Setusamudram: sedimentation sink

Steep slope leading to Rama Setu

Questions on the stability of the Setuchannel cutting through steep slope (3000 m to zero m) and Rama Setu (May 25, 2007) http://hinduthought.googlepages.com/Sedimentationsink.doc

This note explains the irresponsible technical feasibility studies before inaugurating the project on 2 July 2005 

NEERI , INDOMER or L&T Ramboll Consulting Engineers Ltd., (who have prepared the Detailed Project Report for SSCP) have not carried out the geotechnical studies on the stability of the excavated slopes of the dredged channel. Absence of subsurface geology studies in the project area is an invitation to making this a project disaster constituting a serious navigational hazard for the merchant ships and the navy, even if used for small sized ships with less than 30,000 DWT. 

Background 

The project area is a sedimentation sink. And a very steep mountainous slope below the sea. Questions of channel stability in an intense sedimentation regime of the
Indian Ocean should have been subjected to detailed engineering and technical studies with a team of experts. At the minimum, the questions raised by Prime Minister’s Office in March 2005 should have been referred to NEERI for a fresh, detailed review. This was NOT done; instead, telegraphic replies were given to PMO based principally on opinions expressed by Chandramohan of INDOMER.
 

This points to serious questions on the absence of due diligence in embarking upon a project which did NOT even take into account the sedimentation impacts of the tsunami of Dec. 26, 2004 which resulted in the rise in the seabed in some places by as much as 300 metres. 

Further, the bathymetry of the region reveals a huge slope rising from a depth of 3000 m to almost zero meter within a distance of 100 kms. between Tuticorin and Dhanushkodi as may be seen from this map. 


 

See the location map given above. Inset: bathymetry map of the
Gulf of Mannar (reproduced from Murty et al., 1994)
http://www.Setusamudram.in/htmdocs/Articles/cp_rajendran_2.htm
 

The following opinions are the most serious issues which point to the risks involved in the stability of the proposed channel along this virtual mountainous slope below the sea: 

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Mail from Dr.D.N.Seshagiri #

I would like to know whether NEERI or INDOMER have carried out any geotechnical studies on the stability of the excavated slopes of the dredged channel. These slopes will be under a head of water. What is the angle for the cut slopes provided in the design? How many benches? If so, width of the benches. Has it been checked for its stability? The cut slopes of the
Panama Canal (both above water line and below) still pose stability problems. What about possible heaving of the bed of the channel? Should there be a slope failure or heaving of the bed, will they not creat surges (mini tsunami?)Kindly refer to my letter published in Deccan Chronicle (Chennai edition) dated 21.06.05 entitled “Flip Side”

D.N.Seshagiri, Retd. Director, Geological Survey of
India.

23 – 06 – 2006, 9.28 am 

 

Kalyanaraman,25 May 2007 

TamilWeek July 3 – 9, 2005
 

               

Sethusamudram Shipping Canal
would be dangerous in its present form

Dr.R.Ramesh

The idea to have Sethusamudram Shipping Canal is one and a half centuries old. British Raj, Government of India, Government of Tamil Nadu and the Ministry of Shipping have taken initiatives to
study the feasibility of the canal at various times. However, all these studies had been of a general nature and none of them, including the current study by National Environmental Engineering Research
Institute (NEERI), Nagpur, have attempted to produce a technical feasibility study that is scientifically consistent.

Tuticorin Port Trust and the Ministry of Shipping claim that NEERI’s study is perfect scientifically. They also claim that the Hydrodynamic Modeling Study for the canal by Indomer Hydraulics Pvt. Ltd., done in
the year 2004, proves that there would not be any damage to the coastal environment of India or Sri Lanka. They also assert that the computer simulation model of the December tsunami by Kenji Satake of Japan proves that tsunamis do not have a negative impact on the region where the canal will be dredged. They also assure us that five institutions have been asked to study the movement of sediments in real time, when the dredging work will be going on, so that if anything negative shall happen, it could be corrected immediately.

All these arguments make us feel that everything is fine technically with Sethu Project; but when analyzed in depth, a picture that is exactly opposite emerges.

Sethusamudram Shipping Canal in its present form is scientifically inconsistent on seven counts:

1) NEERI EIA, the study that gives the project its scientific legitimacy, has ignored the studies available on the sedimentation pattern of Palk Bay completely and has not fixed the exact locations wherein the
dredged material would be dumped – these studies are crucial for the economic and technical survival of project, as they will give us an idea of how much sediment should be dredged each season and also
prepare us for a study that will tell us where the dumped sediments will move every season,

2) Subsurface geology has been studied only for the 20 kilo meter stretch of the canal in the Adam’s Bridge area; Nothing is known about the subsurface geology of the Palk Strait region, where the canal’s length will be 54.2 km; if the sub surface turns out to be rocky, the cost of the project will go up many folds, and the effect of blasting these rocks would cause serious damages to the Palk Bay environment; this is stated by none other than the Technical Feasibility Report prepared by NEERI,

3) The historical cyclone data for this region from the years 1860 to 2000 tell us that cyclones cross this region and its neighborhood once every four years; all these cyclones have been proven to cause
severe erosion of the coastal stretch in the nearby areas and then dump the eroded material in Palk Bay and Adam’s Bridge area; NEERI’s EIA, however, has ignored the issue of cyclones totally,

4) Indomer’s “Hydrodynamic Modeling Study for SSCP” has also ignored the issue of the impact of cyclones on the canal completely. Thus, we do not know, what will happen to the canal in scientific terms during the period of cyclones,

5) Kenji Satake’s tsunami simulation model has been accepted as correct by international tsunami authorities; this model describes tsunami propagation in general terms, but fails to give us a clear
picture of tsunami wave action in Palk Bay area; Tsunami computer simulation models by Prof. Steven N.Ward of University of California, Prof.Aditya Riyadi of Pusat Penelitian Kelautan Insitut Teknologi,
Bandung, Indonesia, WI-Delft Hydraulics, Netherlands and DHI Softwares, USA and Indomer-Alkyon describe to us graphically the way tsunami waves attacked Palk Bay on December 26th. It was the
models by Steven, Aditya and DHI that had prompted International tsunami expert Prof.Tad.S.Murty to warn Prime Minister’s Office on January 30, 2005 about the possible negative impact of SSCP during the times of future tsunamis,

6) Post Tsunami Studies by Department of Ocean Development and Zoological Survey of India have indicated that Palk Bay has received huge amount of sediment during the tsunami; that means, the
amount of sediment that should be dredged would be much higher than it was planned earlier; this is definitely bound to increase the cost of the project,

7) Without these baseline studies, merely collecting the sediment samples at various places by various agencies will not help either to protect the canal during the time of future cyclone/tsunami or to protect the nearby coastal environment from the unexpected movement of the dredged dumps.

It is an international norm that offshore projects like SSCP should undertake a thorough scientific analysis of all the factors that would turn out to damaging to the stability of the canal at the planning
stage itself.

The proponents of SSCP have not undertaken such a thoroughgoing study, in spite of having been warned by eminent geologists like Prof. C.P.Rajendran or Prof.Tad.S.Murty of the deficiencies found in
their studies. The March 8, 2005 note from none other than PMO had highlighted all these issues. However, the project proponents have not felt it necessary to come out with an open and transparent –
one to one answer to every question raised in the PMO note.

The proponents of the canal should have planned the right meticulous way, as they plan elsewhere in other parts of the world. Merely signing an MOU with Suez Canal Authority in the final days is really funny and will certainly not protect the canal from the existing high risk factors. Only consistent studies can make the idea of a reliable canal a real possibility.

Undertaking the project in the present form, it is felt, would turn out to be disastrous to the economy of Sri Lanka and India and to their present marine environment.

Courtesy: Manisanga.blogspot.com                                                                                                       http://www.tamilweek.com/Sethu_dangerous_0023.html  

Tuticorin Port Trust’s Response to Prime Minister’s Office’s note (dated March 8, 2005) of reservation on SSCP courtesy: www.sethusamudram.gov.in

Answers given to Prime Minister’s Office by the Tuticorin Port Trust (probably in late April – early May) and most likely to be responsible for gaining a clearance from it, has been released in the official website of Sethusamudram Project (www.sethusamudram.gov.in) on 30 June 2005.

(This response is most likely from Dr.P.Chandramohan of Indomer Hydraulics Pvt.Ltd., Chennai. It is noteworthy to remember here that he was an NIO scientist till 1997. In 1998 he had started his company ‘Indomer’.) (His company’s website: http://www.indomer.com )

It is also likely, that Prof.Victor Rajamanickam, who currently heads the Department of Disaster Management at SASTRA Engineering College, Tanjore (and who had been the head of of the Department of Earth Sciences, Tamil University, Tanjore till 2003 – when he left for SASTRA) would have contributed to this text; but it is felt, that, it is Dr.Chandramohan, who is its author)

This resonse was made public on June 30, 2005, that is 2 days before the inauguration of the SSCP at Madurai.

http://www.sethunews.blogspot.comhttp://manisanga.blogspot.com/  

Wednesday, June 29, 2005


Sethusamudram Shipping Canal would be dangerous in its present form

Dr.R.Ramesh

The idea to have Sethusamudram Shipping Canal is one and a half centuries old. British Raj, Government of India, Government of Tamil Nadu and the Ministry of Shipping have taken initiatives to study the feasibility of the canal at various times. However, all these studies had been of a general nature and none of them, including the current study by National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Nagpur, have attempted to produce a technical feasibility study that is scientifically consistent.

Tuticorin Port Trust and the Ministry of Shipping claim that NEERI’s study is perfect scientifically. They also claim that the Hydrodynamic Modeling Study for the canal by Indomer Hydraulics Pvt. Ltd., done in the year 2004, proves that there would not be any damage to the coastal environment of India or Sri Lanka. They also assert that the computer simulation model of the December tsunami by Kenji Satake of Japan proves that tsunamis do not have a negative impact on the region where the canal will be dredged. They also assure us that five institutions have been asked to study the movement of sediments in real time, when the dredging work will be going on, so that if anything negative shall happen, it could be corrected immediately.

All these arguments make us feel that everything is fine technically with Sethu Project; but when analyzed in depth, a picture that is exactly opposite emerges.

Sethusamudram Shipping Canal in its present form is scientifically inconsistent on seven counts:

1) NEERI EIA, the study that gives the project its scientific legitimacy, has ignored the studies available on the sedimentation pattern of Palk Bay completely and has not fixed the exact locations wherein the dredged material would be dumped – these studies are crucial for the economic and technical survival of project, as they will give us an idea of how much sediment should be dredged each season and also prepare us for a study that will tell us where the dumped sediments will move every season,

2) Subsurface geology has been studied only for the 20 kilo meter stretch of the canal in the Adam’s Bridge area; Nothing is known about the subsurface geology of the Palk Strait region, where the canal’s length will be 54.2 km; if the sub surface turns out to be rocky, the cost of the project will go up many folds, and the effect of blasting these rocks would cause serious damages to the Palk Bay environment; this is stated by none other than the Technical Feasibility Report prepared by NEERI,

3) The historical cyclone data for this region from the years 1860 to 2000 tell us that cyclones cross this region and its neighborhood once every four years; all these cyclones have been proven to cause severe erosion of the coastal stretch in the nearby areas and then dump the eroded material in Palk Bay and Adam’s Bridge area; NEERI’s EIA, however, has ignored the issue of cyclones totally,

4) Indomer’s ‘Hydrodynamic Modeling Study for SSCP’ has also ignored the issue of the impact of cyclones on the canal completely. Thus, we do not know, what will happen to the canal in scientific terms during the period of cyclones,

5) Kenji Satake’s tsunami simulation model has been accepted as correct by international tsunami authorities; this model describes tsunami propagation in general terms, but fails to give us a clear picture of tsunami wave action in Palk Bay area; Tsunami computer simulation models by Prof. Steven N.Ward of University of California, Prof.Aditya Riyadi of Pusat Penelitian Kelautan Insitut Teknologi, Bandung, Indonesia, WI-Delft Hydraulics, Netherlands and DHI Softwares, USA and Indomer-Alkyon describe to us graphically the way tsunami waves attacked Palk Bay on December 26th. It was the models by Steven, Aditya and DHI that had prompted International tsunami expert Prof.Tad.S.Murty to warn Prime Minister’s Office on January 30, 2005 about the possible negative impact of SSCP during the times of future tsunamis,

6) Post Tsunami Studies by Department of Ocean Development and Zoological Survey of India have indicated that Palk Bay has received huge amount of sediment during the tsunami; that means, the amount of sediment that should be dredged would be much higher than it was planned earlier; this is definitely bound to increase the cost of the project,

7) Without these baseline studies, merely collecting the sediment samples at various places by various agencies will not help either to protect the canal during the time of future cyclone/tsunami or to protect the nearby coastal environment from the unexpected movement of the dredged dumps.

It is an international norm that offshore projects like SSCP should undertake a thorough scientific analysis of all the factors that would turn out to damaging to the stability of the canal at the planning stage itself.

The proponents of SSCP have not undertaken such a thoroughgoing study, in spite of having been warned by eminent geologists like Prof. C.P.Rajendran or Prof.Tad.S.Murty of the deficiencies found in their studies. The March 8, 2005 note from none other than PMO had highlighted all these issues. However, the project proponents have not felt it necessary to come out with an open and transparent – one to one answer to every question raised in the PMO note.

The proponents of the canal should have planned the right meticulous way, as they plan elsewhere in other parts of the world. Merely signing an MOU with Suez Canal Authority in the final days is really funny and will certainly not protect the canal from the existing high risk factors. Only consistent studies can make the idea of a reliable canal a real possibility.

Undertaking the project in the present form, it is felt, would turn out to be disastrous to the economy of Sri Lanka and India and to their present marine environment.

References:

All the reference materials related with this article can be viewed and downloaded from the following links:

1. http://palkbay.wikicities.com

2. http://sethunews.blogspot.com

Article Coutesy: http://www.asiantribune.com/show_news.php?id=14911 

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Mail from Dr.D.N.Seshagiri #

I would like to know whether NEERI or INDOMER have carried out any geotechnical studies on the stability of the excavated slopes of the dredged channel. These slopes will be under a head of water. What is the angle for the cut slopes provided in the design? How many benches? If so, width of the benches. Has it been checked for its stability? The cut slopes of the Panama Canal (both above water line and below) still pose stability problems. What about possible heaving of the bed of the channel? Should there be a slope failure or heaving of the bed, will they not creat surges (mini tsunami?)Kindly refer to my letter published in Deccan Chronicle (Chennai edition) dated 21.06.05 entitled “Flip Side”

D.N.Seshagiri, Retd. Director, Geological Survey of India.
23 – 06 – 2006, 9.28 am 

Our Reply:

1. To our knowledge, NEERI , INDOMER or L&T Ramboll Consulting Engineers Ltd., (who have prepared the Detailed Project Report for SSCP) have not carried out the geotechnical studies on the stability of the excavated slopes of the dredged channel.

2. The studies (as far as we know from the NEERI EIA and the Executive Summary of the Technical Feasibility Report) that have been conducted so far are as follows:

a) Analysis of Hydrography data of Palk Bay – collected by NHO

b) Geological Strata along Navigational Canal in Adam’s Bridge Area – Jet Probe Drilling study – NSDRC conducted this with the help of Indomer Coastal Hydraulics Pvt. Ltd., – (Please note:No study exists for Palk Stait area still)

c) ‘Hydro Dynamic Modelling and Ship Manoeuvring Studies for SSCP’ – This, probably has been done using “Cornell Mixing Zone Expert System (CORMIX)” software – by Indomer-Alkyon (This modelling as we have noted in our article, has not considered the real time events of Cyclones or Tsunamis) (NEERI EIA does not mention Indomer with respect to this study; however, it is likely that it was done by Indomer as sentences of the Hindu press report we had quoted in our paper on Indomer and the one that is in NEERI EIA are similar but with some manipulation! (Note 1)

d) Bathymetry and Shallow Seismic Survey in Identified area (for the Canal) in Adam’s Bridge – 4 km X 20 km showing bathymetry less than 12 m was idenified for detailed bathymetry and Seismic Survey in Adam’s Bridge area. Micro Bathymetry was also carried out in 4 Km X 4 Km – Conducted by ? Indomer Hydraulics or NIOT, Chennai (Please note:No study exists for Palk Stait area still).

3. Wih respect to the study on the Geological Strata of the identified area (for the canal) in the Palk Strait area, the following note, by none other than NEERI (in the executive summary of the TFR), is of great concern for everyone:

“The costs may face upward revision as it has been observed that in more than 50% of the dredging contract there has been very large cost overruns mainly due to poor soil investigation. Investigations carried out in this study are based on sub-bottom profile except for three borings in Adam’s Bridge and there is apprehension that hard strata will be encountered in Palk Bay/Palk Strait area. If bottom strata turn out to be rock, the dredging costs will change drastically, as blasting might be required.” (Ex.Summ.NEERI TFR – p.xviii)

4. We share your concern that as the channel’s slopes will be under the water head, a thorough study of them is necessary.

5. The channel will have side slopes of 1:3.

(Courtesy : Ex.Summ. NEERI TFR) (Note 2)

6. How many benches? – Nothing is reported in the published material available with us (EIA and Ex.Summ. TFR)

7. Yes. We agree. Slope Failiure or Heaving of Bed can not be ruled out till you have the consistent studies that prove otherwise.

8. Mini – sea surges (should we use the term tsunami here?) – is defintely a possiblity.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Note 1. The Hidu report says : “Tide/wind induced flow during various seasons, the wave propagation, (and) the sediment transport pattern remain similar with the same magnitude and direction after opening the channel for the region falling 500 metres away from the channel…”
At the same time, NEERI EIA tells us: ” …It can be inferred from these graphs that the effect of the silty water when discharged will be localised and restricted to about 1000 meter from the discharge point…” (NEERI EIA p-6.9)

Note 2. Executive Summary of NEERI’s Technical Feasibility Report can be downloaded from the following link. Please find it at the attatchment section at the end of the article you see in the link. Click Here to access the link.

# Dear Dr.D.N.S!

We would be glad to have your letter to Deccan Chronicle titled “Flip Side” published here in this blog.

Please send it to : manisanga@gmail.com

Thank You

Yours Sincerely,

Dr.R.Ramesh 

Friday, June 10, 2005

Sethusamudram Shipping Canal would destroy the coastline stability of Sri Lanka and India.

…………………………………………………………………………………………Will the Sri Lankan expert committee wake up at least now? R.RameshSri Lankan President Mrs. Chandrika Kumaratunga visited India recently. One of the issues taken up for discussion between her team and Government of India (GoI) was the issue of Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project. The experts who had accompanied her are said to have raised the issue of the negative impact of the Sethusamudram Canal on the Sri Lankan Coastline. To their queries, it is said, that the Indian authorities had provided clinching scientific evidences, which prove that Sethu Canal will not be damaging to the coastlines of either Sri Lanka or India. These evidences, it is said, had allayed the fears raised by the Sri Lankan experts. A discussion between the experts of the two countries is scheduled again in July.

One of the most important studies, shared by the Indian authorities with their Sri Lankan counterparts, is the ‘Hydro Dynamic Modelling and Ship Manoeuvring Studies for SSCP’ conducted by a Chennai based company called Indomer Coastal Hydraulics.

The Indian authorities are reported to have said that this study had concluded: “Tide/wind induced flow during various seasons, the wave propagation, (and) the sediment transport pattern remain similar with the same magnitude and direction after opening the channel for the region falling 500 metres away from the channel… Such findings imply that the dredging of the channel will not have any impact on adjacent coastlines on the Sri Lankan coast and further on any of the offshore islands or on the sand spits present across the Adam’s Bridge. Hence the project will be safe to implement and it will not have any negative impact on the stability of the coastlines in Sri Lanka and India.” (Ref. 1) (Note 1)

It is said, that the experts from Sri Lanka did not have any data to counter this particular conclusion. However, it was reported that GoI was prepared to consider any scientific evidence that GoSL may present in the future that go on to prove its apprehensions correct and was prepared to make the necessary technical modifications in the project. (Ref. 2)

Hydro Dynamic Modelling for SSCP by Indomer Coastal Hydraulics is a scientifically incomplete study.

Indomer Coastal Hydraulics (P) Ltd., is owned by Dr.Ponnambalam Chandramohan, an oceanographic expert and a former research scientist at National Institute of Oceanography, Goa, whose prime research interests lay in wave and sediment dynamics with respect to the stability of the Indian coastline. (Ref. 3).

Dr.Chandramohan’s prime works with respect to Palk Bay include: 1) the 1990 work completed with Sanil Kumar and Nayak ‘Wave Atlas for the Indian Coast based on Ship Observations, 1968- 1986’, 2) ‘Beach dynamics at Pudhuvalasai in Palk Bay’ studied in the year 1997 along with B.K.Jena and A.S.Murty, 3) ‘ Longshore Transport Based on Directional Waves Along North Tamil Nadu Coast, India’ written in 1997, and published in 2000 along with B.K.Jena and V.Sanil Kumar, 4) ‘Longshore currents and sediment transport along Kannirajapuram Coast, Tamilnadu, India’ published in 2000 with Sanil Kumar, V, Ashok Kumar, K. , Gowthaman, R. and Pednekar, P., 5) ‘ Littoral drift sources and sinks along the Indian coast’ published along with B. K. Jena and V. Sanil Kumar in the year 2001.

The 2001 study had actually calculated the annual amount of sediment getting deposited in Palk Bay. The paper had noted, “Any attempt to handle the coastal problems, either to arrest erosion or prevent deposition, requires a thorough understanding of the factors and processes involved in the coastal geomorphological system: the pattern of changes, the sources for the sediments supplied to the littoral region, the sinks acting as large-scale depository basin of the sediments and the volume and direction of sediment movement in the littoral zones.” It had further noted: “ Occurrence of cyclonic storm during north-east monsoon is common in the Nagapattinam–Poompuhar region, which causes an erosion along this region. The sediments are transported southerly and deposited in the Palk Bay. Low wave action inside the bay and protection from the southerly waves encourages the deposition of sediment.” It had also noted the presence of specific regions in Palk Bay, wherein the sediment deposition is far higher than other regions of the Bay.

It would be important to note here the conclusions regarding the impact of cyclones on Palk Bay as presented by 3 important research papers in which Dr.P.Chandramohan himself happens to be a co-author of two of the Papers. Among these three articles, two deal with the direction of the annual gross sediment movement from Nagapattinam coast and the third analyses the same from the Kannirajapuram coast. Let us quote their observations: “It is … observed that the occurrence of cyclonic storm during northeast monsoon which is common in the region would considerably increase the southerly drift and may cause the littoral drift material to deposit in the sink at Palk Bay. Such loss of material is one of the prime reasons for the erosion of the shoreline between Nagapattinam and Poompuhar”. “9 cyclonic disturbances have been reported or recorded in this (Kannirajapuram) region during 1891 to 1970.Out of this 7 have occurred in the months between October and December and one each in the months of January and March…The annual gross transport was found to be 0.15X106m3/year and the annual net transport was 0.12X106m3/year (toward northeast).” (Note 2)

The question now is, did the Indomer’s ‘Hydro Dynamic Modelling and Ship Manoeuvring Studies for SSCP’ take into consideration all the above factors noted in Chandramohan et al.’s 2001 paper? The answer is a definitive ‘No’. The reasons for this conclusion are two: 1) There’s no dedicated research available yet, on the interactions of cyclones that cross the region once in 4 years (Note 3 a) and their influence on the sedimentation regime of Palk Bay and nothing is known about the quantum of sediments contributed by these storms to Palk Bay, 2) Till this date, quantification of the sources for the sediments coming into Palk Bay have been done only for about 00.614% of the total quantum of sediments calculated so far. (Note 3 b)

Hence, we come to the conclusion that the results of Indomer’s “‘Hydro Dynamic Modelling and Ship Manoeuvring Studies for SSCP” could only be considered as partial and incomplete. We also note here that this model should be improved upon with further future dedicated researches on sedimentation pattern in Palk Bay during the times of Cyclones and Tsunamis.

Claiming a partial mathematical model as a scientifically complete one and proceeding with the dredging work for the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal based on its scientific strength might throw environmentally dangerous and costly surprises for both Sri Lanka and India in future.Indomer-Alkyon’s tsunami simulation model reveals that Sethu Canal will be dangerous to both Indian and Sri Lankan Coastlines.

Indomer in collaboration with Alkyon Hydraulics of Netherlands has created a simulation model of the 2004 December 26th tsunami. (Ref. 4) (Note 5). Analysis of this simulation model yields some interesting results that happen to directly oppose the claim by the SSCP proponents that ‘the project will be safe to implement and it will not have any negative impact on the stability of the coastlines in Sri Lanka and India.”

This simulation model reveals, like the simulation models created by Prof. Steven N. Ward, of the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics, University of California, Santa Cruz, USA and the one by Prof. Aditya Riyadi, of Pusat Penelitian Kelautan Institut Teknologi, Bandung, Indonesia (Note 5) that ‘the northeastern, central, eastern portions of Palk Bay received waves of higher energy and thus these areas remained more turbulent during the Tsunami. This means, the extent of sedimentation and thus the extent of damage to the marine ecosystem in this part of the Bay should have been much higher than the other areas of the Bay’. Incidentally, all these areas fall well within Sri Lanka’s territorial waters.

This simulation model points to us that the areas through which the most turbulent waves have entered Palk Bay both from North and South are the areas where the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal is to be located. It is this point that has been of concern for international tsunami experts like Dr. T.S.Murty. When he said Kerala would face destruction, what he actually meant was that drastic consequences were in store for the entire shoreline extending from Dhanushkodi to Ernakulam, and from the Delft Island to Colombo. (Note 6)

The steeply placed Palk Bay has actually shielded the above said shoreline from the harsh impact of the Tsunami waves approaching it from Bay of Bengal located in the northeast; but the deepwater route of the SSCP is about to destroy this protective shield.

SSCP has two acute bends in its course. These bends would obstruct the waves gushing through the canal, and thus there would be excessive sedimentation in the upper and lower courses of the canal. The impact of the high-energy waves on the bends would destroy these bends, thus paving way for the waves to enter the central portion of Palk Bay. Sediments carried by these waves would make the central portion of the Bay much shallower. Prior to the Tsunami, it was said that this 78 km stretch of Palk Bay would have had an adequate depth of 12 meters. Post-Tsunami, there has been no study on the changed depth of this region.

In addition to this, the Indian Department of Ocean Development’s (DOD) report on Tsunami damage, published in late March 2005, has documented that the sedimentation rate at the coral reefs around the Pamban Island had increased two-fold during the tsunami. (Ref. 5) A team of scientists from led by Dr.V.J.Loveson of the Council for Industrial and Scientific Research (CISR) New Delhi, studying placer deposits in the area, says an estimated 40 million tonnes of Titanium alone has been deposited in the entire stretch of 500 kilometer coastline hit by the Tsunami. (Ref.6) The Zoological Survey of India’s report talks about the consequences of excessive dumping of silt by the Tsunami on the Palk Bay Bay ecosystem. (Ref 7) Independent surveys conducted at Kodiakkarai, in Tamil Nadu, in January have revealed that the sea is now half its depth than what it was prior to the Tsunami. (Ref. 8)

All these studies reveal that the amount of material to be dredged would be far higher than the one estimated by NEERI in early 2004. The post tsunami simulation modeling studies have revealed that during cyclones and tsunamis, the canal has the potential to transport the sediments into Palk Bay at a far higher quantity and rate than it is during the cyclone – tsunami free periods.

It is in this context, the project proponents claim that the Sri Lankan experts on oceanography possess no data to counter the scientific validity of their argument.

Will the Sri Lankan experts present at least now, the tsunami simulation modeling results of the very agency that has done the mathematical modeling for SSCP to their Indian counterparts? Will they then ask GoSL to demand GoI to defer the project for at least now and take up the necessary scientific studies to make the project environmentally viable and friendly?

The Sri Lankan expert committee should act NOW! Waiting up till July, when the bilateral expert committee meeting is scheduled next, would not have any meaning since the dredging work would have already commenced (in the third week of June)!

References:

‘Sethu channel will not affect coastline: study’, The Hindu, 9 June 2005
Ibid.,
http://www.indomer.com/
The tsunami simulation model can be downloaded from http://www.alkyon.nl/Services/download.htm. Choose to download the simulation model with the file size of 15. 28 MB, as this gives a better picture clarity and coverage than the files with 8.28 and 1.89 MB sizes.
DoD’s report on Tsunami damage is available at the following link: http://ourmedia.org/node/12180
The Times of India, JANUARY 14, 2005
The Hindu, 22 April 2005, “Marine ecology of Bay of Bengal irrevocably altered by tsunami” http://www.hindu.com/2005/04/22/stories/2005042206081500.htm
Personal Communication, Dr.Senthil Kumaran, Coimbatore, Unpublished Report,


Notes:

1. It is interesting to note that the Indomer’s mathematical modeling study does not find a mention in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for SSCP done by NEERI. This EIA was published in May 2004. Indomer’s website records that this study was taken up in the year 2004. At the same time, the website does not claim that its mathematical modeling has considered the issue of December 26 tsunami with respect to its effect on SSCP. (Ref. 3) Hence, it is safe to assume that this is a study commissioned by the project authorities after the publication of the NEERI EIA but completed before December 26th 2004.
2. The research articles on Nagapattinam and Kannirajapuram Coast can be downloaded from the following link: http://ourmedia.org/node/12180
3. a) The data on cyclones in this region is available at R.Ramesh ‘R.Ramesh, “Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project and the unconsidered high risk factors: Can it withstand them?” pp- 42 -52
b) The annual sediment load = 58.8000 X 106 m3
The net annual quantum of sediment transported by long shore currents from the Nagapttinam coast into the Palk Bay = 00.0950 X 106 m3
The total net annual quantum of sediment transported by tides and long shore currents
into the Palk Bay fro Gulf of Mannar through Pamban Pass and Adam’s Bridge = 00.2657 X 106 m3
The net annual quantum of sediment for which the source is not yet pinpointed
(58.8000 X 106 m3 –(00.0950 X 106 m3 + 00.2657 X 106 m3 ) = 58.4393 X 106 m3
So, we are yet to have studies that pinpoint the source for 99.386% of the net annual quantum of sediment entering into the Palk Bay. Studies on the quantum of sediment transported in the Palk Bay during cyclonic disturbances are non-existent.
For a detailed discussion on this see R.Ramesh, “Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project and the unconsidered high risk factors: Can it withstand them?” (16 Nov 2004) pp –57 -63
The monograph can be downloaded from the following link: http://ourmedia.org/node/10647
4. The recreated zoomed version of the Indomer-Alkyon simulation model that shows just the Palk Bay region can be downloaded from the following link: http://ourmedia.org/node/16046
5. All these simulation models are available at http://manisanga.blogspot.com/
6. Article on the analysis of Dr.Tad S.Murty’s view is available at http://manisanga.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Is ignorance Bliss?

………………………………………………………………………………………………
R.Ramesh

In a strange and ironic twist, the Indian government has cleared the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project at the worst possible time, when scientific reports done by Indian establishments and others clearly indicate that the Palk Bay has been left reeling under the excessive stress caused by the December 26 Tsunami. These reports also suggest that the Tsunami has left most of the Bay’s biotic and physical resources partially or fully challenged. Regardless of this fact, the Indian ministry has decided to go ahead with the canal dredging work in three weeks time from now.

More ironically, this work would commence at the Palk Strait – a place least studied by the would-be dredgers or by the organization that had prepared the SSCP technical feasibility report. The estimated quantity to be dredged would be 12 to 13 million cubic meters initially. This amounts to 22 to 26% of the dredging work estimated for the Palk Strait area, or 13.6 to 16 % of the dredging work estimated for the entire project. That means that the first one seventh of the dredging work would be initiated within the next 20 days.

The Drama

The Indian Department of Ocean Development’s (DOD) report on Tsunami damage, published in late March, has documented that the sedimentation rate at the coral reefs around the Pamban Island had increased two-fold during the tsunami. A team of scientists from led by Dr.V.J.Loveson of the Council for Industrial and Scientific Research (CISR) New Delhi, studying placer deposits in the area, says an estimated 40 million tonnes of Titanium alone has been deposited in the entire stretch of 500 kilometre coastline hit by the Tsunami. The Zoological Survey of India’s report talks about the consequences of excessive dumping of silt by the Tsunami on the Palk Bay Bay ecosystem. Independent surveys conducted at Kodiakkarai, in Tamil Nadu, in January have revealed that the sea is now half its depth than what it was prior to the Tsunami.

The Indian government has not thought it important to consider the project’s viability in the light of the above studies. Also, it did not occur to Indian government that these study conclusions indicated that the total amount of material that has to be dredged now would actually be many times higher than the original estimate put forward by the project proponents.

Between 1891 and 1995, the Palk Bay and adjoining regions have witnessed as many as 23 cyclones – which means one cyclone every 4 to 5 years. Studies by Dr Sanil Kumar of India’s National Institute of Oceanography, Goa have indicated that during these cyclones, sediments get dumped in Palk Bay. In addition, the region has witnessed three Tsunamis (1881, 1883, 1941) prior to the current one. All these facts indicate that the amount of dredging that would be necessary would actually be many times higher than the amount estimated by National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Nagpur.

This irony came to the forefront in a news report published by The New Indian Express in its March 28, 2005 edition. The report said: “In an official note issued early this month, the PMO (Prime Minister’s Office) is said to have questioned risks from aspects such as sedimentation due to cyclonic disturbances and threats due to future natural calamities like the tsunami. These issues had not been covered in the environmental impact assessment by Nagpur-based agency NEERI. Its Director S Devotta told this website’s newspaper that his agency had not received the PMO note. However, he agreed that NEERI had not covered the sedimentation issue because ‘we had asked the Tuticorin Port Trust to address this aspect with the help of another agency’’ Devotta also stressed that there was no thought on the possibility of tsunamis in this region when the assessment report had been submitted in August 2004. ‘That is why NEERI did not address a tsunami scenario in its study. After the tsunami, any ocean development project – not just the Sethusamudram project – would have to look into this new aspect,’ he conceded.”(emphasis mine).

So, here is a project, where the very agency which first calculated the amount of sediment to be dredged has now openly accepted that it had not studied the issue of sedimentation. The NEERI has also admitted that it had not considered the post-Tsunami scenario. What its director failed to tell the newspaper was that his agency had also not considered the issue of cyclones that frequent the region every 4 or 5 years.
However, the Indian Prime Minister’s Office had raised all these questions in its official press note dated March 8, 2005. With respect to this, The New Indian Express report dated 20 May, 2005 reported: ““However, post-tsunami, the plan landed in fresh difficulties, with the Prime Minister’s office reportedly questioning the environmental impact assessment (EIA) study by National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI). The PMO wanted fresh evaluation, as information about the effects of tsunamis and cyclones on the project had not been factored in and noted there were huge gaps in the current knowledge about sedimentation. Subsequently, a team of experts studied the project and made it clear that Gulf of Mannar would not face any threat from the tsunami in the future and the apprehensions expressed by the PMO were cleared.” (emphasis mine).
That makes this drama more interesting! The above-mentioned study by experts that had the power to clear earlier doubts raised by the Indian Prime Minister’s office on the project’s feasibility has been completed in a record time of 13 days (April 1-13). What NEERI was unable to achieve in its two years of study (13.05.2002 to 9.06.2004), this anonymous group of experts had accomplished in a matter of just two weeks!
The meaning of the Drama
Post-December 2004, three simulation models by Prof. Steven N. Ward, of the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics, University of California, Santa Cruz, USA and Prof. Aditya Riyadi, of Pusat Penelitian Kelautan Institut Teknologi, Bandung, Indonesia, have given a clear picture about the pattern of tsunami wave interaction with Palk Bay. These models have been confirmed correct by the data on tsunami waves received from JASON 1 satellite and also by the various post tsunami field surveys. These simulation models indicate that the northeastern, central, eastern portions of Palk Bay received waves of higher energy and thus these areas remained more turbulent during the Tsunami. This means, the extent of sedimentation and thus the extent of damage to the marine ecosystem in this part of the Bay should have been much higher than the other areas of the Bay. Incidentally, all these areas fall well within Sri Lanka’s territorial waters.

The above said simulation models have also indicated that the waves traveling into the Palk Bay both from north and south have a tendency to travel toward the eastern and central half of the Bay during tsunami. Dr. Usha Natesan of Anna University, Chennai has made a similar observation in 2002 from her study on the role of satellites in monitoring sediment dynamics. As stated earlier, all these areas fall within Sri Lanka’s territorial waters.

The NEERI’s bogus estimate on the amount of dredged material is not the only issue that should concern us. The Technical Feasibility Report (TFR) it had prepared along with the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) raises a still more serious issue. It states: ““The costs may face upward revision as it has been observed that in more than 50% of the dredging contract there has been very large cost overruns mainly due to poor soil investigation. Investigations carried out in this study are based on sub-bottom profile except for three borings in Adam’s Bridge and there is apprehension that hard strata will be encountered in Palk Bay/Palk Strait area. If bottom strata turn out to be rock, the dredging costs will change drastically, as blasting might be required.”(Executive Summary, SSCP TFR, NEERI, page XVIII, emphases mine).

Even for its bogus estimate of the amount of dredged material, the NEERI report had not identified specific dumpsites. With respect to this, consider the following assessment: “The total quantity of spoils that would come from capital dredging is supposed to be 81.5 to 88.5 X 106 m3. The quantum of dredged spoil that would come from maintenance dredging is supposed to be 0.1 X 106 m3 / year. Specific dumpsite has been identified only for 8.5 to 9.5 % of the total dredged spoil. Idea about the nature of the dredged spoil is available presently, only for about 38.5 to 40.5 % of the total dredged spoil. No idea exists at the present time on the nature of the dredged spoil that would be generated for 59.5 to 61.5 % of the total dredged material. We do not know the exact dumpsites for about 90.5 to 91.5 % of the dredged material.”

So where would they dump the material they would be dredging 20 days from now? With no consistent answer to this question, the project is getting ready for its launch.

Where would the dredged materials travel during normal times and during the times of cyclones and tsunami? As indicated by the studies of Dr. Usha Natesan, Steven N. Ward and Aditya Riyadi, they would be getting dumped in the Sri Lankan portion of Palk Bay. Blasting, if resorted to in Palk Strait, would sound the final death knell for the Palk Bay ecosystem.

The Tad S Murty puzzle

Dr. Murty is an expatriate Indian who had served as the chief editor of the reputed International Tsunami Journal “Science of Tsunami Hazards” for over two decades. He is considered as one of the leading scientists on tsunami in general and on the tsunamis of the Indian Ocean in particular. The Indian Prime Minister’s office invited him late this January for knowing his views on the establishment of the tsunami warning system for India. As he finished his briefing on the tsunami warning system for India he had something else also to share with the Indian authorities – that was on the proposed alignment of the SSCP with respect to tsunamis that the Indian east coast might be subjected to in the future. “I like this (Sethusamudram) project’, he said, ‘but there is a flaw. The entrance to the channel should be reoriented towards the eastern side. Otherwise, there is a chance that it may create a deepwater route for another devastating tsunami. This may cause huge destruction in Kerala.”

The average speed of the tsunami wave in the deep sea had been calculated to be around 800 to 850 km per hour. However, the speed with which it had moved into Palk Strait was astonishingly slow. It worked out to be just 30 km per hour. For Nagapattinam continental shelf, it was around 200 km per hour.
The simulation models of Steven and Aditya point to us that the areas through which the most turbulent waves have entered Palk Bay both from North and South are the areas where the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal is to be located. It is this point that has been of concern for Dr. Murty. When he said Kerala would face destruction, what he actually meant was that drastic consequences were in store for the entire shoreline extending from Dhanushkodi to Ernakulam, and from the Delft Island to Colombo. The steeply placed Palk Bay, it may be inferred from his statement, has actually shielded the above said shoreline from the harsh impact of the Tsunami waves approaching it from Bay of Bengal located in the northeast.
The deepwater route of the SSCP has two acute bends in its course. These bends would obstruct the waves gushing through the canal, and thus there would be excessive sedimentation in the upper and lower courses of the canal. The impact of the high-energy waves on the bends would destroy these bends, thus paving way for the waves to enter the central portion of Palk Bay. Sediments carried by these waves would make the central portion of the Bay much shallower. Prior to the Tsunami, it was said that this 78 km stretch in the project would have had an adequate depth of 12 meters. Post-Tsunami, there has been no study on this. And, with a canal that has the potential to transport high-energy waves from north and south during cyclones and tsunamis in place, this area will certainly become a candidate for dredging. This would also increase the amount of turbidity in Palk Bay considerably. With all this, the amount of material that has to be dredged would dramatically increase.

Thus, continued dredging in the total stretch of 152.2 km would become the order of the day. Increased, nonstop, unplanned dredging would destroy a sea having one of the highest levels of primary production in the world.

Conclusion:

The SSCP would probably be the only offshore project in the world in which the project planners have committed publicly that they have not considered the high risk factors and would go forward regardless of this fact. Even the worst tsunami that humankind has witnessed was unable to break the pertinent vow of the project proponents to remain ignorant of every environmental parameter capable of destroying the project’s viability.

Instead of concentrating on an analysis of the factors which indicate that the project is unviable, the project proponents have been busy constructing fictional discourses on its potential utility. Of course, the best fiction churned out has been the canal’s apparent ability to contain the threat posed by Sea Tigers led by Col. Soosai. The target of this born-to-win discourse was Congress president Sonia Gandhi, and true to expectations, this has achieved its instantaneous results. This discourse’s fictional force simply blew the realism of the Indian Prime Minister’s office and the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project is now well under way!

For the project proponents, ignorance is bliss. And the Indian external affairs minister Natwar Singh can be expected to make a case for this Orwellian sentence during his visit to Sri Lanka on June 9. It is for Sri Lanka to decide whether it is willing to be part of this fiction?

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Note: All the reference resource materials used in this article can be downloaded from the links in the lsat post.

I thank Mr.Ramesh Gopalakrishnan, London, for his help rendered in editing this article. 

The Will to DisasterR.Ramesh ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

MoE&F’s amnesia on the post tsunami technical feasibility of the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project

The conditional clearance given for SSCP [ref 1] by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoE&F) recently has totally ignored the post tsunami debate [ref 2] on the technical feasibility of the canal. This article argues that such an attitude by MoE&F is bound to have long-term serious negative repercussions on the future economic, legal, ecological and social spaces of not only India but also of Sri Lanka.

The warning came from none other than Dr.Tad.S.Murty. Dr.Murty is an expatriate Indian who had served as the chief editor of the reputed International Tsunami Journal “Science of Tsunami Hazards” for over two decades. He is considered as one of the leading scientists on tsunami in general and on the tsunamis of the Indian Ocean in particular. The PMO had invited him late this January for knowing his views on the establishment of the tsunami warning system for India. As he finished his briefing on the tsunami warning system for India he had something else also to share with the PMO: that was on the proposed alignment of the SSCP with respect to tsunamis that the Indian east coast might be subjected to in the future. “I like this (Sethusamudram) project’, he said, ‘but there is a flaw. The entrance to the channel should be re-oriented towards the eastern side. Otherwise, there is a chance that it may create a deepwater route for another devastating tsunami. This may cause huge destruction in Kerala.” [ref 3]

PMO had asked the Ministry of Shipping and Surface Transport (MSST) for a clarification on this question in mid February. Tuticorin Port Trust (TPT) who is the proponent of the canal submitted its answer on 28 February. MSST submitted its answer to the PMO on 4 March [ref 4]. However, on 8 March PMO had released an unofficial note (probably based on two articles on this issue published by EPW and CURRENT SCIENCE, [ref 2] and on the opinion expressed in the press on this issue by the world renown paleao-seismologist Dr.C.P.Rajendran of CESS, Trivandrum) [ref 5] to the press where it had raised a number of questions related with the technical feasibility of the canal. In this note, PMO had in particular questioned the ability of the proposed canal to withstand future tsunamis and cyclones [ref 2]. The Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu had also echoed this note in her statement released on 29 March [ref 2]. However, Mr.T.R.Balu, the minister for Shipping had denied such a note having been sent to his ministry by the PMO and since there is no further communication from the PMO to his ministry after the first note, he said the issue of doubts on the technical feasibility of SSCP is once for all settled4. He however did not consider clarifying as to why the very director of National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), (that did the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the canal) had agreed in the public domain that the EIA done by his institute had not considered the issue of sedimentation [ref 6] and the issue of tsunami.

Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) had sent its report on SSCP late March. On receiving this report, MoE&F issued its clearance for the project immediately in the first week of April [ref 7] The clearance, strangely, had not considered post tsunami debate on the technical feasibility of the canal and the acceptance by the director of NEERI himself that the EIA done by his institute had not considered the issues of sedimentation and tsunami and thus by implication that the study was incomplete. Also, it had also not considered it necessary to analyze the project’s feasibility in the light of the various proposals put forward by the “National Workshop on Formulation of Science Plan for “Coastal Hazard Preparedness” conducted by National Institute of Oceanography, Goa on 18 – 19 February 2005 [ref 8].

MoE&F’s clearance has now allowed the SSCP to be placed in front of the Planning Commission and the Cabinet Committe for its final approval. The approval, it is said, is expected in another four weeks time (that is middle of May) [ref 9].

This article attempts a thorough scientific analysis of this issue of technical feasibility of the canal at the present time and the possible consequences of the Planning Commission and Cabinet Committee clearing the project without mustering clear, transparent answers from the project proponents for all the questions raised so far by experts in India and abroad.

SSCP Physiography

SSCP is an offshore shipping canal project in the Palk Bay. It plans to cut-short the distance navigated by ships originating from the west coast and bound for ports in the Indian east coast by avoiding circumnavigation of Sri Lanka. Ships would navigate through the Gulf of Mannar and Palk Bay and enter the Bay of Bengal directly.

Dredging the shallow seabed of the Palk Bay and Adam’s Bridge to a depth of 12 meters in order to make navigation possible for ships drawing a draught of 9.15 or 10.7 meters is the central idea of the project. The canal’s width would be 300 meters. The total length of the canal in the Palk Bay is 152.2 kilometers. This is divided into three legs; the southern leg in the Adam’s Bridge area is 20 km, the northern leg in the Palk Strait area is 54.2 km and the central portion is 78 km in length. Dredging would be done in the southern and northern legs; the central leg does not require dredging as it has the adequate depth of 12 meters.

Navigation channels have so far been dredged in the East Coast of India only near the shipping ports. This probably is the first effort by India to dredge a navigation channel that is to be located 30 to 40 km away from the coast. This, again, is the longest seabed-dredging project planned so far in India.

Modeling Studies on the December 26th Tsunami

Dr.Tad.S.Murty’s observation on SSCP is based on an in depth analysis of the various computer models proposed by tsunami experts around the world. There are nine models available so far. All of them are available in the Internet and are freely downloadable. They are:

1.Vasily Titov of the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL) at NOAA, USA
(http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2004/s2357.htm),

2.Kenji Satake-National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science & Technology – Japan (http://staff.aist.go.jp/kenji.satake/animation.gif ),

3. DHI Software Company-USA (http://www.dhisoftware.com/general/News/Tsunami/index.htm%5D,

4.Baird Softwares-USA (www.baird.com ),

5. Steven N.Ward – University of California, (www.es.ucsc.edu/~ward/)

6.NIO-Goa, (www.nio.org)

7.Aditya Riyadi of Pusat Penelitian Kelautan Institut Teknologi, Bandung, Indonesia([http://www.ppk.itb.ac.id/aceh/simulasi-IV-2/simulasiIV-2.htm],

8.A.Pitanesi (INGV, Roma, Italia),

9. A.Yalciner, U.Kuran, T.Taymaz (Turkey) http://yalciner.ce.metu.edu.tr/sumatra/max-elev-sim-1.jpg

All the nine models agree on one issue- namely the increased wave heights experienced by the stretch extending between Hambantota on the southern tip of Sri Lanka to Palar Estuary located 70 km south of Chennai. This stretch includes the east coast of Sri Lanka, the whole of Palk Strait, the coastal stretch between Kodiakkarai to Palar Estuary.

Out of these nine models, the models proposed by Prof.Steven N.Ward, Aditya, and DHI Softwares give a clear visual picture of the wave patterns experienced by Palk Bay during the December 26th tsunami.

The First Tsunami Wave, Palk Bay and SSCP

Steven N.Ward’s ‘Peak Tsunami (wave) envelope height’ animation model gives us the following important information. The first tsunami wave envelope embraces the continental shelf break of the Palk Strait at 1 hour 54 minutes after the time of onset December 26th Tsunamigenic earthquake (i.e. 6.29 am IST). This is 8.23 a.m IST. The wave height at this time is equal to or less than 0.5 meters. At 8.43 a.m the wave flows over the tabletop-like flat continental shelf of Palk Strait and reaches the stretch between Point Pedro of Sri Lanka and Nagapattinam of India [ref 10]. We note here that the wave has touched the northeastern tip of SSC’s northern leg. The wave height at this time is between 1 to 1.5 meters. At 9.13 a.m the wave has reached the imaginary line drawn between Kankesanthurai and Vedaranyam. We note here that the wave now has embraced the northeastern tip of SSC for about 20 km. The wave height is now 1 to more than 3.5 meters. At 9.29 am, the wave has increased its height uniformly to around 3 to more than 3.5 meters and the wave has touched Kodiakkarai. By now, half of the northern leg of SSC has come under the tsunami wave. The wave entering the Palk Bay from Gulf of Mannar (located in the south), has just touched the southern leg (that is the Adam’s Bridge portion) of the SSC. The wave height in this southern portion is from 0.5 to 1 meters at this time. From 9.30 am to 10.13 am the wave embraces the whole northern leg of SSC and also the coastal stretch between Kodiakkarai and Rajamadam. The wave height in this stretch at this time interval is between 0.5 to 1.5 meters. It is to be noted at this point of time, the wave prefers to enter the Palk Bay through the northern half of Palk Strait rather than the southern half of the Strait. In the Adams Bridge area, we note that the wave prefers to enter the Bay through the eastern half of the Bridge. At 10.23 am, we note that around 10 km of the southern tip of the 20 km long Adam’s Bridge portion of the SSC has been occupied by a wave of 0.5 to 1.5 meter height. In the Palk Strait area the wave has encircled the northern tip of Sri Lanka and has embraced Manamelkudi, a spot known to be experiencing high sedimentation rates. We note at this point of time that around 20 km length of the middle 78 km of un-dredged portion of SSC embraced by a wave of 0.5 to 1.5 meter height. We see by 10.29 am (that is 4 hours from the onset of tsunami) the whole of Adam’s Bridge portion of the SSC embraced by a wave of 0.5 to 1.5 meter tsunami wave, and half of the northern leg embraced by a wave of more than 3.5 meters height, and its remaining half and 20 km of the central un-dredged portion of the canal embraced by a 0.5 to 1.5 meter wave.

Aditya’s model agrees with Steven N.Ward’s model in every detail, but shows the movement of waves still more clearly. Both these models agree with the wave travel time model created by Vasily Titov of PMEL. The model by DHI Software, however, differs by about half an hour from the above models. The first wave of DHI is late by half an hour to reach the above-mentioned points. As for the pattern of movement of the waves, DHI’s model agrees with that of the other models.

It will be of some importance to note here that the wave travel time model proposed by Vasily Titov is in conformity with Kenji Satake’s animation model of the December 26th tsunami. Kenji’s model had been confirmed correct by the JASON-1 Satellite imagery generatated during the tsunami itself.

The average speed of the tsunami wave in the deep sea has been calculated to be around 600 to 650 km per hour. However, the speed with which it had moved into Palk Strait is astonishingly slow. It works out to be just 30 km per hour. For Nagapattinam it is around 200 km per hour [ref 11].

It is this point that had worried Dr.T.S.Murty, when he said, “the entrance to the channel should be re-oriented towards (i.e., in) the eastern side. Otherwise, there is a chance that it may create a deepwater route for another devastating tsunami. This may cause huge destruction in Kerala.” By Kerala, he had actually meant the entire shoreline extending from Dhanushkodi to Ernakulam. The steeply placed Palk Bay [ref 10], it may be inferred from his statement, has actually shielded the above said shoreline from the harsh impact of the tsunami waves approaching it from the northeast direction1 [ref 11].

Post tsunami field surveys

Post tsunami field surveys undertaken in the south east coast of India Bay by various teams had revealed many interesting facts.

“A team of scientists led by Dr V J Loveson of the Central Mining Research Institute (CMRI), Dhanbad, has been monitoring the level of placer deposits on Tamil Nadu’s coastline since mid 2003. The team had said huge deposits of Titanium had been deposited on the shores from Vedaranyam to Cuddalore stretch by the December 26th tsunami. They have speculated something like 40 million tonnes of Titanium to have been deposited in the whole 500 kilo meters stretch of the coastline that was hit by the tsunami. ” [ref 12]. Let us note here that the north-eastern tip of SSC is located just 35 km south of Vedaranyam.

Post tsunami survey to detect tsunami wave run-up was conducted by Dr.Senthil Kumaran [ref 13] from Jan 15 to Jan 30, 2005. The survey covered the entire coastline from Ernakulam to Chennai. The survey had revealed some important facts:

The wave arrival time narrated by the people interviewed at Kodiakkarai coincided exactly with that of the wave arrival time indicated by the model proposed by Vasily Titov.

“The shore line of Palk Bay stretching from Muthupet to Pamban had not experienced much damage from tsunami. However, the shoreline showed some distinct features. Unlike the shore lines in other areas, this shoreline in its entirity was dumped with heaps and heaps of uprooted seagrasses.”

The preliminary tsunami impact assessment report prepared by the Zoological Survey of India for none other than MoE&F has made the following remarks:

“ The seaweed and sea grass ecosystem between Rameshwaram and Kanyakumari have either been uprooted or submerged, ‘dislocating many associated organisms and changing the species composition’. The worst affected is the benthic ecosystem comprising the invertebrate animals. A huge population of sponges has been affected and animals such as crabs, lobsters and stomatopods displaced from their coral homes. The tsunami has changed the breeding area by dumping silt and debris and relocating the breeding population to other areas which may not be conducive to their survival. Also, increased water turbidity may lead to mass mortality of fish. The breeding cycle of marine turtles have already been affected and the loss of the sea grass which is the main food for the endangered mammals like the dugong may also lead to a change in breeding habitat’.” [ref 14]

These observations indicate the following: 1) The computer model of Vasily Titov should be considered objective, 2) the near shore continental shelf regions of Vedaranyam – Nagapattinam area have faced excessive sedimentation, 2) Palk Bay has experienced an event which has caused a total decimation of the sea grass bed of the bay.

Palk Bay has impeded the wave propagation considerably and hence the amount of sedimentation here should have been much higher than at the Vedaranyam – Cuddalore stretch. That the geomorphology of Palk Bay provides a conducive environment for excessive sedimentation is an established fact even before the current tsunami.

The large scale uprooting of sea grasses in Palk Bay should have been due to the excessive turbulence experienced by the bay during tsunami. The bay had experienced waves both from north and south. Such events had been noted in the bay earlier and 1964 cyclone is one such event. Following this event, it had been noted, that the sea cows (dugongs) inhabiting the bay and thriving on the sea grasses, had disappeared for almost two decades. They had returned to the bay again only in the late eighties. [ref 15]

Lessons and Questions

The foregoing discussion indicate to us three major points:

1. The presently proposed alignment of the northern leg of the canal might serve as a deep-water conduit to future tsunamis thus increasing the degree of tsunami risk to the coastal stretch extending from Dhanushkodi to Ernakulam.

2. Tsunami causes excessive sedimentation in the Palk Strait and Palk Bay.

3. Tsunamis and cyclones cause excessive turbulence in the bay thus causing extensive damage to the sea grass bed of the bay.

These points lead us to the following questions:

1. What would have been the effect of excessive sedimentation on the structure of the canal and on the stability of its dredge dumps?

2. What would have been the effect of increased turbulence experienced by the bay during tsunami on the structure of the canal and on the stability of its dredge dumps?

3. What would have been the extent of damage to the shorelines of Sri Lanka and India located south of Talai Mannar and Dhanushkodi had the canal been operational at the time of the December 26th tsunami?

Finding definitive answers to these questions are a must for ensuring the future stability of the canal and the shorelines around. However TPT, MSST, and MoE&F have not felt it necessary to consider or answer these questions.

It is strange as to why the MoE&F was not willing even to wait for the report of the preliminary study it had commissioned to the Zoological Survey of India on the effect of tsunami on the marine ecology of Bay of Bengal!

Implication of the post tsunami findings on the pre tsunami studies on Plak Bay

Pre-tsunami studies on Palk Bay have indicated some specific pertinent issues related to Palk Bay. They are:

1.Palk Bay is a shallow sea located on a continental shelf region whose average depth is just 6 to 10 meters. Depth of Bay of Bengal located in the northeast is 2000 meters, and depth of Gulf of Mannar located south is 500 to 1000 meters.

2. It is one among the five major sediment sinks of India. In its capacity as a major sediment sink, it is responsible for maintaining the stability of the shorelines around [ref 16].

3. Even though Palk Bay is a unique geographical locale, it is made up of many micro regions that differ from each other by the amount of sedimentation they experience. Some areas experience very high rates of sedimentation than other areas. Incidentally, the two legs of SSC that are to be dredged fall in areas of higher rates of sedimentation [ref 17].

4. Palk Bay is an area identified as highly prone to tropical cyclones. They have caused large-scale damages in this area in the past. Out of the 61 cyclones that have crossed the Tamil Nadu coast in the period between 1891-1995 A.D., 6 have directly crossed the Palk Bay; 14 have crossed the Nagapattinam coast; 3 have crossed the Gulf of Mannar. Based on the storm surge values (3 to 5 meters), India Meteorological Department considers the coastal stretch between Nagapattinam and Pamban as a High Risk Zone to tropical cyclones [ref 17]. The 1964 December 23 cyclone had produced a storm surge of 6 meters [ref 18]. Based on the degree of uncertainty in the prior prediction of cyclones Sutapa Chaudary et al (2004) have named this coastal stretch (and that of Bangladesh) as the most vulnerable ones among the many coastal regions of the Bay of Bengal, for Severe Tropical Cyclones [ref 19].

5. It has been identified that the sediments have a tendency to move toward Palk Bay both during the normal times as well as during the times of cyclones [ref 20].

The preliminary post tsunami studies available so far on the effect of tsunami on Palk Bay have not contradicted any of the above pre-tsunami conclusions. They have once more affirmed the demand by the scientific community that all the above said issues should be studied in depth before taking up any major project in the area.

The SSC Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in the light of above findings

Chandramohan et al.,16 have calculated the total annual sediment load for this sink as 58.8000 X 106 m3. This sediment load is said to cause a sea depth reduction of 1 cm/year. Marine and riverine sources contribute these sediments. Small rivers draining into Palk Bay in the Sri Lankan and Indian coasts, longshore currents from Bay of Bengal in the north and Gulf of Mannar in the south transport these sediments into the Palk Bay. Sanil Kumar et al., 20 have calculated the net quantum of littoral sediments entering into the Palk Bay from the Nagapattinam coast as 0.095 X 106 m3. The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for SSCP by NEERI has calculated the net annual sediment transport by long shore current and tides in the Adams Bridge area as 00.2657 X 106 m3(Ref 14). The sediment contribution from the rivers is yet to be calculated. These studies indicate that we are yet to pinpoint the sediment source for about 58.4393 X 106 m3 (i.e.99.386%) of the total sedimentation volume as indicated by Chandramohan et al.’s study.

The total quantity of spoils that would come from capital dredging is supposed to be 81.5 to 88.5 X 106 m3. The quantum of dredged spoil that would come from maintenance dredging is supposed to be 0.1 X 106 m3 / year. Specific dumpsite has been identified only for 8.5 to 9.5 % of the total dredged spoil. Idea about the nature of the dredged spoil is available presently, only for about 38.5 to 40.5 % of the total dredged spoil. No idea exists at the present time on the nature of the dredged spoil that would be generated for 59.5 to 61.5 % of the total dredged material. We do not know the exact dumpsites for about 90.5 to 91.5 % of the dredged material [ref 17].

EIA and the Technical Feasibility Report (TFR) are the two tools based on whose scientific strengths the Ministry of Environment and Forests accepts or rejects a project. The NEERI EIA and TFR for SSCP had ignored the issues of sedimentation, cyclones and tsunami in their entirety. Even the director of NEERI had accepted this in a recent press interview openly. Strangely, MoE&F had chosen to give its clearance for the project even though the project’s EIA and TFR are incomplete.

Indian study initiatives on the December 26th tsunami

NIO, Goa has given a model of tsunami wave propagation in February 2005.

An oceanographic expedition to tsunami-affected areas was mounted on 15 January 2005 utilizing the services of the multidisciplinary ocean research vessel, ORV Sagar Kanya, the flagship of the country involving participation of oceanographers from NCAOR and NIO, Goa and NIO, Regional Centre (RC), Visakhapatnam, NPOL, Kochi and NORINCO, Chennai. It ended on 21 February thus lasting 37 days. Its preliminary report has been published in CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 88, NO. 7, 10 APRIL 2005.

NIO along with Department of Science & Technology (DST), Department of Ocean Development (DOD), Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Indian National Science Academy (INSA) had conducted on 21 and 22 January 2005, a brain storming session on the issue of disaster management in the coastal areas with respect to cyclones and tsunamis. Indian and international experts in tsunami, cyclones, oceanography and geology had participated in this session. Following this session, NIO along with the other above said departments had organized a “National Workshop on Formulation of Science Plan for” Coastal Hazard Preparedness” on 18 – 19 February 2005. Various Indian and International experts attended this workshop again. Incidentally, NEERI had sent its representative to attend this workshop.

This workshop had noted the following: “India has a long coastline (~7500 km) and a large Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) (~2 million sq. km.) that includes two major groups of islands, all of which are susceptible to different coastal hazards. Peninsular India comprises of nine populous states, with a significant component of their economy in some way related to the sea. This includes fishing, shipping, ports and harbors, tourism and allied industries. The last few years have also seen new investment being made in our coastal zone (on the continental shelf and slope) for oil and gas exploration. The investment – over US$ two billion per year by some estimates – involves construction of platforms, pipelines, and other structures. These could eventually become a critical component of the national economy. With these new developments also come new threats: while these offshore structures are vulnerable to storm surges or tsunami or submarine mudslides, they are also a potential source of oil spills, which too constitute a hazard affecting fisheries and coastal environment

Engineering solutions for control and remediation are important where and when the cheaper and less intrusive natural methods are ineffective. With exploration for oil gaining momentum, offshore structural engineering is gaining importance. The potential threat to such structures from submarine mudslides necessitates engineering design solutions to mitigate the impact. Since poor quality of construction has been identified as one of the causes of higher fatalities due to natural hazards in India, quantification of these hazards must also lead to better regulations and viable building codes.”

However, MoE&F had refused to consider the results of all these research and policy initiatives while rushing a clearance for SSCP.
International initiatives in risk assessment

There are 3 records of past tsunamis that had affected Palk Bay. They are the tsunamis of 31 december1881, 26 August1883 and 26 June 1941.

The 1883 tsunami had been studied in detail by Prof.Byung Ho Choi of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Sungkyunkwan University, Suwon, Korea. He was here in India this January to study the December 26th tsunami run up. His study along with Prof.Siripong titled “When the Sea Strikes Back: The December 26, 2004 Earthquake Tsunami of the Indian Ocean – Post Runup Survey” is to be presented in the Workshop on Indonesian Ocean Tsunami 2005 and the 13th PAMS/JECSS Meeting to be held at Bali, Indonesia, in 13-15 July 2005.
MoE&F should have directed the TPT to consider the implications of all these studies on the long-term stability of the canal. Instead of this, it had issued a clearance for the project in much haste.

Conclusion

MoE&F is the top environmental regulating body in India. It is responsible for scrutinizing the scientific credentials (with respect to environment) of all the major projects coming up in India. In the case of Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project, we see this body faltering in its job as a scientifically informed regulator. Steps to correct this flaw should now be undertaken by the PMO, Cabinet Committee and the Planning Commission. Without this corrective step, it is felt, that the project might turn out to be a failure in all its aspects. Such a failure has the potential to cause great hardship to the economy, environment and the social fabric not only of India but also of Sri Lanka. It would also turn out to be a perfect negative example for all the future EIAs in India. The project’s failure might also cost India its honor as a developing nation that has the technological potential to become a developed one by the year 2020.

References:

1) The Hindu 9 April 2005

2) EPW, 22-28 January 2005, Current Science 2 February, 2005, The New Indian Express 9 March 2005, The New Indian Express 29 March 2005, The Hindu 30 March 2005

3) The Telegraph India, 29 January 2005

4) Dina Thanthi 31 March 2005

5) PTI, 27 December 2004

6) The Hindu 25 March 2005

7) The Hindu 7 April 2005

8) http://www.nio.org http://www.nio.org

9) The Hindu 10 April 2005

10) For a 3 dimensional model of Palk Bay based on Prof.Sandwell’s (of Scripps Institute of Oceanography) satellite bathymentric data see: http://southindiatsunami.blogspot.com

11) This point is proved by the data on the run-up heights published in: R.K.Chadha, G.Latha, Harry Yeh, Curt Peterson, Toshitama Katada, “The tsunami of the great Sumatra earthquake of M 9.0 on December 2004 – Impact on the east coast of India”, in Current Science, Vol.88, No.8, 25 April 2005

12) The Times of India, JANUARY 14, 2005

13) Dr.Senthil Kumaran, Unpublished Report

14) The Hindu, 22 April 2005, “Marine ecology of Bay of Bengal irrevocably altered by tsunami”

15) NEERI, EIA for Proposed Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project, May, 2004, p.3.63

16) Chandramohan, P., Jena, B.K., and Sanil Kumar, V., ‘Littoral drift sources and sinks along the Indian coast’, Current Science, Vol. 81, No. 3, 10, 2001, p-295

17) Ramesh, R. ‘Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project and the unconsidered high risk factors’, at http:\\www.geocities.com\sethushipcanal

18) Jeyanthi, N., “Cyclone Disaster Risk in Coastal Region”, in ‘Cyclone Disaster Management’ National Interactive Workshop held at Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, February 25-26, 2002.

19) Chaudhuri, S., Chattopadhyay, S., ‘Identification of coasts vulnerable for severe Tropical Cyclones – Statistical Evaluation’, Mausam, 55, 3 (July 2004), p. 502-507

20) Sanil Kumar, V., Anand,NM., and Gowthaman,R., ‘Variations in nearshore processes along Nagapattinam coast, India’,Current Science, Vol. 82, No. 11, 2002, p-1381 – 1389

Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
R.Ramesh

CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 88, NO. 4, 25 FEBRUARY 2005, p 536-537

Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project (SSCP) is about developing an offshore shipping canal in the Palk Bay, intended to cut short the distance for ships navi-gating between the west and east coasts of India, by avoiding the circumnaviga-tion of Sri Lanka. In the new route, the ships would navigate through the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Bay and enter the Bay of Bengal directly. The central idea of the project involves dredging the shallow seabed of the Palk Bay and Adam’s Bridge to a depth of 12 m, in order to make this short route possible. The total length of the canal in the Palk Bay is 152.2 km, with a width of 300 m. This is divided into three legs: the southern leg in the Adam’s Bridge (20 km); the northern leg in the Palk Strait (54.2 km) and the central portion (78 km). Dredging would be done in the southern and northern legs only since the central segment is considered to have the adequate depth (ref 1). So far, we have had the experience of dredging navigation channels near the shipping ports, and SSCP is our first effort to dredge a navigation channel, located 30 to 40 km away from the coast. This will also have the reputation of being the longest seabed-dredging project planned so far in India. Earlier, four notes highlighting the general spin offs from this project have been published in Current Science (ref 2-4). Here I address some of the short-term as well as the long-term implications of this project from the existing database. Most importantly, the present note raises some relevant questions on the technical feasibility of this project, which seems to have been overlooked by the project impact assessment studies, sponsored by the Central Government. 

Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
R.Ramesh

CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 88, NO. 4, 25 FEBRUARY 2005, p 536-537

Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project (SSCP) is about developing an offshore shipping canal in the Palk Bay, intended to cut short the distance for ships navi-gating between the west and east coasts of India, by avoiding the circumnaviga-tion of Sri Lanka. In the new route, the ships would navigate through the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Bay and enter the Bay of Bengal directly. The central idea of the project involves dredging the shallow seabed of the Palk Bay and Adam’s Bridge to a depth of 12 m, in order to make this short route possible. The total length of the canal in the Palk Bay is 152.2 km, with a width of 300 m. This is divided into three legs: the southern leg in the Adam’s Bridge (20 km); the northern leg in the Palk Strait (54.2 km) and the central portion (78 km). Dredging would be done in the southern and northern legs only since the central segment is considered to have the adequate depth (ref 1). So far, we have had the experience of dredging navigation channels near the shipping ports, and SSCP is our first effort to dredge a navigation channel, located 30 to 40 km away from the coast. This will also have the reputation of being the longest seabed-dredging project planned so far in India. Earlier, four notes highlighting the general spin offs from this project have been published in Current Science (ref 2-4). Here I address some of the short-term as well as the long-term implications of this project from the existing database. Most importantly, the present note raises some relevant questions on the technical feasibility of this project, which seems to have been overlooked by the project impact assessment studies, sponsored by the Central Government. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

002.00 The Issue of the proposed Sethusamudram Samudram Shipping Canal Project

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
Manimehalai Sangamitra

The Indian Prime Minister’s Office and the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Ms.Jayalalithaa had raised the issue of its technical feasibility recently. Indian Express, a leading Indian newspaper had ‘the doubts raised by the Indian PMO on the technical feasibility of the canal’ as its headline news item on 9th March 2005. TN Chief Minister’s publicly stated doubt on this issue was a lead news item in most South Indian newspapers dated 30th March 2005.

Doubts on the technical feasibility of the canal came into limelight on January 28th, when Dr.Tad.S.Murty, a leading international tsunami expert and a long time editor of the prestigious international tsunami journal ‘Science of Tsunami Hazards’, had a few important words to say, among other things, on the proposed alignment of Sethusamudram Shipping Canal. He said, “I like this (Sethusamudram) project, but there is a flaw. The entrance to the channel should be re-oriented towards the eastern side. Otherwise, there is a chance that it may create a deepwater route for another devastating tsunami. This may cause huge destruction in Kerala.”
But, the issue is not just the alignment of the canal with respect to future tsunamis. There is much more, that has to be answered. Dr.C.P.Rajendran, a world renown geologist and paleo-seismologist at the Center for Earth Science Studies (CESS) Trivandrum, had the following to say in an interview to PTI on 27th December 2004: “I tend to believe that the environmental viability of the project is to be questioned; From an earth science point of view, I believe that the project area is highly unstable in terms of rapid sedimentation rates, high velocity ocean currents and cyclonic storms. Unless we have a clear and unambiguous understanding of the sedimentation rates along the various stretches of the Palk Bay strait, the sustainability of the project cannot be guaranteed.”

‘Current Science’, an important Indian science journal, had published a research article on this topic in its 25 February 2005 issue. The article noted: “The current level of our understanding on the sedimentation patterns and associated dynamics existing in the segments of the Palk Strait both during cyclone-free years and during the cyclonic years is not adequate enough to design ‘the structure and the alignment’ of the canal and to draw a policy on the methods of handling the dredged material safely. The current tsunami crisis in the Bay of Bengal makes us to rethink the whole issue of our knowledge base on the geology, oceanography of this region. This note postulates, based on the above findings, that the SSCP is not feasible technically at the present moment, with the current level of understanding of the sedimentation and meteorological regimes of the project area.”

The project proponents, namely Tuticorin Port Trust (TPT) and the Ministry of Shipping and Surface Transport chose not to participate in this debate and answer these questions in the public domain. However, when the director of the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) of India that did the Environmental Impact Analysis (EIA) and the Technical Feasibility Report (TFR) for SSCP was questioned by the press on March 24th, he said: “The areas uncovered by NEERI, were studied by others. Sediment transport was one such issue.” He however did not answer as to why his organization had practically omitted the issues of cyclone and tsunami in its EIA or TFR.

Strangely, the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoE&F) that is responsible for scrutinizing the scientific credentials of the EIA and TFR before giving an environmental clearance for the project chose not to ask the TPT to provide answers to all the above questions raised by the Indian scientific community. The ministry cleared the project without much fuss in early April. The project proposal is now in front of the cabinet committee and the planning commission for its final approval.

It is in this context, the Indian Foreign Secretary visited Sri Lanka recently to discuss the issue of SSCP. He assured Sri Lanka with the words: “ Protection of the environment is a matter of great importance to India as well. We believe the safeguards which are required have been incorporated.” He, however chose not to discuss with anyone in Sri Lanka as to why the March 8th (unofficial) press note released by the PMO had said: ”The EIA and the TFR prepared by NEERI have ignored these (the effects of cyclones and tsunamis on the project; the issue of sedimentation in Palk Bay) aspects… Going ahead with the construction of this mega project without collecting information on the above aspects could lead to major economic, technical and human problems in future that could border on a disaster. If the project authority feels that these aspects have been adequately taken care of, they should provide convincing evidence and substantial evidence to that effect that will withstand the scrutiny of the scientific community at large.”

The recent Indian and the International studies on the effect of the December 26th tsunami on Palk Bay environs have reconfirmed once again that the proposed SSCP is not feasible technically at the present time. Strangely, the Indian PMO remains silent on the recent developments and has allowed the project proponents to proceed with out answering the questions it had raised only two months ago.

Hence, it has become a scientific necessity to analyze the possible impacts of constructing a scientifically unsound, technically non-feasible shipping canal in Palk Bay on the environment around.

Download the news paper resources of the above text – Click Here. [78.6 KB pdf]http://manisanga.blogspot.com/  

UNION MINISTERS THIRU. T.R. BAALU AND THIRU. SURESH PACHAURI ADDRESS CONCERNS RAISED BY HINDU ACHARYAS

DELEGATION ON BEHALF OF THEIR HOLINESS SHANKARACHARYAS AND HINDU ACHARYAS MET THE UNION MINISTERS THIRU. BAALU AND THIRU. PACHAURI ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE SETHUSAMUDRAM SHIP CHANNEL PROJECT


 

Without prejudice to the on-going legal proceedings on the issue, giving due regard to the socio-cultural sentiments of the Hindu society, on the request of the Hindu Acharyas, the Ministry of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways decided to formally meet them to discuss and share various aspects about the Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project, with special reference to the Adam’s Bridge area in the light of state-of-the art scientific investigations carried out by the project authorities.

Thiru. T.R. Baalu, the Union Minister of Shipping, Road Transport & Highways, and Shri Suresh Pachauri, the Union Minister of State for Personnel, today met a delegation on behalf of their Holiness Shanakracharyas and Hindu Acharyas led by Swami Paramatmananda Saraswati, Secretary, Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha.

At the outset, Thiru. Baalu gave a brief account of the utmost care taken by the Project authorities and the Ministry in finalisation of the alignment of the Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project. He also informed that the detailed investigations including borehole studies and other geological studies undertaken by the specialist agencies have clearly brought out the fact that the Adam’s Bridge is a series of sand shoals created by sedimentation over a period of time. He also informed that the present alignment has been finalised after detailed deliberations and taking into consideration the location of existing temples in and around Rameshwaram as well as the National Marine Park in the Gulf of Mannar.

Thiru. N.K. Raghupathy, Chairman and Managing Director of the Sethusamudram Corporation Limited, gave a brief presentation on the technical studies like bathymetry studies, sub-bottom profiling, vibro-coring and borehole studies undertaken along and outside the final Channel alignment. He also explained that detailed technical investigations were carried out for the project since May 2002 by the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), an Institute under the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), which also undertook the Environmental Impact Assessment and the Techno-Economic Feasibility Studies for the Project. He explained that several reputed national organisations like the National Hydrographic Institute, Dehradun, the National Ship Design and Research Centre, Visakhapatnam, and the National Institute of Ocean Technology, Chennai, were associated in the project investigations. In addition to these, reputed Consultants from the private sector such as L&T-Ramboll Consulting Engineers, ALKYON BV of Netherlands, Indomer Hydraulics Private Limited, etc,. were also associated with specific technical studies. It was informed that, based on these studies, project authorities have not found any evidence of presence of a man-made structure in the proposed alignment.

The delegation expressed their satisfaction on the various studies and investigations carried out by the Project authorities and stated that they are in favour of the economic development of the region; but, the concerns and sentiments of the people should also be respected while executing the project.

Thiru. Baalu assured the delegation that under no circumstances the Government will disrespect or disregard the religious sentiments of the people in implementation of this project and he offered the delegation a Channel site visit along with the Project authorities for a first-hand assessment of the implementation work.

His Holiness Swami Paramatmananda Saraswati thanked Thiru. Baalu and his team of officers for sharing the views and concerns on the implementation of this prestigious Project and accepted the offer for the site visit in near future. http://pib.nic.in/release/release.asp?relid=26263  

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2 Responses to Setusamudram: sedimentation sink

  1. […] Many documents on sedimentation studies (summarised by R. Ramesh) should be studied and answered. So should Dr. K. Gopalakrishnan et al’s monograph on geotectonic/ geoenvironmental situation. Setusamudram- sedimentation sink « Hinducivilization […]

  2. […] Many documents on sedimentation studies (summarised by R. Ramesh) should be studied and answered. So should Dr. K. Gopalakrishnan et al’s monograph on geotectonic/ geoenvironmental situation. Setusamudram- sedimentation sink « Hinducivilization […]

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