Rama Setu: history, ecology at stake

Annex 20 US heritage body wants Ram Setu preserved  http://www.zeenews.com/znnew/articles.asp?aid=376577&sid=NAT  WAshington, June 12: The World Monuments Fund, a US-based international preservation body that brings out the annual world monument watch list of endangered sites, has come out in an open support of Ram Setu or Adam’s Bridge.

The Indian government should realise that it is more valuable to preserve it than to demolish it for the Sethusamudram canal project for bringing ships inland, the body has said.

The Ram Setu, which has become a tug of war between the government and the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Hindu organistions, does not figure in the list of endangered sites released in New York this week but fund chairman Marilyn Perry has stressed that the government can leave the disputed area untouched by re-routing the canal.

She also suggested that the government make it a tourist attraction by sending tourists in glass boats to the bottom of the site to view the beautiful rock formations.

While the government as well as the Supreme Court have rejected pleas to divert the canal instead of demolishing what they claim to be solidified sand dunes and no man-made construction of the so-called bridge as the saffron party claims, Marilyn suggests that an international team of scuba divers be allowed to take underwater photographs and carry out tests to find out whether the rock formations still exist.

“It is easy to demolish but hard to construct anything like this again,” she stressed.

In a New York-datelined interview published on Saturday, Marilyn agreed that her fund was not a world policeman and its requests may fall on deaf ears, but still it strives for creating an alternative vision of the value that the bureaucrats are not able to see.

‘They only see water and revenue, and not the archeological importance beneath the sea,’ she remarked.

Admitting that it can only try to create a public awareness about the endangered sites and other NGOs can also do so, she pointed out that more effective way will be to involve the local people if the government refuses to yield.

‘We could not stop construction of a dam in Turkey as the government would not listen to us. The am would flood some of the great archeological sites, yet the government was adamant,’ she added.

Her fund’s president, Bonnie Bumham, said the public voice can force stoppage of the demolition.

Bureau Report   Save Ram Setu  The Pioneer Edit Desk – June 12 2007 (Pioneer, New Delhi) History, ecology are at stake When the Taliban destroyed the Bamiyan statues, the world reacted with shocked horror at this act of barbarism. What the UPA Government proposes to do to Ram Setu, also known as Adam’s Bridge, is no less horrifying. As may be recalled, the Setusamudram Ship Channel Project aims to create a navigable sea route, between the Gulf of Mannar and Palk Bay, by slicing the Ram Setu in order to reduce the sailing distance between India’s coasts. Consequently, the Ram Setu, of known spiritual significance to Hindus, will be destroyed through extensive dredging. In fact, there are sound reasons for rejecting the project, as conceived at present, other than the important one of protecting the site for its cultural and religious worth. Among them, what are weighty are the objections that pertain to its wide-ranging environmental impact. For instance, experts have claimed shifts in the flows of currents would adversely affect sensitive ecosystems, as would the increasing possibility of damaging oil spills. It is estimated that fragile marine life, such as delicate corals, would be destroyed through the various processes unleashed. Life on the mainland would not remain unaffected as changes in seawater flows and temperature would impact climate and affect rainfall in coastal areas even as erosion could increase. Most importantly, experts inform us, the Ram Setu forms a barrier that blocks tsunamis, in the absence of which the entire coasts of Kerala and Tamil Nadu could be endangered. Were this not reason enough, Thorium deposits in Kerala and Tamil Nadu may be affected, upsetting India’s indigenous nuclear programme. It is significant that the Sir Mudaliar Committee Report of 1956 had recommended the abandonment of the idea of such a project, finding the channel alignment unsuitable. The argument about the spiritual significance of the site is no less compelling. It is neither here nor there to argue that there is little scientific evidence to prove that Adam’s Bridge is manmade. For, within each spiritual tradition are matters purely of belief for which no rational explanations or scientific proofs are available. Thus Christians believe in the immaculate conception, the Jews that the Red Sea parted for Moses, and Muslims that Islam was revealed to the Prophet through the divine agency of Angel Gabriel. The Hindu belief that Hanuman’s vanar sena built a bridge to Lanka that allowed Ram to cross over, fell Ravana and rescue Sita is in a similar vein and should hardly be scoffed at. The historicity of the event has little relevance to the debate, though it is possible that, as Indians were prone to oral narratives rather than written records, facts are likely to be the basis of the Ramayan. As the sentiments of hundreds of millions of people are involved, these cannot be trumped by the views of an individual Minister in a democracy. Nothing explains the unholy hurry in going ahead with the project except the need to pander to the crassest financial interests. http://dailypioneer.com/archives2/default12.asp?main_variable=edits&file_name=edit2%2Etxt&counter_img=2&phy_path_it=E%3A%5Cdailypioneer%5Carchives2%5Cjun1207
Annex 21. Sethusamudram Canal Project and nation’s security
 SSCP: Swami raises vital queries on security and Writes to Defence Minister on Ramar SethuNT Bureau
Chennai, June 12:
        Former Union Minister and Janata Party president Dr Subramanian Swami, who is spearheading the movement against the destruction of Ramar Sethu bridge for implementing the Sethusamudram Canal Project (SSCP), has shot off a letter to Union Defence Minister A K Antony raising questions of security.           Swami has also attached a 31-page enclosure prepared by a former captain of the Indian Navy H Balakrishnan, to substantiate his claim.         In his letter to the Defence Minister dated 9 June, Swami has said, ‘I am given to believe by officials of your Ministry that the Sethusamudram Canal Project (SSCP) was finalised without an input from the Navy especially from the angle of national security.         ‘The discourse on the Setusamudram Shipping Channel Project has so far been restricted to whether the Ramar Sethu is a ‘natural formation’ or an ‘artificial construct’. Your colleague, the Union Minister for Shipping and Transport (T R Baalu) in his daily media obfuscations has derailed the discussion away from the national security perspective.’         Swami further stated that ‘Balakrishnan has analysed the whole gamut of the SSCP and has produced a three-part paper on the subject (enclosed) the highlights of which are as follows:                     (A) PART-1: Analyses of the SSCP with respect to environmental factors. In this section, the author has highlighted the dangers to shipping posed by the ‘Tropical Cyclones’. Mariners call the Tamilnadu coast from Rameswaram to Cuddalore as the ‘cyclone coast’. Allied to the dangers posed by the cyclones to shipping, is the high siltation rates that occur in the Palk Straits. This would imply that maintenance dredging will have to be ’round the year’ affair escalating the maintenance of the canal. The writer has also highlighted the threat of the LTTE Sea Tigers, who control the seas on the Sri Lankan side of the IMBL. The recent attack on the Sri Lankan Naval Base at the Delft Island, poses a clear danger to shipping in the SSCP. That the DMK to which Baalu belongs, is known from the days I was a Union Minister, as compliant to the LTTE’s needs, and hence the LTTE Sea Tigers may not be regarded by him as a threatening element.         (B) PART-2: This part is a ‘Time and Distance’ calculation for a vessel’s voyage from Kolkata/Chennai to Tuticorin circumnavigating Sri Lanka as also transiting through the SSCP. The SSCP is to have a dredged depth of 12 Metres. This permits vessels with a maximum draught of 10.7 M to pass through the channel. The underfoot clearence for the vessel is 1.3 M. This low underfoot clearence mandatorily entails the ship to precede at ‘slow speeds of 6 to 8 Knots’ through the Channel, on account of a phenomenon, termed as the ‘Shallow Water Effect’ by the mariners. On account of this fact, the paper finds that for a vessel on passage from Kolkata to Tuiticorin around Sri Lanka and through SSCP saves only 1.75 hours by routing through the latter, for a speed combination 0f 12 and 6 knots!!         (C) PART-3: The subject of ‘Cost-Benefit’ analysis of the Project to the shipping industry is considered. The summary of the finding of this section is that it is more ‘cost-effective’ for a vessel to circumnavigate Sri Lanka that transit through the SSCP!!         In other words, the SSCP makes no ‘nautical sense’, and is conducive to terrorist forces such as the LTTE, Swami has said in his letter. http://newstodaynet.com/12jun/rf16.htm

One Response to Rama Setu: history, ecology at stake

  1. Ruud Orlagh says:

    oh i can’t believe what i’m seeing with my eye. Ruud Orlagh.

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