Rama Setu: protection to sustain thorium wealth of the nation
Thorium/titanium placer deposits due to churning action of ocean currents, with Rama Setu acting like a sieve or cyclotron. The ocean currents map shows the unique nature of clockwise and anti-clockwise currents near Rama Setu area.
Thorium deposits in Kerala (Aluva, Chavara), Tamilnadu (Manavalakurichi) that support nuclear power source for India will be desiccated if Rama Setu is damaged. If another tsunami strikes, the placer deposits will be submerged in the ocean, making the retrieval of the mineral an expensive proposition and also take the reserves into international waters.
According to Dr. Tad Murty, the world-renowned expert on tsunami (engaged by Govt. of India to review tsunami warning system), the Setu channel as presently aligned will lead to destruction of Kerala by next tsunami. This is due to a principle called quarter-wave resonance amplification, a phenomenon which occurred in the 1964 tsunami which struck Alberni canal from Alaska and devastated the Alberni port. At this canal, the tsunami attained its highest amplitude with high waves.
The channel will act like funnel absorbing the energy of the next tsunami. Hence, tsunami protection measures are also needed like the walls built by Japan as tsunami-protection walls. Such structures can be constructed only if Setu project is realigned as a land-based canal like Suez or Panama canals.
Importance of Thorium for Bharat
• From BARC website: Thorium deposits of Bharatam- ~ 3,60,000 tonnes
• The currently known Indian thorium reserves amount to 358,000 GWe-yr of electrical energy and can easily meet the energy requirements during the next century and beyond. (Thorium reserves can generate 400,000 MW electricity per year for the next 389 years). At present, we produce only 100,000 MW electricity per year.
• India’s vast thorium deposits permit design and operation of U-233 fuelled breeder reactors.
• These U-233/Th-232 based breeder reactors are under development and would serve as the mainstay of the final thorium utilization stage of the Indian nuclear programme.
In the latest report published on August 2, 2007, Dr Baldev Raj, an internationally acclaimed metallurgist, said that the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre at Trombay near Mumbai has been doing research into Thorium based reactors for the last 50 years. “As of today, no other country in the world is doing any research on thorium based reactors as they do not have adequate thorium reserves,” Dr Raj added. Bharatam is the only country which has the technological expertise and resources to create and run a thorium-based reactor. “We have the design and the technology to install a 300 MW thorium based reactor. It is going through the process of regulatory clearance. We will start work on it in the eleventh plan period. And we hope to complete the work within seven years,” Dr Baldev Raj , director, Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR), Kalpakkam said on Thursday, August 2, 2007. http://tinyurl.com/24fpqu
This breakthrough in atomic research adds to the importance of conserving and protecting thorium reserves of the nation, as national treasure to be sustained for present and future generations. The Setu channel project should be immediately reviewed with particular reference to this aspect of accumulation and controlled extraction of thorium reserves for the nation’s atomic energy programme.
Manavalankurichi in Tamilnadu, Aluva and Chavara in Kerala and Chatrapur in Orissa possess the world’s largest reserves of thorium (monazite and ilmenite minerals which also yield another high-value metal, titanium). These must be declared as strategic mineral reserves and subject to rigorous safeguarding by Govt. of India as a top-priority security imperative.
The amendments made to the Mines Act in 2000 which permitted private mining licenses, should be reviewed and revised immediately to exclude these strategic minerals from privatised mining operations in view of their importance for the nation’s strategic nuclear programme.
3 August 2007