Rama Setu as marine biosphere

Please download the book (31.8 mb) from the following URL, click on the Free button:  http://rapidshare.com/files/31024410/ramasetubook2.doc.html 

http://hinduthought.googlepages.com/alternativealignments.jpg (Alternative alignment 4 is a land-based canal and can replace a mid-ocean channel passage cutting through Rama Setu. This is consistent with Sir A Ramaswamy Mudaliar Committee recommendation of 1956-61).

The following report brings out the seriousness of the situation created by a mid-ocean channel passage of the Setusamudram project alignment. In my view, the most serious impact is on drinking water supply in both Rameswaram area on the Bharatam side and Jaffna area on the Srilanka side, since any attempts at blasting through the limestone foundations of the Rama Setu will devastate the underwater caves containing freshwater. The relevant views of the experts are as follows: [quote ] According to research done in Jaffna, by Sri Lanka born Monash University’s Professor of Systems Ecology and UNDP Consultant Prof. Ranil Senanayake, fresh water fish such as Dandiya (Rasbora Daniconius), Tittaya (Amblypharygnodon Melenittus) and Amblypharygnodon Melenittus, migrate down towards underground caverns and chambers, during dry weather and surface when it rains. This also demonstrates the existence of massive underground freshwater caves off Jaffna, with which the salt water of the Palk Straits would mix, if the dredging continues…Dredging will also reduce the photosynthetic rate, resulting in the collapse of the fishing industry…Ecological and archaeological concerns. Among a host of serious problems, one major issue is that the canal is to be dug through vesicular limestone, which is a formation of limestone, consequent to the myocene sea encroaching upon parts of Northern Sri Lanka and Southern India. This entails Mannar and Jaffna on the Sri Lankan side and Tuticorin and Rameswaran on the Indian side, which means that the groundwater on both sides of the channel, would be affected.[unquote] Thanking you for your consideration, S. Kalyanaraman, Ph.D.,

Former Sr. Exec., Asian Development Bank,

Director, Sarasvati Research Centre,

3 Temple Avenue, Chennai 600015 Tel. 044 22350557 kalyan97@gmail.com

Controversial Sethusamudram canal dredging project
Lankan experts caution against eco disasters

By Ravi Ladduwahetty

http://www.nation.lk/2007/04/22/lankan.jpg

An eminent 34– member advisory group of Sri Lankan professionals have cautioned that the Sethusamudram canal dredging project could have disastrous environment impacts, particularly, maritime environment, for Sri Lanka.

What is most disconcerting is the absence of any response from the Indian Government to the Lankan concerns.

The Group, after a year’s study, submitted their report to Foreign Secretary Dr. Palitha Kohona, earlier this month.

The Experts Group comprised Secretary, Education Ministry Ariyaratne Hewage – Chairman, Peradeniya University Professor of Geography Shantha Hennayake – Deputy Chairman, Special Advisor, Technical Planning & Development, Sri Lanka Ports Authority, Prasanna Weerasinghe and Systems Advisor, Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project (SSCP), Tikiri Jayatilleke.
The Advisory Group was supported by sub committees from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs headed by Assistant Director Sugeesawara Gunatunga, on hydrodynamic modeling headed by Moratuwa University’s Prof of Coastal Engineering Samantha Hettiarachchi, on Environmental Measures for Sustainability headed by the Director, Institute of Technological Studies, Dr Aziz Mubarak, including IUCN Ecologist Dr. Channa Bambaradeniya and Head of Oceanography, NARA, K. Arulananthan, on Fisheries Resources & Livelihood, headed by Head of Marine Biological Resources, NARA, Dr Champa Amarasiri and on Navigational Emergencies headed by Commander Y.N. Jayaratne, Sri Lanka Navy.

The primary concern for Sri Lanka is that the initial dredging, the infinite maintenance dredging and subsequent shipping through the channel, could have negative impacts on Sri Lanka’s maritime and environment resources, sources in the Advisory Group told The Nation yesterday.

Another major Sri Lankan concern which also relates to environment resources, is that the Indian studies have not taken into account the single environment impact on the Sri Lankan side of the international boundary, they said.
The Advisory Group is of the view that, despite the SSCP being located only one mile away from the Indian side of the maritime boundary, the impact is unlikely to remain only on the Indian side and that, Sri Lanka’s concerns have become even more significant, in the light of insufficient attention paid to minimise the environmental aspects on the Lankan side of the boundary.
The Advisory Group has also noted that the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) carried out by India is inadequate for a number of reasons.

The Nation in its edition of January 7, 2007, exclusively reported that, despite the Indian assertion (Commercial Counsellor, Indian High Commission, Colombo, Sanjay Sudhir refers) that it has shared the Ahamedabad based Indian National Environment & Ecological Research Institute (NEERI) report with Sri Lanka, is insufficient justification to prove that there will be no adverse impact on the environment. Simply because, the NEERI report by itself, was flawed and was sufficient legal justification to put the entire NEERI repot into scientific question.

For example, the NEERI report is yet to explain the sedimentation issue, silting possibilities and underwater ocean currents, when the canal is constructed.
According to Sudharshan Rodriguez, a Chennai based conservation analyst, the EIA report furnished by NEERI, has used secondary data going back to 1976. “Hence, how can a project, which will pass through a biological hot spot, with so many likely impacts, be assessed on the basis of secondary data?” is the next most logical question.

The Convenor, Indian Coastal Action Network, Ossie Fernandez has alleged that the NEERI EIA report is also a re-hash of the preliminary report and that, many activists and professionals are querying the data sources, including the bio diversity readings.

Furthermore, there would be increased turbidity, which has never been studied by NEERI, which has neither studied the possibility of a tsunami through the canal water flow, due to the deep water channel linking the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal.

The United Nations Law of the Sea mandates that neighbouring States need to be consulted and sufficient safeguards and guarantees provided.
Fishery resources
There is also concern of the lack of concern on the Indian side, of the unique, biologically rich resource areas linking two Marine Eco systems in the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Bay. Unless accurate forecasts are made of the mitigation effects, it could eventually destroy this fragile marine eco system. This is all the more significant in the light of the Northern and North western communities in Sri Lanka being heavily dependent on the fisheries resources of this area.

The concerns that Sri Lanka has expressed are protecting the endangered species, protecting the fisheries resources, the coastal and maritime eco diversity system, integrity of the eco system in the seas around the island and immediate and long-term ecological stability.

According to research done in Jaffna, by Sri Lanka born Monash University’s Professor of Systems Ecology and UNDP Consultant Prof. Ranil Senanayake, fresh water fish such as Dandiya (Rasbora Daniconius), Tittaya (Amblypharygnodon Melenittus) and Amblypharygnodon Melenittus, migrate down towards underground caverns and chambers, during dry weather and surface when it rains. This also demonstrates the existence of massive underground freshwater caves off Jaffna, with which the salt water of the Palk Straits would mix, if the dredging continues.

This is a shallow area which is highly productive, biologically. As a consequence to the dredging, rare species of mammals, dugongs and fish and invertebrates such as the guitar shark and cone shells would become extinct. One cone shell (Conus Zonatus and Conus Gloria Maris) is worth around US$ 3,500 apiece.

Dredging will also reduce the photosynthetic rate, resulting in the collapse of the fishing industry.

Ecological and archaeological concerns

Among a host of serious problems, one major issue is that the canal is to be dug through vesicular limestone, which is a formation of limestone, consequent to the myocene sea encroaching upon parts of Northern Sri Lanka and Southern India. This entails Mannar and Jaffna on the Sri Lankan side and Tuticorin and Rameswaran on the Indian side, which means that the groundwater on both sides of the channel, would be affected.

It is also salient that no maritime archaeology has been conducted on this site. Scientific evidence, in a paper presented by Prof. Senanayake, indicates that 13,000-years ago, the area around the Kalpitiya lagoon, up to Mannar, was forested. Even today, stumps of old trees are found underwater.
There are innumerable stories in Sinhala history, regarding noblemen and royalty living underwater.

Navigational Emergencies

Sri Lanka has proposed that a plan to ensure vessels that cause pollution and oil spillage are identified and necessary compensation mechanisms put in place, is established. Sri Lanka should, invariably, be involved in the preparation of contingency plans for oil spills, including modalities to work out the cost of marine pollution and other navigational emergencies and how they be met.

Recommendations

Sri Lanka has also proposed the sharing of information on existing studies and collaboration on further studies and assessments and the setting up of a common database. Also that a Joint Environment Management Plan for impact assessment and monitoring of the project area be established.

Both Sri Lanka and India will be tremendously benefited if the recommendations are implemented to minimize the adverse environmental impacts of the SSCP, the Advisory Group has pointed out.
http://www.nation.lk/2007/04/22/newsfe3.htm

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: