This is mere politicking. The key fact is not mentioned in such motivated, one-sided reports, trying to protect the pseudo-secular entities in UPA.
A disastrous event occurred on Dec. 26, 2004, the tsunami which killed 260,000 people. This event should have triggered a total overhaul and review of the entire project. This was, in fact, suggested by PMO in PM’s letter of January 2005. Excepting for a public-hearing held in February 2005 (which hearing was bogus because the local people were still recovering from the devastation caused by tsunami), no review of the impact of the tsunami was done by NEERI or any other agency. This should have been handed to Geological Survey of India for review. PMO has failed in ensuring this review since the issue concerned the integrity of the nation’s coastline and coastline people livelihood. With extraordinary alacrity, the project got inaugurated on 2 July 2005 after US Navy operational directive was issued on 23 June 2005 that the Gulf of Mannar waters were international waters and hence, the proposed channel-passage would in effect create an international waters boundary where no such boundary ever existed.
This is serious dereliction of State responsibility to safeguard the nation. Talking about NDA or UPA role in alignment is only a red herring intended to diver attention from this negligence and dereliction of state responsibility. Surely, UPA governance has a lot to answer. How about constituting an enquiry commission to get to the truth of choosing a channel-passage in mid-ocean (an unprecedented disaster exposing the nation to risk) instead of a land-based canal? What happened after Dec. 26, 2004 should be the subject of such an enquiry.
Another aspect to be covered by the enquiry should be: why were no tsunami-protection measures incorporated in the channel project? This is a serious lapse and someone has to answer in GOI.
Congress strategy: Setu route cleared by NDA regime
23 Sep 2007, 0041 hrs IST,Subodh Ghildiyal,TNN
NEW DELHI: As the saffronites seek to polarise Hindus by targeting Congress-led Centre for destroying the bridge constructed by Lord Ram’s army, UPA government may soon seek to turn the tables on BJP with a counter-charge that it was the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led government which cleared the contentious Ram Setu route.
Sources in the government claimed that the Manmohan Singh dispensation had only completed the formality of clearing the ‘present alignment’ after getting of the techo-economic feasibility (TEF) report for the Sethusamudram project. The ‘alignment’ entailed cutting through Adam’s Bridge, and the TEF study was commissioned after an in-principle nod in January 2003 when NDA was in power, sources asserted.
The five routes suggested earlier were rejected out of concerns ranging from environment hazard to threat to marine ecology. Sources said the ‘alignment’ which the BJP was now plumping for was rejected in 1999 by its own environment minister Suresh Prabhu for environmental implications for marine life and bio-sphere reserve. The assertion was also made by shipping minister T R Baalu in Chennai on Saturday.
A senior UPA minister said the fifth route was rejected on October 23, 2002, because it required blasting in the sea and was said to be an environmental hazard, leading the NDA government to settle on the route cutting through Ram Setu. The present route, being contested by BJP now, was given the green signal by a clutch of ministries looking into the project in 2003. The project report submitted to the government stated, “The proposed route would originate from the Gulf of Mannar and extend towards east and further north-east of Pamban island and cut through the Adam’s Bridge.”
The document with the government in January 2003 clearly mentioned “cutting through Adam’s Bridge”, sources said. Sources said the the only question which remained to be settled was the depth to be dredged, with a choice between seven and nine metres.
According to norms of environment impact assessment, public hearings were held at 14 places and BJP and AIADMK, which are now opposing the destruction of the Setu, raised no questions on the alignment. The UPA government gave the final nod to the project carried over from NDA regime after the Techno-Economic Feasibility report was submitted by Port Trust, Tuticorin.
While a formal disclosure could take the sting out of the BJP campaign to rally Hindus over the Setu issue, there is reluctance in certain Congress quarters overshowing any belligerence on the contentious issue.