha (India) and Mahatittha (Sri Lanka) would face extinction. The breeding grounds of over 3,500 aquatic species of flora and fauna would be lost when waters from Bay of Bengal rush into the Gulf of Mannar in a constant stream through a channel created by the Sethu project.

Sea grasses and manila reefs (algae) are photoplyktons accounting for the free oxygen of the ecosphere, mitigating the ill-effects of carbon dioxide. The reefs slow-down the waves and act as a natural protection against the onrush of sea currents and thus prevent erosion of the coasts.

It will be a travesty of development if such a situation is created by cutting a channel through a natural barrier of reefs, sand banks and stone constituting Rama Sethu. Over 80 Sri Lankan islands would be at risk of erosion and getting flooded. In fact, 34 Sri Lankan experts have warned that any damage to the limestone fresh water caves in Rama Sethu is likely to devastate fresh water supplies to Jaffna (Sri Lanka) and Rameswaram (India).

The last tsunami brought in a huge volume of sediments into the Palk Bay – Gulf of Mannar that in some places, the sea bed had risen by as much as 200 metres. It is a nightmare even to contemplate a scenario of oil spills if 30,000 DWT vessels carrying oil products were to pollute the ecosphere.

It will take millennia to restore the ecosphere to its natural state in the region if Sethusamudram project is put through without compassion and careful evaluation of all aspects related to the impact of the ecology and marine reserves.

What has taken millions of years to form corals like the turbinella pyrum will be destroyed in one shot by dredging and blasting in the area. What if a nuclear submarine sank there? What would the consequences be in such an eventuality? How many hundreds of years would it take to clean up the mess?

.

The coral reefs unique to the marine bioreserve at the Gulf of Mannar represent over 8,500- year-old industry that yields s’ankha (turbinella pyrum) which is considered sacred in the Hindu religion. The bangles made of the s’ankha adorn young brides in West Bengal.

Rama Sethu was mentioned in ancient literature and it was shortlisted for being labeled an international heritage monument by the World Heritage Watch List based in New York. The ongoing destruction is on the scale of destruction of the Bamiyan Buddha calling the monument a mere stone.
It is time for environmentalists of the world to come together and save Rama Sethu.

Sir A R Mudaliar Committee Report 1956 said: Choose canal, NOT mid-ocean channel passage. Reasons: Shifting sandbanks; no possibility of construction of protective works; and navigational hazard. Channel would border on the Sethusamudram Medial Line. ‘In these circumstances, we have no doubt whatever that the junction between the two seas should be effected by a canal; and the idea of cutting a passage in the sea through Adam’s Bridge should be abandoned.’

Breach of coastline security
Rama Sethu is a tsunami protection wall which saved the coastline of Tamilnadu, Kerala and west coast during the tsunami of 26 December, 2004. It is impermissible to damage such a protective structure impairing the integrity and security of the nation.

A report in scientific journal Nature on 6 September 2007 and carried in major newspapers of the world said there was an imminent threat of tsunami more devastating than the one in 2004. The report states that about 60 – 70 million people of the east coast of India will be at risk. In view of the seriousness of this scientific report, the Central government should immediately suspend all project works along the coastline which could be resumed only after a detailed, multi-disciplinary investigation of the threat to national security and integrity.

Rama Sethu should be deemed an ancient monument and a world heritage under UNESCO. The logo of Survey of India mentions aa setu himachalam, meaning: from Sethu to Himalayas as Bharatam. This is thus a national metaphor, defining the boundaries of ancient India.

Madras Presidency Administration Report, 1903 and a Travelogue, 1744 refer to the bridge; Glossary entry for Adam’s Bridge: ‘Called the bridge of Rama. It really joined Ceylon to India until 1480, when a breach was made through rocks during a storm. A subsequent storm enlarged this and foot traffic then ceased. Partly above and partly below water; but when covered has now here above three or four feet of water.’

Asiatic Society, 1799, Asiatick Researches: Or, Transactions of the Society Instituted in Bengal, P 52 refers to the bridge called Setband (alternative spelling, setuband like Allahband; setu-bandha), broken in three places. It also notes: ‘The people call it a bridge; or otherwise it appears to have wood growing on it, and to be inhabited.’ English word ‘bund’ comes from Bharatiya word: bandha as in setubandha.

Numismatic evidence

Ancient Sethu (Aryachakravarti) coins of Jaffna, 13th century and Parantaka Chola copper plate (10th century). Copper plate inscription of Parantaka Chola. The copper plates indicate that Aparajitavarman went to Setutirtha.

Rama Sethu in sculptures

Stone steles from the Ramayana wall carvings at Prambanan temple in Java, Indonesia, that were built during the 9 – 10 centuries; Setubandha venerated as sacred tirtha by Alwars and Nayanmars; and Rameswaram is one of the 12 jyotirlinga sthalams for the pilgrimage to Ganga river is complete only after the pilgrimage to Rameswaram and Setutirtham.

Court orders

Evidence for Rama Sethu accepted. Courts use the word Rama Sethu / Adam’s Bridge. High Court noted: Sir A Ramaswamy Mudaliar Committee expressly rejected the idea of cutting a channel through the bridge and said that the idea should be abandoned.

Ramanathapuram judge: ‘Final opinion could be pronounced only after subjecting their documents to thorough scrutiny with the opinions of experts in the field (archaeology and geology).’

Supreme Court order: ‘Till September 14, the alleged Rama Sethu / Adam’s bridge shall not be damaged in any manner. Dredging activity may be carried out so long as it does not damage Rama Sethu.’

Scientific results

Department of Earth Sciences noted in their report of March 2007, based on the report of a consultant that around Rameswaram there are raised Teri formations that supported a rich assemblage of mesolithic – microlithic tools indicating the presence of strong human habitation and activity in these areas as early as 8000 to 9000 years B P and as recent as 4000 years B P.

On Sri Lanka there are indications of human habitation extending to late Pleistocene (about 13,000 B P) based on bone and fossils of human and animal form. All these point to a flourishing human activity on both sides of Adams Bridge and probably when the sea levels were just right the link between India and Sri Lanka could have been established.

Rama’s hotspot

Heat flow in Rama Sethu 100 to 180 milliwatt per sq m comparable to Himalayan hot springs. Will dredging at Gulf of Mannar activate these heat zones? It is a criminal act of negligence that the work commenced without consulting the Geological Survey of India which is mandated to provide guidance for such projects.

If a land-based canal alignment is chosen, it will be possible to provide locks on either end of the canal to prevent disturbance to ocean habitats of aquatic resources mandated under the Law of the Sea. The protection walls against tsunami for any canal project should be provided: example, tsunami wall in Japan. The project does NOT include such protection measures. In fact, NEERI report did not even taken into account past history of cyclones and tsunamis.

Suez canal uses special bollards every 200 feet to salvage a grounded vessel. Such bollards are possible only if a land-based canal is used. According to Captain Balakrishnan, the saving in time from Kolkata to Tuticorin for a ship will be only 1.5 hours.

Is it viable to cross channel at six nautical miles paying pilotage charges (approx Rs 5 lakh per passage)? Even many small ships with only 30,000 DWT (dead weight tonnes) may prefer to navigate around Sri Lanka instead of using the channel.

Time is short and it is important for environmentalists around the world to join hands and prevent the damage to our planet.  

http://www.newstodaynet.com/col.php?section=20&catid=29&id=1873

http://www.newstodaynet.com/col.php?section=20&catid=29&id=1876


Rama Setu: Nation-wide agitation

November 12, 2007

Delhi, Nov. 13, 2007

 Statement of Dr. Subramanian Swamy 

The Union Government today told the Supreme Court that the report of the Committee of Eminent Persons on the Sethusamudram Channel Project was not ready and hence could not filed in court yet. Additional Solicitor General Mohan was interveninhg to make this clarification when Janata Party President Dr. Subramanian Swamy rose just before lunch before the First Bench headed by the Chief Justice. Dr. Swamy argued that the Rama Setu matter listed for today cannot be taken up because the Registrar’s Office Report disclosed that neither the new counter affidavit of the Union of India nor the paperbooks tranferred to the SC from the Madras High Court had been filed. The First Bench then adjourned the matter till December 11th.

Nation-wide agitation planned on Ram Sethu issue

Monday, 12 November, 2007, 15:49

Coimbatore: Rameswaram Ram Sethu Protection Movement on Monday said it would hold a nationwide agitation if the Centre failed to declare by November 30 that the Ram Sethu or Adam’s bridge would not be destroyed for implementing the Sethu Samudram Project.

The UPA government should also declare the bridge as a national monument, the movement convenor and working president of Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Vedantham said here.

Briefing reporters on the deliberations of the executive committee meeting of the movement’s Tamil Nadu chapter, held here on Sunday, Vedantham said that it was decided to hold ‘Ramshila Yatra,’ from November 20 to December 10 in all the districts in the country.

Stones and rock pieces would be collected from Rameswaram where it is believed that Lord Rama started building the ‘floating bridge’. These stones and rock pieces would be sent to the districts, to create awareness about the issue among the people, he said.

Alleging that ‘certain vested interests’ in Congress and DMK wanted to destroy the Ram Sethu in retaliation to the demolition of the disputed Babri Masjid structure in Ayodhya, to appease Muslim community, Vedantham cautioned that the Centre would be solely responsible and accountable for the violence in the aftermath of destruction of Ram Sethu.

When asked about the future course of action of the movement, he said Mutt heads and saints would meet at Ayodhya on Tuesday and also at Chennai on November 17, to discuss the strategy. Tamil Nadu would be the central point of the agitation, Vedantham said.

http://sify.com/news/fullstory.php?id=14559263

Monday, Nov. 12, 2007

Nation-wide agitation by Rameswaram Ram Sethu Protection Movement

Rameswaram Ram Sethu Protection Movement on Monday said it would hold a nation-wide agitation if the Centre failed to declare by November 30 that the Ram Sethu or Adam’s bridge would not be destroyed for implementing the Sethu Samudram Project.

The UPA government should also declare the bridge as a national monument, the movement convenor and working president of Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Vedantham said here.
Briefing reporters on the deliberations of the executive committee meeting of the movement’s Tamil Nadu chapter, held on Sunday, Vedantham said that it was decided to hold ‘Ramshila Yatra,’ from November 20 to December 10 in all the districts in the country.

Stones and rock pieces would be collected from Rameswaram where it is believed that Lord Rama started building the ‘floating bridge’. These stones and rock pieces would be sent to the districts, to create awareness about the issue among the people, he said.

http://enewsindia.blogspot.com/2007/11/nationa-wide-agitation-by-rameswaram.html

Centre criticized for excluding key experts from Sethu panel

Priyanka P. Narain (Oct. 23, 2007)

A motley group of scientists, politicians and fishermen have accused the government of bias, alleging that the committee formed to hear public grievances against the Sethusamudram project purposely excludes outside scientists and conservationists.

This came even as shipping minister T.R. Baalu reiterated the government’s commitment to the project and said he expects it to be completed by November 2008.

Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy, for one, said he will file a petition in the Supreme Court, asking it to intervene in the committee appointments and ensure a fair hearing.

Swamy also plans to meet his former political rival, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader J. Jayalalithaa, to form an alliance against the controversial project to dredge the Adam’s Bridge, also known as Ram Sethu after the belief it was built by Ram.

“The panel is biased and all these public hearings are going to happen in Chennai,” said Swamy, who says he is on the same side as the local fishermen who can’t afford to travel all the way to Chennai to participate in the hearings. “It is being treated as a Tamil Nadu panel when it should be a national one.”

To address criticism of its plans to dredge the channel, the government appointed a 10-member panel of “eminent persons” to hold public hearings in early November.

While the panel includes bureaucrats, professors and academics, it does not include conservationists or scientists from organizations such as the National Institute of Ocean Technology or the Geological Survey of India (GSI), which usually play a key role in such public projects.

Critics say the head of the panel, S. Ramachandran, chairman of the project’s environmental impact committee and vice-chancellor of Madras University, is biased since he gave his clearance long ago. His phone rang unanswered on Monday.

The committee also includes the author of an environmental impact report that gave the green light to the project, though the critics might find an ally in him after all. Deputy director of the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, S.R. Wate, said that when he wrote his report he was not aware of a rock bed on the Sethu.

If he had had that information, the institute would not have given the project environmental clearance, he told Mint last month.

“The region is a marine biosphere,” he said. “Any blasting will destroy…fragile ecology. We simply cannot risk it.” Wate did not return phone calls on Monday.

Another contentious member is R.S. Sharma, a historian and a former history professor at Delhi University, known for controversial statements questioning the historical existence of Ram and Krishna. Observers wonder why someone whose position is so well-known was selected.

director R. One scientist called the committee an “eyewash.” Former GSI Gopalakrishnan asked: “If you are looking at something that can be a national monument, doesn’t it make sense to have an archaeologist in there? There is no one from the navy to look at the security angle either.”

Some critics have claimed that the Rs2,600 crore project, backed by the Union government, opens India to attacks from nearby and war-torn Sri Lanka.

National secretary for the Rameshwaram Ram Sethu Protection Movement, R. Kuppu Ramu, says the fishermen, who stand to be the most affected by the loss of the bridge, are unaware of the committee. “Even if they were, how do you think they will reach Chennai? The committee must come here to talk to them,” he said.

According to the Sethusamudram project website, the previous “public hearings” were conducted in six districts between September 2004 and February 2005.

All were conducted by district collectors, unlike teams usually assembled from outside, to avoid the appearance of a bias, according to one IAS officer who requested anonymity.

The process employed was “very unusual for a national project like this one,” the officer said.

The Supreme Court has halted dredging on the bridge; the Sethusamudram Corp. Ltd website says dredging in the Palk Straits is nearly half done, with a quarter done north of the bridge.

http://www.livemint.com/2007/10/23001646/Centre-criticized-for-excludin.html

FM gives assurance on Sethu
Right Direction

New Delhi, Nov. 12: Finance Minister P Chidambaram today said the government would go ahead with the Sethusamudram project.

“There is no reason to believe that the project will not be implemented,” he said at the Economic Editors conference.

The project was opposed by the BJP and other Sangh organisations on the ground that it would destroy the bridge built by Lord Rama.

Chidambaram said the objections filed before the courts were against the alignment of a part of the channel.

A public interest litigation has been filed before the Supreme Court, which has asked the government to look into the alignment issue.

“A ten member expert committee has been appointed by the government and the alignment issue will be resolved and the project will be implemented,” he said.

The finance minister’s comment will be sweet music for the DMK, an ally of the Congress-led coalition government. The DMK had demanded that the Centre should go ahead with the project.

Earlier sources said the experts committee received about 20,000 representations, mostly in favour of the project, during the public hearing held in Chennai from October 29 to November 6.

The panel will submit its report to the Centre in the first week of December. Besides the public hearing, the panel also listened to the views of litigants who had moved the Supreme Court against the demolition of the Ram Sethu.

Those who were opposed to the project raised issues such as environmental impact and dredging of the bridge. However, those in favour felt the project would lead to employment generation and an all-round development of coastal Tamil Nadu, the sources added.

http://www.telegraphindia.com/1071113/asp/business/story_8541252.asp


Bharatiya historiography: role of Ramayana and Mahabharata

November 10, 2007

Bharatiya historiography: role of Ramayana and Mahabharata

Bharatiya historiography cannot be straight-jacketed in the present-day contexts or meanings of ‘history’ as a chronicle, a chronology or narration of human progress.

Bharatiya historiography is founded on brahma yajna and many manifestations of knowledge represented by this aadhyaatmika journey of the practitioner, the aatman. Bharatiya historiography is an integral inquiry into phenomena and in relation to one’s station in life and the dharma to be performed for attaining nihs’reyas and abhyudayam.

Brahma yajna is a process of knowing about the cosmos and includes many facets of learning through many sources.

In the context of brahma yajna, Taittiriya Aranyaka notes:

Somaahutibhir yad atharvaangiraso madhvaahutibhir yad braahman.aaneetihaasaan puraan.aani kalpaan gaathaa naaraas’amseer medaahutitirbhirava tad devas tarpati ta enam truptaa aayushaa tejasaa varcasaa s’riyaa yas’asaa brahma varcasena annaadyena ca tarpayanti (2.10)

Chandogya Upanishad (7.1.4) brackets itihaasa and puraan.a with the Veda:

Mimaamsate ca yo vedaan s.ad.bhiangaih savistaraih

Itihaasa puraan.aani sa bhaved veda paragah

(One who studies thoroughly the Veda along with it’s six limbs and the itihaasa and puraan.a becomes a true knower of the Veda)

The list of history related terms are: braahman.a, itihaasa, puraan.a, kalpa, gaathaa naaraas’amsee, aakhyaana

All these terms are in plural. There are many itihaasa, many puraan.a. The tradition holds the Ramayana and Mahabharata to be itihaasa.

The compound, iti-ha-aasa means ‘so indeed it was’.

Puraan.a means ‘belonging to ancient times’.

Aakhyaana means ‘narrations, recitation of historical narrations’ (S’rimadbhagavatam 1.9.28); aakhyaayika means ‘anectode’.

Itivrtta means ‘kaavya’ or literary works or lores, and can be in three forms: naat.aka, nr.tya, keertana.

kalpa is a cycle of creation. For example, kalpa sutra in the Jaina tradition includes the narrations of the lives of Mahavira and other tirthankara.

Gaatha are meditations. One group of 17 sacred texts called Gaatha in the Avestan tradition, referring to the holy songs of Zarathushtra. In Rigveda (1.167.6, 9.11.4), the term, gaatha is used as a reference to a song. In some contexts, gaatha also refers to poetry of legends or aakhyaana (e.g., S’unahs’epa aakhyaana, Supran.a aakhyaana) or to a metrical part of the Bauddha utra.

Naaraas’amsee gaathaa means ‘songs in praise in the Rigveda’. Some also interpret the term as a reference to anecdotes gleaned from the Veda. (For example, in Brihaddevataa, adhyaaya 2, naaras’amsi, pavamaana and jaatavedas are grouped together as songs to divinities including pavamaana soma, personified material; divinities of Rigveda also include tanoonapat and naaras’amsi who are divinities of the apri rica-s indicating idhma as a form of agni; divinities of Rigveda 1.14-15 include tanoonapat, naaras’amsi, il.aa, barhis).

S’ivagita is included in the uttarakanda of Padma Purana. “The Siva Gita begins with episode from the Ramayana epic, where Rama is despondent over the loss of Sita. At this time, Rama is visited by Sage Agastya, and Sage Agastya prescribes to Rama that he should observe a special vow called the Pasupata vrata. By observing this vow Agastya promises that Rama shall have a vision of Lord Siva, and will receive the Pasupata arrow without which Ravana cannot be defeated. Rama performs the vow and at the end of four months receives a divine vision of Siva. Siva presents Rama with the Pasupata arrow, and Rama in turn asks Lord Siva a series of questions. The dialogue between Sri Rama and Lord Siva makes up the bulk of the Siva Gita.”

Some excerpts have been cited from this text of S’ivagita:

[quote]I am the Rg Veda, the Yajur Veda, the Sāma Veda, the Atharvana, full of sacred mantras, and similarly the distinguished Angiras all originate from Me. ||16||
I am the Itihāsas, the Purāņas, I am the kalpa (cycle of creation), and the performer of the rituals. I am the Narasamsi (hymn of Rudra); I am the Gātha (hymn praising Vedic ritual). I am meditation and the secret wisdom. ||17|| [quote]

The brahmayajna verses cited earlier read with this text show that in the scheme of knowledge and the texts to be read and understood include, apart from the Veda, the itihaasa, puraan.a, kalpa, naaras’amsi and gaatha.

Other terms which have a reference to such studies are: aakhyaana, itivr.tta, vams’a, vams’aanucarita. Good example of vams’a and vams’aanucarita are provided in the work of Bana Bhatta, Harshacarita and of Vakpatiraja, Padmagupta, Atula, Bilhana, Bhulokamalla, Jayanaka, Kalhana.

Veda and Puraan.a are sometimes referred to as apaurusheya:

Atharva veda 11.7.24: rcah saamaani chandaamsi puraan.am yajusaa saha

Ucchis.t.ajjajnire sarve divi deva divis’ritah (Rig, Saama, Yajur and Atharva veda, along with the Puraan.a, and all the divinities residing in heavenly planets appeared from the Supreme).

Atharva Veda 15.6.10,12 also lists itihaasa in the following context:

Sa br.hatim dis’amanuvyacalat

Tam itihaasas’ca puraan.am ca gaathaas’ca

Itihaasasya ca sa vai puraan.asya ca gaathaanaam ca

Naaras’amseenaam ca priyamdhama bhavati ya evam veda

(He moved favourably towards Br.hati and thus the itihaasa, puraan.a, gata and naaras’amsee became favourable to him. One who knows this verily becomes the dear abode of the itihaasa and puraan.a and naaras’amsee)

Gopatha Braahman.a Purva 2.10 notes and adds a new term, anvakhyaata:

Evamime sarve veda nirmitah sa kalpah

Sa rahasyah sa braahman.ah sopanis’at.kah

Setihaasah sa anvakhyatah sa puraan.aah

(In this way all the Veda became manifest along with the Kalpa, Rahasya, braahman.a, Upanishad, itihaasa, anvakhyaata and puraan.a)

Note: these citations and translations from Atharva Veda and Gopatha Braahman.a are after http://kkswami.com/faith/Appendix-10-Sri-Tattva-sandarbha.php

Many aberrations and distortions in understanding the ancient hindu civilization arise from a misunderstanding or lack of understanding of the evolution of historiography in Bharatam as a complement to the ultimate purushaartha of upholding dharma in every action and in every inquiry. The aberrations and distortions in Bharatiya Itihaasa have occurred because of this misunderstanding and jumpting to the wrong conclusion that Bharatiya lack a sense of ‘history’ (as defined by the western academics).

History in bharatiya tradition is an vast and expansive continuum in time and space. The sankalpa mantra uttered before beginning the brahma yajna exemplifies this tradition, first locating the practitioner or student in time and space, before proceeding with the s’ikshaa. In this sikshaa which is also a deekshaa, itihaasa is only one part of studying paraa and aparaa vidyaa. Ramayana and Mahabharata are the itihaasa in this hindu civilization continuum. Both these itihaasa should be viewed only in the cultural context in which they have been communicated to the people through many media such as pravacana, naat.aka, puppetry, dance and song. One has only to see the importance of Ramayana by listening to the kriti-s of Tyagaraja, dances of Thailand or of Mahabharata by viewing the puppet shows in Indonesia.

To say that Ramayana and Mahabharata are not ‘historical texts’ is an unfortunate misunderstanding of the context in which these itihaasa are rendered and accepted by many citizens in many parts of the world, in general, of Bharatam, in particular. I submit that Ramayana and Mahabharata are the sheet-anchors of Bharatiya Itihaasa. We have to research on and delve deep into these texts to document a grand narrative of Bharatiya Itihaasa.

Kalyanaraman

10 Nov. 2007

Sarasvati Research Centre. Kalyan97@gmail.com


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