Exposing the Sethu project conspiracy
Nuclear club wants to thwart India’s thorium advantage
By Dr S. Kalyanaraman
When five alternative alignments are available to create a land-based canal, why has a mid-ocean channel passage been chosen as the Sethusamudram Channel Project? There is an international conspiracy behind this choice and an utter disdain of governance, a veritable failure to safeguard nation’s wealth of placer deposits containing thorium and titanium.
There is another geopolitical perspective. That relates to the existence of 32 per cent of the world’s reserves of thorium in just three villages, south of Ram Sethu (see Table I). If these thorium reserves get desiccated and go into the ocean through a future tsunami funnelled through the channel passage, India will have to continue to depend upon purchased uranium from NSG countries. The accumulation of thorium placer deposits is emphatically due to the existence of Ram Sethu acting as a cyclotron against the clock-wise and counter-clock-wise ocean currents depositing Th-232 on the coastline lands. Thorium is also found in ilmenite sands. Th-232 + a neutron yields U-233 and India is ready with a reactor to produce electricity directly using a thorium-based breeder reactor. Maybe, this causes jealousy among some of the countries of the nuclear club.
There is an ongoing loot of placer deposits containing strategic minerals along the Ram Sethu coast.
A serious breach of strategic national security was created by the alleged exports of nuclear resources from southern coast of India near Ram Sethu by some private parties, in violation of provisions in the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act 1957 and Atomic Energy Act 1962. A judicial complaint was lodged by Deputy Director, Geology and Mining, Nagercoil, Kanyakumari District, Tamil Nadu. Thorium and titanium (strategic atomic and space-age metals) are found in these placer sands called ilmenite, rutile, garnet, zircon, monazite. Thorium-containing coastal sands south of Ram Sethu represent 32 per cent of the known reserves of the world. These placer sands also contain the heaviest concentration of up to two per cent of thorium unprecendented in any heavy mineral areas anywhere in the world.
There are also reports of loss of stockpiles from the Indian Rare Earths Limited offices.
Another report has appeared on September 6, 2007, and headlined in major newspapers all over the world that there is an imminent threat of a tsunami more devastating than the tsunami of December 26, 2004. This report appeared in the prestigious scientific journal, Nature. The report states that about 60 to 70 million people on the east coast of India in the Bay of Bengal will be at a risk. In view of the seriousness of this scientific report, the government should 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.
In view of this situation, the work on Sethusamudram 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 deposits should be suspended.
The entire zone is out of bounds even to the police forces of Tamil Nadu state and the Centre. It is imperative that this zone should be declared 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 programme 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 to 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 seven years, according to the statement of Dr. Baldev Raj of Atomic Energy Commission.
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.
The US ploy
This choice will internationalise the waters of the Gulf of Mannar and create an international boundary between India and Sri Lanka, where such a boundary never existed. According to the June 1974 Indira Gandhi – Sirimavo Bandaranaike declaration, these waters were declared “historic waters”, meaning, waters territorially shared between the two countries and hence, internal to these two countries. US Navy operational directive of June 23, 2005, sought to change this declaration. The directive refused to declare these as ‘historic waters’ and to operationalise their assertion, sent their naval warships into these waters. This is a serious violation of national sovereignty, which has gone unnoticed so far.
Why is America interested in these waters and why the desire to create an international waters channel? Clearly, the choice is to suit the convenience of the US Navy which wants to outsource to India, the coast-guarding of the sealane oil tanker traffic from the Straits of Hormuz through Sri Lanka, through the Straits of Malacca to the west coast of USA. The geopolitical perspective becomes apparent from the location of the US base in Diego Garcia, south of Sri Lanka, of a very low frequency radio station (which uses ocean waves for transmission) at Trincomalee to listen to the submarine chatter and the US naval units in Singapore.
Ram Sethu as an ancient monument, a sacred world heritage
Many monuments have been declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO:
- Coiba National Park and its Special Zone of Marine Protection in Panama Tubbataha Reef
- Marine Park in the Philippines
- Kvarken Archipelago / High Coast in Sweden/Finland
- Giant’s Causeway and Causeway Coast in UK
- Great Barrier Reef in Australia
- Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System in Belize
- Mont St. Michel and its Bay in France
- Ha Long Bay in Vietnam
- Matobo Hills in Zimbabwe
US court backs Indian tribe (Navajo) to prevent desiccation of a sacred mountain in USA 3000 pages of documentation were submitted to the Madras High Court which accepted the arguments that the Ram Sethu should be deemed to be an ancient monument and a world heritage under UNESCO world heritage and UNESCO underwater cultural heritage conventions to which India is a signatory.
The logo of Survey of India refers to Sethu—Aa Sethu Himachalam, meaning: from Sethu to Himalayas as Bharatam. This is thus a national metaphor, defining the national boundaries as Himalayas and Hindumaha-sagaram.
There are cartographic evidences such as the one provided in Schwarzberg of University of Chicago’s South Asia Atlas.
Heat flow in Ram Sethu is 100 to 180 milliwatt per sq. m. comparable to Himalayan hotsprings. Will dredging in the area activate these heat zones?.
It is a criminal act of negligence that the work was commenced without consulting the Geological Survey of India which is mandated to provide guidance for such projects.
If a land-based canal alignment is chosen, it will be possible to provide locks on either end of the canal to prevent disturbance to ocean habitats of aquatic resources mandated under the Law of the Sea.
Tsunami protection walls as part of any canal project should be provided: for example, tsunami wall in Japan. The project does not include such protection measures. In fact, NEERI report did not even taken into account past history of cyclones and tsunamis.
Channel in mid-ocean is an unprecedented, risky enterprise. The Suez and Panama canals are land-based canals. To try to create a mid-ocean channel passage in turbulent waters of the Palk Straits is an invitation to disaster, putting nation’s security and coastline integrity at risk.
The Suez Canal uses special bollards every 200 ft. to salvage a grounded vessel. Such bollards are possible only if a land-based canal is used.
According to Capt. Balakrishnan, the saving in time from Kolkata to Tuthukudi (Tuticorin) for a ship will be only 1.5 hrs, while crossing channel at six nautical miles paying pilotage charges approx. Rs. 5 lakh per passage? Even many small ships with only 30,000 Dead Weight Tonnes may prefer to navigate around Sri Lanka instead of using the channel.
Ram Sethu is divya-kshetram, world heritage. It embodies the deep cultural social memory of Rama Rajya and rashtram governed by raj dharma, as Sri Rama is vigrahavaan dharmah. This memory is embellished in over 10,000 epigraphs of rulers in Bharatam who state that they try to emulate the rashtradharma of Sri Ram. Sri Rama and his memory cherished in this heritage will live as long as humanity lives. Sri Ram’s words resonate today: Jananee Janmabhumisc’ a svargaadapi gareeyasee (Mother, mother earth is greater than svarga). That’s why Ram Sethu must be protected.
Justive V.R. Krishna Iyer: I beseech Prime Minister to reconsider the stand taken if any already. This is a matter of political party business or popularity or pro-American yen…the grave issue with which the nation shall defend its survival.
Justice K.T. Thomas: It is our duty to make an in-depth study of all possible repercussions before destroying the natural geological formations. That apart, the religious sentiments of the majority community in India that Lord Rama created such sea wall must be honoured and respected.
Sir A.R. Mudaliar Committee Report 1956: Choose canal, not mid-ocean channel passage
* Shifting sandbanks
* No possibility of construction of protective works… definite navigational hazard
* Channel would border on the Sethusamudram Medial Line.
“In these circumstances we have no doubt, whatsoever that the junction between the two sea should be effected by a canal; and the idea of cutting a passage in the sea through Adam’s Bridge should be abandoned.”
Thorium deposits in Kerala (Aluva, Chavara), Tamilnadu (Manavalakurichi)
US Navy operational directive of June 23, 2005, sought to change the Indira Gandhi-Sirimavo Bandaranaike declaration of 1974. The directive refused to declare these as ‘historic waters’ and to operationalise their assertion, sent their naval warships into these waters. This is a serious violation of national sovereignty which has gone unnoticed so far.
There is another geopolitical perspective. That relates to the existence of 32 per cent of the world’s reserves of thorium in just three villages south of Ram Sethu (See table I). If these thorium reserves get desiccated and go into the ocean through a future tsunami funnelled through the channel passage, India will have to continue to depend upon purchased uranium from NSG countries.
There is an international conspiracy behind this choice and an utter disdain of governance, a veritable failure to safeguard nation’s wealth of placer deposits containing thorium and titanium.
Destruction of Ram Sethu is a serious breach of strategic national security. Ram Sethu is a tsunami protection wall which saved the coastline of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and westcoast during the last devastating tsunami of December 26, 2004. It is impermissible to damage such a protective structure impairing the integrity and security of the nation.
Scientific investigations and results
· Department of Earth Sciences noted in its report of March 2007, based on the report of a consultant that around Rameswaram, there are raised Teri formations that supported a rich assemblage of mesolithic – microlithic tools indicating the presence of strong human habitation and activity in these areas as early as 8000 to 9000 years BP and as recent as 4000 years BP. On Sri Lanka side there are indications of human habitation extending to late Pleistocene (about 13,000 BP) based on bone and fossils of human and animal form.
· All these point to a flourishing human activity on both sides of Adams Bridge and probably when the sea levels were just right the link between India and Sri Lanka could have been established.