Setu channel as project disaster

The SSCP – ‘Ramayana’ facts vs ‘Keemayana’ fictionV SUNDARAM (News Today, 8, 9, 11, 12 June, 2007)          It is not the facts which guide the conduct of our Cabinet Ministers in New Delhi, but their preconceived opinions about facts, which may be entirely wrong. We as helpless citizens can only endeavor to make them right by bringing them up for open public debate and discussion. If there is a Union Cabinet Minister who blatantly avoids solid facts like fire or runs away from facts or hides vital facts from public view regardless of costs and consequences to the Nation and its Exchequer, it is the Union Shipping and Transport Minister, T R Baalu. His official contempt for our Prime Minister, running counter to and cutting at the root of the very basis of Cabinet System of Government, is now not only a matter of common knowledge but common public joke, throughout the country. In so far as the SSCP is concerned, T R Baalu believes in manufacturing his own ”Periyar-Keemayana” fiction everyday which runs counter to all the known scientific facts assiduously collected and documented by several scientific and technical Bodies/ Departments of the Government of India.          It is a national tragedy that under the UPA Government’s unwritten working commandment, the good Ministers have no command and the wicked and corrupt ones have full and unrestrained command. That is the only unfortunate though reasonable inference that the mute millions of India can draw about the shoddy way in which the SSCP has been drawn up and is being implemented with undue haste in gross violation of the Due Process of Law and Procedure enjoined upon the Government of India under various mandatory provisions of the Constitution.          Edmund Burke (1729-1797), one of the greatest political philosophers of all time rightly said: ”Facts are to the mind what food is to the body. On the due digestion of the former depend the strength and wisdom of the one, just as vigor and health depend on the other. The wisest in Council, the ablest in debate in the House of Commons and the most successful public leader in a nation’s polity, is the man who has assimilated to his full understanding the greatest number of relevant and accurate facts”.          But to Union Shipping and Transport Minister T R Baalu such facts are his sworn enemies to be avoided or at any rate killed at any cost like house flies using the seals of his transitory public office. Moreover he has an unconcealed contempt for scientific facts and men of science. He refuses to see or acknowledge that scientific facts, combined with practical ideas, constitute the greatest force in the world. T R Baalu has failed to understand that facts not frankly faced have a habit of stabbing us in the back. As Winston Churchill declared: ”Get the facts, or the facts will get you. And when you get’em, get’em right, or they will get you wrong”. T R Baalu has landed himself in such an unenviable and difficult situation today. All mature Ministers in all civilized countries set this working motto before themselves: ”Let us keep our mouths shut and pens dry until we know the facts”. T R Baalu has no faith in such a pragmatic philosophy. Further a responsible Cabinet Minister should understand that facts mean nothing unless they are rightly understood, rightly related and rightly interpreted. Such an attitude is wholly anathema to T R Baalu. For him facts mean nothing. They must be cleverly avoided or wrongly understood, wrongly related and mischievously interpreted. This has been his policy at every stage during the implementation of the Setusamudram Shipping Canal Project (SSCP) ever since its inception in 2004.          Taking full note of the above murky general background, Dandi Swami Sri Vidyananda Bharati filed a Writ Petition (No. 272 of 2007) in the Supreme Court of India, fully fortified and documented with scientific facts and figures, invoking the Original Jurisdiction of Article 32 of the Constitution of India as a Public Interest litigation on behalf of the citizens of India, in particular of the States of Tamilnadu and Kerala, seeking protection of the fundamental rights contained in Articles 14, 19, 21 and 25 of the Constitution of India and praying for orders against the implementation of the Setusamudram Shipping Canal Project (The ”Project”).          The Supreme Court in its order dated 29 May 2007 advised the petitioner to approach the appropriate authorities in the Government of India and the concerned State Government for specific relief from the relevant Departments in regard to the specific scientific/ administrative issues raised before the Supreme Court of India. Accordingly Dandi Swami Sri Vidyananda Bharati has filed the DEMAND NOTICE PETITION with the President of India, Prime Minister’s office, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Ministry of Cultural Affairs, Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Shipping, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences in the Government of India in New Delhi and also the State of Tamilnadu through its Chief Secretary and the Department of Environment and Forests, Government of Tamilnadu. In his Demand Petition, he has demanded that these public authorities should give him a reply on the points raised by him within three weeks as indicated by the Supreme Court of India.          I would like to summarize the vital and cardinal scientific issues and points raised by Dandi Swami Sri Vidyananda Bharati in his DEMAND NOTICE PETITIONS referred to above in the larger public interest of the pursuit of truth, information and enlightenment. The pseudo-secular mafia of print and electronic mass media, daily revelling only in dishing out drivel, duplicity and demeaning programmes on account of their known anti-Hindu pseudo-secular fervour and unrequited infatuation for Sonia led UPA Government, would go to the end of the world to choke all the avenues of public information or sources of truth relating to the vital public issues affecting the larger national interest raised in the Demand Notice Petition presented by Dandi Swami Sri Vidyananda Bharati.          In his Demand Notice Petition, immediate redressal has been sought from various public authorities both in the government of India and the Government of Tamilnadu in regard to the following issues / points:  A)     The ”Project” has been conceptualized without taking into account the likelihood of a Tsunami or its disastrous effects in a slip-shod manner that is arbitrary and unreasonable, violating the fundamental right to equality under Article 14 and the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution. Neither the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report by NEERI completed in May / August 2004 nor the DPR by L&T / Ramboll for the Project completed in February 2005 have taken into account the likelihood or effects of a Tsunami, despite the massive destruction caused by the Tsunami which hit the coast line of South India on 26 December, 2004. Prof. Tad S Murthy, a world renowned Tsunami Expert and a former Editor of a prestigious scientific and technical Journal called ‘Tsunami Effects Review’ has categorically warned that the proposed alignment of the mid-ocean channel under the ”Project” is such that it will so funnel and amplify the wave from a Tsunami from south east Asia as to cause massive destruction of life and property in areas on the coast line of Kerala and Tamilnadu. The relevant and timely warning given by Prof. Tad S Murthy has been ignored with dictatorial impunity by T R Balu and his officers.  B)     Established and well known precautionary principles that should govern any environmental clearance have not been weighed and analysed by the Ministry of Environment in the Government of India while giving environmental clearance for the ”Project” under the Environmental (Protection) Act, 1986. The Ministry of Environment has completely ignored the following instructions laid down by the Supreme Court off India in Vellore Citizens’ Welfare Forum versus Union of India (1996) 5 SCC 647 (page 658): ”Where there are threats of serious and irreversible damage, lack of scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation”. Despite the fact that there is a serious likelihood of danger to the unique habitat and the ecosystem of the Gulf of Mannar arising from dredging and dumping of material from / on the ocean floor to widen the channel to 300 metres wide and 12 metres deep under the ”Project”, the public authorities put in charge of the ”Project” are blindly going ahead with the process of construction of the channel without considering the possible disastrous outcome of serious environmental degradation. The endangered species in the Gulf of Mannar region include the Dugong (Sea Cow), Sea Horses, five Species of Marine Turtles and Whales and Dolphins. Eminent Marine Biologists have confirmed that in this region there is also a unique link species between Vertebrates and Invertebrates called Balano-Glossus that is unique to the Mannar region. These species thrive in the endangered habitats consisting of mangrove forests and sea grasses surrounding the cluster of Islands on the Southern coast of Tamilnadu which have been declared as a National Park under the Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972.          I am sorry to have to say that I cannot too often repeat that DEMOCRACY in India is a word the real gist of which still sleeps, quite unawakened like a sleeping giant, notwithstanding the resonance and the many angry tempests out of which its syllables have come during the last 125 years, from pen to tongue. For me, as an insignificant and unnoticed freelance journalist, Democracy is a great word, whose glorious history, I suppose, remains untold and unwritten because that history has yet to be enacted.    Dandi Swami Sri Vidyananda Bharati has declared in his Demand Notice Petitions to the Government of India and the Government of Tamilnadu arising out of the orders of the Supreme Court dated 29 May 2007 on the Writ Petition (No. 272 of 2007) filed by him before the Supreme Court, that he is spiritually guided by GURUJI Jagadguru Shankaracharya of Jyotishpeeth and Dwarka Sharadapeeth Pujyapad Sri Swarupananda Saraswati-ji Maharaja, and that he belongs to no political party or organization, and that his Writ Petition has been presented to the Supreme Court only and exclusively for the benefit of the masses, which he views as his paramount, sacred, and Fundamental Duty cast upon him by the Constitution of India under Article 51a(g) and 51a(h) of the Indian Constitution.          In this context all the Hindus of India whole heartedly welcome the heroic statement made and ultimatum given to the following effect to the Government of India by DWARAKA PEETH’S SHANKARACHARYA SWAMI SWAROOPANAND SARASWATI on the overriding public need for the protection of RAM SETU at Narsinghpur, Madhya Pradesh on 7 June, 2007.         We hereby warn the Government of India that we would launch a massive and unprecedented National agitation from Himalayas to Kanyakumari and from the Rann of Katch to the Bay of Bengal if the decision of the Government of India to demolish and destroy the Ram Setu off Rameshwaram coast is not withdrawn forthwith or at any rate withdrawn within a period of two weeks. The Government of India’s callous, cruel, contemptuous and adamant attitude in regard to the matter of Ram Setu is compelling all the people of India, who have faith in our ancient Indian culture, to adopt harsh means to ensure the protection of Ram Setu. By its own policies, divorced from ground level realities, Government of India have created a situation today wherein only those who resort to violent means are heard while those who follow the non-violent path of Mahatma Gandhi are ignored. This is not good for the survival of our democracy.          Now to turn to the case of Dandi Swami Sri Vidyananda Bharati relating to Ram Setu, In his Demand Petition presented to the Ministry of Environment and Forests in the Government of India and also to the Department of Environment and Forests in the Government of Tamilnadu, Sri Vidyananda Bharati has invited their specific and focussed attention to the fact that the UNESCO has declared the Gulf of Mannar as a protected Biosphere. Taking note of this, both the Government of India and the Government of Tamilnadu have confirmed this declaration of a Biosphere Reserve for the Purposes of the Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972.   In view of this, the Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve is entitled to the statutory protections contemplated by Chapter IV of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. No permit / permission for activities destructive of wildlife such as those inherent in the PROJECT may be granted except in order to protect wildlife.               Further, the PROJECT involves not only dredging over many square kilometers of the ocean floor but also controlled blasting in the Palk Straits and Gulf of Mannar, which will endanger the flora and fauna of Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve declared by UNESCO to be one of the most important biodiversity hotspots in Asia and declared as such by the Government of India and the State of Tamilnadu. The Gulf of Mannar is home to a number of endangered species such as the dugong (sea cow), the sea horse, sea turtles, whales and dolphins and to endangered habitats such as coral reefs, mangrove forests and sea-grasses that support the species named above. Apart from such serious violations of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, the environmental clearances for the Project under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, have been granted in complete violation of statutory provisions and without taking into account the protective actions recommended by the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, a Central Government Agency (NEERI), in its Environmental Impact Assessment Report (The EIA Report).          It is very vital to note that the PROJECT also involves cutting through the Ram Setu barrier in Palk Straits (situated south east of Rameshwaram near Pamban and connects Talaimanar coast of Sri- Lanka) which is believed to be man made according to highly reputed marine archaeologists, geologists and earth scientists, with its origins stretching back into pre-historic antiquity. No investigation has yet been done to determine whether the Rama Setu structure is eligible and deserving of statutory protection as an ancient monument or an archaeological site under the Ancient Monuments Act, 1958.          There is considerable scientific evidence available to the effect that the Rama Setu Bridge is man-made. NEERI which was mandated to examine this issue under the existing guidelines of the Ministry of Environment and forests, for unstated and inexplicably mysterious reasons, simply proceeded on the basis that the Ram Setu is not man made. Article 51 A (f) of the Constitution enjoins protection of the cultural heritage of India. Therefore it is the bounden duty and responsibility of the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) to undertake an immediate survey to determine under the Ancient Monuments Act, 1958 as to whether or not the Ram Setu is man made. Dandi Swami Sri Vidyananda Bharati in his Demand Notice Petition to the Ministry of Culture has demanded that the Ministry of Culture should immediately order the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) to undertake an immediate Survey in this regard. As there is adequate scientific, historic, cartographic, epigraphic, numismatic and literary evidence to prove the existence of Ram Setu for countless centuries, it would be proper for the Government of India in the Union Ministry of Culture to request the Union Ministry of Shipping to stop further progress under the PROJECT before it destroys Ram Setu forever and to direct the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) as an ancient national monument qualifying for permanent statutory protection under the Ancient Monuments Act, 1958.          Further, the environmental clearance given by the Union Ministry for Environment and Forests dated 31.03.2005 was totally vitiated on account of its arbitrariness and non-application of mind. One of the most important environmental aspects of the project is the problem of disposal/dumping of the dredged material. The NEERI study report highlighted the fact that dredging would lead to increase in turbidity (i.e., suspended matter in the ocean) at, and in the vicinity of, the site; thereby preventing penetration of sunlight into the water body, which would endanger the survival of marine flora and fauna at and around the site. For these reasons, quick and efficient removal of the dredged material was considered as critical by NEERI. Further, NEERI suggested that the disposal of the dredged material would have to be done in a manner that minimized the likelihood of any adverse impact at the disposal site. On detailed examination and analysis, the EIA study by NEERI recommended that disposal would have to take place both on land, as well as at sea; the clay and silt to be disposed off/dumped on land or to be used to help reclaim land near Pumban island, and the sand to be dumped at suitable sites in the sea, at least 20-25 kilometres from the Gulf of Mannar Marine Biosphere Reserve.          The NEERI Study Report also recommended that the Project be implemented in two phases; the first phase involving dredging the channel upto 10m depth, and the depth being increased to 12m in the second phase only after observing and analysing the environmental impact of the first phase. The NEERI report itself added a word of caution, stating that the route would become environmentally viable only if the management plans and recommended measures proposed by NEERI are strictly followed          This above note of caution given by NEERI has been totally disregarded and ignored by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests while giving its environment clearance on 31.03.2005. Firstly, the recommendation made by NEERI regarding the implementation of the ”PROJECT” in two phases does not seem to have been considered by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF) at all. Secondly the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF), in its clearance dated 31 March, 2005, while laying down a specific condition that the Environment Management Plan recommended by NEERI should be implemented” (Specific Condition ‘xix’), has, at the same time, categorically prescribed that the ”dredged material will be disposed off in the identified sites in the sea”, and that no dredged material will be disposed off on land (specific condition ‘I’). This is in clear conflict with the recommendations of NEERI, as well as the Environment Management Plan prepared by it. Clearly, despite the caution sounded by the NEERI itself, this condition laid down in the environmental clearance would itself render the project environmentally non-viable. No reason, much less a detailed or a satisfactory one, has been given by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF) for this operational departure from the NEERI’s recommendations; showing the total non-application of mind by the MOEF.          Dandi Swami Sri Vidyananda Bharati in his Demand Notice Petition has invited the attention of the Government of India to the fact that the enormous religious sentiment of the Hindus of India with respect to Ram Setu, sacredly viewed as a creation of Lord Rama and his Vanara army led by Lord Hanuman, has also been intentionally disregarded with supreme contempt by the Government of India at the highest level in general and the Union Ministries of Culture, Environment and Forests and Shipping and Transport of the Government of India in particular. This clearly raises issues under Articles 25 and 26 of the Indian Constitution relating to Freedom of Religious Conscience and Freedom to Manage Religious affairs.         Dandi Swami Sri Vidyananda Bharati in his Demand Notice Petition to the Government of India and the Government of Tamilnadu has highlighted the following vital ‘Environmental’ and other connected issues which have been totally ignored or overlooked by the Government of India and the Government of Tamilnadu while giving their final clearance to the Setusamudram Shipping Canal Project (SSCP). Government of India and the Government of Tamilnadu will be putting our whole nation in a state of mortal peril if they choose to ignore the grave and timely warning signals given by Sri Vidyananda Bharati, wholly based on rigorously analysed and scientifically and technically valid points and arguments adduced by him, in his Demand Notice Petition.          The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF) in the Government of India while giving its environmental clearance on 31 May, 2005 displayed a total non-application of mind as is evident from the fact that issues regarding unplanned and uncontrolled ‘ingress’ of alien species of flora and fauna into the Gulf of Mannar, as well as the Palk Bay, Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal, consequent upon the digging of the Setusamudram Canal, have been completely overlooked by the MOEF. India became a signatory to the UN CONVENTION ON BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY that was adopted at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. This Convention set before itself the following three main goals:          1. Conservation of biological diversity (or biodiversity);         2. Sustainable use of its components; and         3. Fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from genetic resources.         In other words, its objective is to develop national strategies for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. This UN Convention Document has been viewed as the key document regarding sustainable development.          Article 8 of the UN Convention Document clearly sets out the measures to be taken and policies to be adopted for In-situ Conservation. Article 8 of the Convention states as follows:          Each Contracting Party shall, as far as possible and as appropriate:          (a) Establish a system of protected areas or areas where special measures need to be taken to conserve biological diversity;         (b) Develop, where necessary, guidelines for the selection, establishment and management of protected areas or areas where special measures need to be taken to conserve biological diversity;         (c) Regulate or manage biological resources important for the conservation of biological diversity whether within or outside protected areas, with a view to ensuring their conservation and sustainable use;         (d) Promote the protection of ecosystems, natural habitats and the maintenance of viable populations of species in natural surroundings;         (e) Promote environmentally sound and sustainable development in areas adjacent to protected areas with a view to furthering protection of these areas;         (f) Rehabilitate and restore degraded ecosystems and promote the recovery of threatened species, inter alia, through the development and implementation of plans or other management strategies;         (g) Establish or maintain means to regulate, manage or control the risks associated with the use and release of living modified organisms resulting from biotechnology which are likely to have adverse environmental impacts that could affect the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, taking also into account the risks to human health;         (h) PREVENT THE INTRODUCTION OF, CONTROL OR ERADICATE THOSE ALIEN SPECIES WHICH THREATEN ECOSYSTEMS, HABITATS OR SPECIES;          Despite the fact that India became a signatory to the UN CONVENTION ON BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY as early as in 1992, the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF), for reasons best known only to itself, blatantly ignored Article 8 of this UN Convention in general and more particularly Article 8 (h) detailed above while giving its environmental clearance to the Setusamudram Shipping Canal Project (SSCP) on 3, March, 2005. I can only draw the simple and straightforward inference that the MOEF is more committed to the petty political (Both Regional and National!!) and commercial ambitions (!!!) of T R Baalu than to the overriding cause of protection of the natural environment in the Bay of Bengal, Gulf of Mannar and the Indian Ocean. For MOEF the ‘protection’ (!) of T R Baalu seems to be overridingly fundamental and the protection of the environment casually incidental!!          NEERI in its study report, while accepting the richness in Biodiversity of the Gulf of Mannar, had specifically referred to the grave risk of introduction of alien species into this pristine and unique habitat in the following words:          The Channel will facilitate the movement of fish and other biota from the Bay of Bengal to the Indian Ocean and vice versa. By this way, the entry of oceanic and alien species into the Palk Bay and the Gulf of Mannar, as also the dispersal of endemic species outside the Palk Bay and the Gulf of Mannar could occur.          Excavation of the channel in the Adams Bridge sector would provide a deeper passage in the sector, which is shallow at present, and serves only as a barrier. Underwater currents play a significant role, not only in the transportation of large marine organisms, plankton biota, fish eggs and larvae but also on shore dynamics, especially of the islands, reef and paars. Strong current would erode the banks of the canal and carry the sediments from one sector to another, which ultimately results in accretion of sand in one sector and erosion in another sector. ONCE THE CANAL IS DEEPENED, THE PASSAGE WOULD GREATLY INCREASE THE MOVEMENT OF FISHES AND OTHER LARGE ANIMALS FROM BAY OF BENGAL TO INDIAN OCEAN AND VICE VERSA. Hence, the entry of oceanic and alien species into Palk Bay and Gulf of Mannar and also dispersal of endemic species outside Palk Bay and Gulf of Mannar would be facilitated.          This dangerous aspect highlighted by NEERI has not been adverted to at all in the environmental clearance given by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF) on 31March, 2005. Thus the MOEF has thrown overboard Article 8 (h) of the UN Convention referred to above. No steps have been prescribed to cater to this inevitable eventuality and its impact on the local marine population. The argument that some water from the Bay of Bengal enters Palk Bay and has always flown over the Ram Setu even before the Project is no answer because the mid-ocean channel envisaged under the Project would be 12 metres deep and 300 metres wide. Such a deep, wide channel will permit a much greater range of sea-going species to pass through into the Gulf of Mannar, which until now has offered a relatively sheltered habitat for numerous endangered species. Such uncontrolled migration will certainly lead to the extinction of numerous species.          In its Environmental Impact Study (EIS) NEERI itself had predicated, without any valid or relevant or established scientific basis, on the absence of cyclones and other severe weather conditions on the Bay of Bengal. This was a strange, wrong, unfounded and untenable assumption. The known and established fact is we have had numerous cyclones in the SSCP region at periodical intervals during the last 200 years. In view of this, the NEERI’s study itself was fundamentally flawed. No environmental clearance could have been or should have been granted based on NEERI’s study if this total absence of cyclones in the region was the underlying assumption of the whole exercise.          Further the NEERI in its EIA Study Report had specifically stated that ‘dredging may also require blasting if hard strata are encountered and in the event of such blasting, adverse impact on sea bottom fauna is envisaged’. This crucial aspect, emphasized by NEERI above, found no mention at all in the environmental clearance given by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF) dated 31.03.2005.          Since the environmental clearance given by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF) on 31 March, 2005 does not advert to the possibility of blasting at all, it does not prescribe any safeguards or conditions in this respect. Taking note of all these factors, Dandi Swami Sri Vidyananda Bharati in his Demand Notice Petition has come to the right conclusion: ‘In the respectful submission of the petitioners, a reading of the environmental clearance shows that it does not prescribe specific, concrete and tangible measures/safeguards regarding environmental and ecological protection, but merely pays lip service, as it were, by setting out vague and generalized conditions, such as the following:          ‘Strict monitoring should be undertaken at four hourly interval round the clock to monitor the movement of sediments of dredged material in the dredging area and daily on the coast and other sensitive areas of Gulf of Mannar Biosphere/National Marine Park’.          ‘Effective monitoring of aquatic ecosystem may be done to ensure that no damage is done to the turtles, dugongs, flora and other endangered species’.          ‘Such vague and general conditions, which are basically unenforceable, are not what is expected of a body such as the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF) which is charged with protecting the environment under the Environment Protection Act.’       T R Baalu as Union Shipping and Transport Minister, like the Indian monsoon, has shown all the vagaries of an oriental potentate in dealing with the different aspects / stages / phases of the Setusamudram Shipping Canal Project (SSCP), ‘commercially viable’ (from his private point of view!!) and disastrous for the nation as a whole in every sense of the term. This has been eloquently brought out by Dandi Swami Sri Vidyananda Bharati in his Demand Notice Petition has stated that ‘the EIA study conducted by the NEERI also does not comply with the requirements of the EIA Manual, which represents the policy of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests’. The EIA study conducted by NEERI does not conform to the prescribed requirements of the EIA Manual with regard, inter alias, to the following respects:         A) The option of how the environment would fare if there were no ‘SSCP’ ‘Project’ was mandatorily required to be considered under the EIA Manual as a fundamental analytical tool and premise for determining whether the environmental clearance should be granted to the ‘Project’. This aspect was not considered at all by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF) while giving its hasty ‘Political Clearance’ under severe DMK pressure, conveniently resorting to the subterfuge of the so called ‘handle’ of according environmental clearance to the SSCP on 31-03-2005.         B) While according its political environmental clearance on 31-03-2005, no assessment was made by the MOEF of the impact of the ‘Project’ on significant historical, cultural and archeological sites/places in the area, which is mandated under the EIA Manual. A reading of the EIA Study Report does not disclose any study having been conducted by the NEERI in this behalf, with the aid and assistance of experts in the relevant fields.         There is considerable evidence to show that the Ram Setu is man- made. A Report of the Department of Earth Sciences states as follows:         ‘During the glacial Maxima, the sea level was about 130 m lower than what is today. This is evidenced both on the east and west coast of India, where submerged Corals occur around 1 to 2m water depths and they are clear indicators of near coastal zone However, during the last ice age (18,000 year BP) the entire area from India to Sri Lanka and further south and southeast were contagious land due to the highly lowered sea level. As and when there were major melting of glaciers both from the mountains as well as from the Antarctic area, the sea level was rising. These features were well recorded and studied by several submerged Coral formations all over the world. About 7,300 years BP the sea level in the southern part of India was about 3.5 m above the present level. This has been deciphered by Dr P K Banerjee, who studied Corals that were found in the land part of Pamban, Rameswaram, and Tuticorin etc. Subsequently the sea level went down and rose +2m above than what is today between 5000 to 4000 years B.P. In almost of all the boreholes between 4.5 and 7.5m the borehole intersected hard formations, which have been found to be calcareous sand stones and corals. It is to be pointed out here that Corals are comparatively less dense, compact and somewhat easy to carry. The Corals normally grow atop compact to hard formations for the purpose of stability, and as the sea level rises, the Coral colony grows up vertically to maintain water depth of 1 to 2 m, which is essential for their survival. It is always observed that these Corals have continuous vertical growth like Lakshadweep, Andaman’s, and Gulf Of Mannar Natural Park. These have always been found to grow on hard rock bottom. IN THE CASE OF ADAMS BRIDGE AREA WE OBSERVE THAT THE CORAL FORMATIONS HARDLY OCCUR 1 TO 2.5M IN LENGTH AND RESTING ON LOOSE MARINE SANDS. MOST OF THESE CORAL ROCK PIECES ARE SEEM TO BE ROUNDED PEBBLES OF CORALS. THESE THINGS APPEAR TO POINT THESE CORAL ROCK PIECES AND PEBBLES HAVE BEEN TRANSPORTED AND PLACED IN THESE AREAS.’ Source: Dept. of Earth Sciences, Govt of India (March 2007).         Another brilliant Earth Scientist has also clearly brought out the fact that the Ram Setu is a man-made bridge. In a brilliant essay titled ‘Geological and Geophysical Perspective’, Dr S Badri Narayanan, formerly Joint Director of the Geological Survey of India has concluded on the geological surface in the Ram Setu area (Adam’s Bridge area) as follows: ‘It is a well known fact that the Coral reefs can only form in clean and unpolluted water and these being marine organisms require firm and compact formation as foundation. The presence of loose marine sand below these clearly indicates that these are not natural and are transported from elsewhere. Unless somebody has transported and dumped them, these could have not come there. Some of the boulders are so light that they could float on water. Apparently whoever has done it has identified it as light and strong boulders to make it easy for transportation. Since the boulders are strong, they can withstand lot of weight…The Adam’s Bridge is a wonderful divide separating the turbulent Bay of Bengal in the North and the calm and tranquil waters of the Gulf of Mannar to the South. Due to the tranquil condition, very rare species of Corals and other organisms grew in the Gulf of Mannar, whereas such species are completely absent in the Bay of Bengal side. The turbulent tide and the associated sediments caused by the severe cyclone that occur every year in the Bay of Bengal are prevented by the ridge of the Ram Setu or Adam’s Bridge and thereby protect the delicate conditions in the Gulf of Mannar’.         Thus Dr Badrinarayanan has categorically warned that the dredging and opening of the Ram Setu Bridge (Adam’s Bridge) may cause the sediments and turbulent tide from the Bay of Bengal to enter the tranquil Gulf of Mannar and choke and destroy the delicate Coral island. In short, he has clearly stated that the SSCP should not cut across the Ram Setu Bridge.         T R Baalu and Chairman Tuticorin Port Trust have callously disregarded the sound technical advice given by the Department of Earth Sciences, Government of India and Dr. Badrinarayanan. For global Dravidian leaders like T R Baalu, the ‘rational’ ‘KEEMAYANA’ condensed in the inspiring words of Periyar in Tamil with Non-Aryan fervour as given below are more relevant than any superstitious scientific and technical advice given by the Anti-South and Anti-Tamil Departments of the Government of India:         I am giving a translation of the above words of wisdom of Periyar’s Keemayana. ‘If there is a fire noticed in a lake, and if any fool wants to put out that fire by giving his advice to the effect that the best way to put out that fire is by spraying water upon it, drawn from a small well near by��such is the inappropriate message of foolish falsehood in the Valmiki Ramayana’.Periyar         Dandi Swami Sri Vidyananda Bharati has not allowed himself to be seduced or misled by the underlying bestial spirit or spirit (less ness!!) of kinetic ‘Keemayana’. In his Demand Notice Petition he has clearly brought out the fact through rigorous scientific analysis that Ram Setu clearly was built countless centuries ago and not within the last 100 years and since it is man-made, it is entitled to be designated as an ‘Ancient Monument’ under Section 2(a) read with Section 4 of the or as an ‘Archaeological Site’ under Section 2(d) read with Section 4 of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958.         Further, it is also relevant to point out that the Gulf of Mannar region is known to be, essentially, a sedimentation sink; and there is ample evidence pointing to the fact that the tsunami has altered the bathymetry of the region. The sea bed has risen in height in most places, on account of deposit of silt etc. carried by the tsunami and deposited in these areas. None of these factors have ever been taken into account by any of the expert bodies/authorities who played a key role in giving their final clearance for the Setusamudram Shipping Canal Project (SSCP).         The NEERI study was defective and lopsided because it made no attempt to make it a comprehensive inter-disciplinary study by enlisting the services of specialists from earth sciences such as geo-morphologists, sedimentologists, mineralogists, oceanographers, climatologists, etc., whose presence was a vital pre-condition for doing a proper analysis.         Finally no self respecting Hindu can miss the fact that Dandi Swami Sri Vidyananda Bharati’s Demand Notice Petition is marked by The Art of Power, The Art of Wisdom, The Power of Thought, The Power of the Heart, The Power of a Dream, The Power of People, The Power of the Spirit and The Power of the Infinite. His heroic message to all the Hindus of India and the world today is this ‘All that I have seen teaches me to trust the CREATOR for all I have not seen. Believing is a daring adventure into the unseen; it is a radiant faith in the unexplored, the undiscovered, the miracles of the future. There is magic in the art of believing!! Believe in the limitless flow of God’s goodness and grace. The Universe is filled with more wonders than you can ever imagine. Unite and fight for your religious rights!! You have nothing to lose but your chains!! You are divinely appointed guardians of all the powers man has evolved since time began. It is your duty to use these powers for the continued growth and development of all the Hindus as a race and to pass them on renewed and enlarged to those who will follow you’.


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