(Open letter to the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India on impact on national security by alleged exports of beach sands and proposed damage to Rama Setu)
9 September 2007
Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh ji,
Govt. of India, New Delhi
Sub: Serious breach of strategic national security; alleged exports of nuclear resources from southern coast of India near Rama Setu; impending threat of tsunami
I am bringing to your notice a serious breach of strategic national security created by the alleged exports of nuclear resources from southern coast of India near Rama Setu by some private parties, in violation of provisions in the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act 1957 and Atomic Energy Act 1962. The annex provides the details of the complaint lodged by Deputy Director, Geology and Mining, Nagercoil, Kanniyakumari District, Tamilnadu.
There are also reports of loss of stockpiles from the Indian Rare Earths Limited offices.
Geology and Minerals Map of Tamilnadu and Pondicherry and District Minerals Map of Kanniyakumari prepared by Geological Survey of India (1995) point to the importance of the coastal sands between Rama Setu and Kochi. The explanatory note in the Resources Map of Kanniyakumari district states: “Heavy mineral concentrations (including ilmenite, rutile, garnet and monazite) occur in beach sands as localised pockets along the east coast and between Kolachel and Kanniyakumari on the west coast over a distance of nearly 75 km. Significant concentration occurs between Vattakottai and Lipuram and the famous Manavalakurichi deposit, which extends over a length of 5 to 6 km. with a width of 3 to 5 m. from the mouth of Valliyur river. The beach placers on an average contain 45 to 55% ilmenite, 7 to 14 % garnet, 4 to 5 % zicon, 3 to 4% monazite, 2 to 3% sillimanite, 2 to 3% rutile, 0.5 to 1% leucoxene and 10 to 25% of others, including silica.”
Strategic minerals yielded by these deposits are: thorium (nuclear material) and titanium (space-age metal)
Another report has appeared on 6 September 2007 and headlined in major newspapers all over the world that there is an imminent of threat of a tsunami more devastating than the tsunami of 26 Dec. 2004. This report appeared in the prestigious scientific journal, Nature. The report states that about 60 to 70 million people of the east coast of India in the Bay of Bengal will be at risk. In view of the seriousness of this scientific report, I request you to immediately suspend all project works along the coastline which should be resumed only after a detailed, multi-disciplinary investigation of this threat to national security and integrity of the nation.
Considering the fact that Rama Setu has been instrumental in acting as a cyclotron on the clockwise and counter-clockwise ocean currents unique to the region, and in accumulating the placer deposits of the rare earths along the southern coastline, Rama Setu should be preserved and protected as a national monument. In fact, just four villages: Manavalakurichi in Tamilnadu and Aluva, Chavara in Kerala and Chatrapur in Orissa account for 32% of the world’s deposits of monazite sands containing thorium. These placer sands also contain the heaviest concentration of upto 4% of thorium unprecendented in any heavy minerals areas anywhere in the world.
In view of this situation, the work on Setusamudram Channel Project should be suspended immediately and a multi-disciplinary review ordered on the impact of another tsunami on the proposed channel and the coastline and on the impact on the accumulation, and security of thorium reserves of the nation in this coastal zone.
All private mining leases in this coastal zone containing ilmenite, monazite, rutile, garnet and zircon deposit should be suspended.
The FIR mentioned in the Annex brings out serious concerns related to strategic national security. The entire zone is out of bounds even to the police forces of Tamilnadu state and the Centre. It is imperative that this zone be declared as a Strategic Security Zone and brought under the control of the Defence forces of the nation to safeguard and conserve the thorium reserves so vital for the nation’s strategic nuclear program to ensure energy independence.
According to the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) website and records, the estimated reserves of thorium in India are 3,60,000 tonnes and represent the energy equivalent of generation of electricity at the rate of 400,000 MW for 387 years and use in thorium-based breeder reactors. Recent report from BARC also indicates that the nation’s nuclear scientists are ready with a thorium-based reactor to generate electricity which can be made operational in the next 7 years, according to the statement of Dr. Baldev Raj of Atomic Energy Commission.
Thorium-based energy generation can be a significant contribution to achieving energy independence without depending upon imports of uranium from Nuclear Suppliers Groups, under terms humiliating to national sovereignty. Thorium 232 bombarded by a neutron yields U-233 and can be used in the three-stage nuclear programme chalked out by our atomic scientific community.
I request you to consider this as a serious issue impacting on national security and immediately (1) consider the impending tsunami threat; and (2) stop project activity in the Rama Setu area; and (3) suspend mineral licences to private parties in the strategic security zone of the coast line in Tamilnadu and Kerala containing strategic mineral placer sands. The constitution of a Mines and Strategic Minerals Regulatory Authority should be considered immediately to safeguard, conserve and develop the strategic minerals for the nation’s strategic security requirements, particularly of the atomic energy and space programmes which will be dependent upon indigenously available thorium and titanium resources.
Thanking you for your consideration and looking forward to meeting you to explain in person the national security imperative,
Director, Sarasvati Research Centre,
Former Sr. Exec., Asian Development Bank,
Chennai 600015 firstname.lastname@example.org
Extract from the 19-page FIR which was considered by the Madras Bench of Madras High Court on 10 August 2007 and 28 August 2007
FIR under CrPC was lodged by the Tamilnadu police with Judicial Magistrate of Nagercoil, Tamilnadu and was considered by the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court on 10 August 2007.
The following is an extract from the 19-page FIR in Tamil and English:
“Submitted today on 8.7.07 at 11.00 received the complaint in SC No. 64/O&M/2007 dt. 7.7.2007 and registered a case in DCM Crime No. 25/2007 u/s 14(i)(1) and 25 of Atomic Energy Act 19621. The petition is as follows from Thiru K.A. Manimaran, M.Sc., Deputy Director, Geology and Mining, Nagercoil. To the Superintendent of Police, Kanniyakumary District, Nagercoil. R.C.No. 84/O&M/2007 dated 7.7.2007. Sir, Sub: Mines and Minerals. Kanniyakumari District – Agasteeswaram Taluk, Kanniyakumari Village — Offrence under 25 read with sections 14 & 7(G) of Atomic Energy Act 1962. Complaint made under section 26 (1) of Atomic Energy Act 1962 – action requested regarding. I am working as Deputy Director of Geology and Mining, Kanniyakumari District at Nagercoil and I am competent person who can exercise power of entry and inspection as per the provisions contained in the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act 1957 and Mineral concession Rules 1960. So, I am the competent officer as required in the section 26 (1)(G) of the Atomic Energy Act 1962. On 10.4.2007 the Revenue Divisional Officer, Nagercoil has intercepted the following vehicles laden with sand near CSI Church situation in the Head leading to Rasthakar to Mettukudiyiruppu. Sl. No. Registration No. of the Vehicle Type of Vehicle Name of the Driver of the Vehicle. 1. TN 72 R 5146 Tempo. – J. Jeenia 2) TN 77 C 1780 – Tempo Lorry – R. Balan 3) TN 69 C 5666 – Tipper Lorry – G. Nadesan (4) TN 72 R 5146 Tempo – N. Railingam (5) TN 72 r 5659 Tempo – N. Ravikumar, (6) TN 72 R 5665 – Tempo – E. Mariappan. The Revenue Divisional Officer, Nagercoil has conducted detailed enquiry with the drivers of the above vehicles and the drivers have given statement that they have extracted and transported the sand containing the rare earth from Arockiapuram Sankantheri area where there is a plant owned by VV Minerals and transporting it to the company of VV Minerals in Kanagappapuram Tvl. VV. Minerals company has no mining rights/lease for mining raw sand containing rare earths. So, it comes within the purview of illicit mining and attracts penal provisions as per the Acts and Rules in force. During the seizure they were having the despatch slips pertaining to Tirunelveli District. The Revenue Divisional Officer obtained written statement from them and he seized all the six vehicles and brought them to Revenue Divisional Officer’s Campus along with the raw sand with rare earth. Since it is a major mineral he made a report to the Collector Kanniyakumari District dated 11.4.2007 with a request to take action in this regard. In this connection, the then in-charge Deputy Director, Geology and Mining, Nagercoil has filed a Criminal case in the Court of the Judicial Magistrate No. I of Nagercoil vide case No. CC 77/2007 and the case is still pending before the Hon’ble Court. Meanwhile, one sample was collected from the seized vehicles and sent to the Research Centre of Indian Rare Earths Ltd., Kollam, Kerala State for chemical and mineralogical analysis on 14.6.2007. The analysis report dated 16.6.2007 from the Research Centre has been received by the Collector. Copy of the analysis report is enclosed for reference. The Analysis Report states that the sample taken from the seized vehicles contain Monazite 2.7% by weight and Thorium (ThO2) 0.87% compositions. The VV Mineral Company has no mining lease in the area from where the Raw and containing the Rare Earths has been extracted and transported. Also handling of Monazite – the mother material for the extraction of Thorium which is a Radioactive mineral is an offence punishable under Atomic Energy Act 1962. As the per the Atomic Energy Act 1962 section 2(G) the Monazite found in the seized mineral is a “prescribed substance” because it can be used to extract Thorium. As per the analysis report 0.87% composition of Thorium is available. As per the section 14 of the said Act this is an offence under Section 14 (1). The Central Government has prohibited the working of any Mine or Minerals which can be used for the extraction of any “prescribed substances.” Section 14 of the said Act also prohibits the acquisition, production, possession, use, disposal, export or import of any “prescribed substance” of any mineral or other substance specified in the rule which in the opinion of the Central Government any of the “prescribed substance” can be obtained. This is an offence committed by a Company as per the records and statements of the Drivers of the seized vehicles and as per the section 25 of the said Act. In view of the above, I request to take the cognisance of the offence made against the following: (1) Tvl. VV Minerals Company, Keeraikaranthattu, Tisavanvilai P.O. Radhapuram Taluk, Tirunelveli District. (2) Thiru S. Vaikundarajan Age 52, s/o Subbiah Nadar, Keeraikaranthattu, Tisayanvilai East Radhapuram Taluk, Tirunelveli District (3) J. Jennis, s/o Josech Pulliyiranki, Perumaruthikalavilai, Vilavancede Taluk, Kanniyakumar District (4) S. Balan s/o Perumal Sevakankulam, Singaneri Post, Nanguneri Taluk, Tirunelveli District. (5) G. Nadesan, s/o Ganapathy, Kanimadam, Azhagappapuram village, Agasteeswaram Taluk, Kanniyakumari District (6) N. Rajalingam s/o Nadarajan, Hindu Hr. Sec. School Street, Kanuankulam, Levinilpuram village, Radhapuram Taluk, Tirunelveli District, (7) N. Ravikumar s/o Nambi, VK Nager, Padmaneri, Kalakkadu, Tirunelveli District, (8) I. Mariyamman, s/o Isakki, Kovilmathu village, Kalakadu, Nanguneri Taluk, Tirunelveli District, (9) Saji Joseph s/o Mohandass (Mining Geologist, VV Minerals Company) Singalar Street, Marthandam, Kanniyakumari District, and the persons related with the VV Minerals Company. I request you to take action as per the Atomic Energy Act 1962. Yours faithfully, Sd.- KA Manimaran 7.7.07 ADSP Crime Register a case in DCM and investigate s/d SP xx 8.7.07. Sir Registered a case in DCM Nagercoil Cr. No. 25/07 u/s 14(1)(i) and 25 of Atomic Energy AQct 1967 on 9.7.07 at 11.00 hrs. s/d N. Ayyappan, S.I/DCM/NGl. The original FIR along with complaint is sent to J.M.I Nagercoil copies to the concerned officers and a copy submitted to ADSP/Crime for investigation.
11. Action taken. Since the above report reveals commission of offence(s) u/s as mentioned at item No. 2 registerred the case and took up the investigation ADSP Crime Tr. Muthusamy to take up the investigation/Refused investigation/transferred to R.S…on point of jurisdiction.
FIR read over to the Complainant/informant. admitted to be correctly recorded and a copy given to the Complainant/informant free of cost.
14. Signature/Thumb impression of the complainant/informant
15. Date and time of despatch to the court 9.7.07
Signature of the Officer-in-charge, Police station; Name: N. Ayyappan, Rank: SI of Police, DCM Nagercoil. (true copy)
The FIR in 19 pages also contains serious reports of intimidation and threats to those who approached the mines area or the vehicles carrying the ‘prescribed substances’.