Sethu Samudram comes to Parliament (Srilankanewspapers)
Saturday, 11 August 2007 – 5:54 AM SL Time
The Sethu Samdurdam project became a point of discussion in Parliament yesterday with the main opposition UNP charging that the government was keeping silent as India had already started dredging the Palk Strait while the government assured that frequent discussions were taking place between the two countries on the project.
Minister Rauff Hakeem said the initial study done on the project had over looked salient features that should have been looked into.
Foreign Affairs Minister Rohitha Bogollagama responded saying the environment impact on the project was currently being assessed by the government and the study had included factors on marine life in the Palk Strait.
However UNP MP Lakshman Kiriella who intervened said India had already started digging the Palk Straits and the government had remained silent. `Don`t mislead the House,` he told Mr. Bogolllagama. The Minister who replied said India is only dredging the waters in their territory. At this point Minister Hakeem said India was Sri Lanka`s biggest neighbour and the issue should be discussed in a diplomatic manner.
Sea Tigers blast Indian tug deployed for Sethu project
Sunday, 25 February 2007 – 5:56 AM SL Time
The LTTE blasted an Indian tug deployed south of Point Calimere in June last year, well informed sources said. The ill-fated vessel is believed to have been deployed alongside a dredger assigned for controversial Sethusamudram project. The LTTE had used a limpet mine, believed to be about 40 kgs in weight to blast the tug.
The Sunday Island came across information regarding the hitherto unreported attack Friday in the backdrop of Indian claims that 15 LTTE boats on suicide missions are operating in the waters between India and Sri Lanka, an assertion rejected by Sri Lanka.
The Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project envisages linking the Palk Bay and the Gulf of Mannar between India and Sri Lanka by creating a shipping canal through the shallow sea called Setu Samudram, and through the island chain of Rama`s Bridge. This would provide a continuous navigable sea route around the Indian Peninsula. The project involves digging a 44.9 nautical mile (83 km) long deepwater channel linking the shallow water of the Palk Strait with the Gulf of Mannar.
Well informed sources said that the LTTE blasted the tug less than a week before a squad of LTTE frogmen made an abortive bid to raid the Colombo harbour. The limpet mine used against the Indian tug is believed to be of the same type the LTTE planned to use against SLN or merchant vessels during the raid which went awry due to rough seas.
Immediately after the blast had hit the tug, the dredger had come alongside the stricken vessel to rescue its crew. The sources said that the unprecedented attack believed to have been carried out on the behest of an interested party was aimed at delaying the Sethu project by impeding the process of dredging.
The sources claimed that the Indian government was aware of the developing scenario. Referring to a recent editorial in The Hindu, the sources said that the LTTE was capitalising on the political situation in Tamil Nadu to its advantage. Pointing out the danger in allowing the LTTE to set up base in Tamil Nadu, The Hindu recently said, `?a deeply worrying mix of political collusion, official complacency, mercenary considerations and corruption has enabled the LTTE to exploit Tamil Nadu both as a source of supply and a base of operations.`
The sources said that last year`s attack on the tug took place about 20 nautical miles away from the location the Indian Coast Guard seized an LTTE vessel on February 13 this year.
The mystery over India`s decision to blow up the vessel seized 27 nautical miles South West of Point Calimere has taken a new turn with the online edition of India`s national newspaper The Hindu claiming that the explosives-laden boat was on a suicide mission and the suspected target was Kankesanthurai port in the Jaffna peninsula.`
The Indian Coast Guard seized the boat along with five crew members-three Sri Lankans and two Indians aboard. The Hindu, quoted `well informed` sources as saying that the suspects, included a Black Tiger operative and a Sea Tiger operative.
Sri Lankan sources said that India initially acknowledged that the vessel was on its way to Tamil Nadu and that a suicide belt recovered from the craft was to be used to attack a major Temple festival. Coast Guard Regional Commander Rajendra Singh publicly declared that the Coast Guard succeeded in thwarting a terrorist attack on a big temple celebration. But subsequently the Indian officialdom changed its position and in a bid to cover-up claimed that 15 LTTE boats on suicide missions are operating in the waters between India and Sri Lanka.
India`s Sethu Canal Project – have the Gods struck?
Monday, 12 February 2007 – 5:07 AM SL Time
Swami Omkararananda head of Chidbavananda Ashram of Vedapuri filed suit in court claiming that the Adam`s Bridge should be preserved as a monument of archeological and religious value.
The bridge has been built by Lord Rama to reach Sri Lanka with his simian to fight Ravana and retrieve his wife Seetha.
As such the bridge is revered by Hindu`s all over the world according to the Swami.
The court accordingly had issued notice to the Central Government, Sethu Samudram Project committees and the Archeological Surveys of India. The US space agency NASA had recently come up with some satellite images which confirm the existence of the bridge under the sea.
The opponents have emphasized that the canal project was undertaken without even doing an archeological survey.
Just as the Central Government ignored completely all opposition to the project, the Minister of Shipping inaugurated the dredging of the Adams Bridge on December 11th by firing three gun shots in the air! By this action he not only ignored the opposition from a religious leader but also wounded the religious susceptibilities of several billions of Hindus. This may be worse than the attack on the Golden Temple of the Sikhs on the orders of Indira Ghandhi.
Strangely if not mysteriously it is now reported that both the multi million dollar dredger which was sent to dredge the Adams Bridge as well as a 150 ton floating crane which was sent to pull the dredger have broken down.
First the 107 ton driller of the dredger broke while trying to cut the Rama Sethu or Adams Bridge.
The Rama Sethu it seems is too strong for the cutter, sucker, and dredger. Hence, its spud or the driller broke while drilling the bridge causing a major set back for the project.
According to the engineers who had inspected it is a vertical structure and would be impossible to repair unlike a horizontal fracture.
The repairs by the manufacturer would cost over Rs. 2.5 crores.
That is if the Holland based equipment manufacturer agrees to repair.
In this context it is relevant that the Holland Government refused to provide credit to a dredging company which wanted to make a bid for the drilling work of the canal on the grounds that the canal project would result in irreparable damages to the environment.
An official has said that so far not even a spoon of silt was dredged due to the accident! A giant floating crane that was sent to pull the dredger and retrieve the spud has also broken down and a part of the crane had sunk in the sea. Apparently Minister`s three shots in the air have failed to drive the devil.
In a rare twist attributed to the Gods` intervention, the officials are now thinking of bringing another giant crane appropriately named Hanuman to pull the dredger. It has a 200 ton capacity.
While these incidents or accidents may support the Swami`s claim in the courts, one wonders whether an addendum is being written to the epic poem Maha Baratha!