Rama Setu: Objections on Setu channel, submitted to CEPSSCP by Dr. S. Kalyanaraman

Chennai, 24 October 2007 (Regd. Post Ack. Due)

To:

Member Secretary, Committee of Eminent Persons on Sethu Samudram Shipping Channel Project, MALLIGAI, No. 30/95, P.S. KUMARASAMY RAJA (GREENWAYS) ROAD, Chennai – 600 028. Tel No.  : 044-24959005, 24959006

Respected sir,

Sub: Request for opportunity for presentation before the Committee

I request that I be given an opportunity to present a power point slide presentation to the Committee which will take about 40 minutes. I will also submit documentary evidences on the points listed below.

Please let me know the convenient time and date.

Since this Committee is meant to provide an opportunity for all citizens of the country, it is fair to demand that the submissions made in Official languages of the country be accepted. The Committee has also issued advertisements in all major language newspapers of the country and in recognition of this fact, it will be reasonable and fair to demand that submissions made to the committee in regional languages should be accepted. It will also be reasonable and fair to demand that the Committee should visit all major district headquarters to provide facilities for the maximum number of citizens to express their comments/objections/suggestions/ concerns. Such arrangements are likely to render the committee deliberations democratic, credible, fair and convenient to the citizens at large.

The following aspects of the project require special attention and hence, concerned citizens may like to submit their petitions, on each of these topics, in separate and distinct submissions to ensure fair, focussed attention and hearing.

1.      Govt. of India stated in its affidavit before Supreme Court that the public hearings were on 28 Jan. & Feb., 2005. Surprisingly the whole coastal area of Tamilnadu  was affected by Tsumani of Dec. 26, 2004, and it was impossible to conduct a fair public hearing. The present committee should remedy this serious lapse and arrange for public areas in all district headquarters from all concerned citizens.

2.      A complete study is required by the Geological survey of India to determine geotectonic situation in the project area, ocean currents, changes in bathymetry of the Indian ocean after the tsunami of 26 Dec.2004.

3.      It is pertinent to note that the project runs through Gulf of Mannar & Palk Bay, both of which are distinctly different ocean current systems; this project would mix & remix the ocean waters rendering the bathymetry of the channel area totally unstable.

4.      Consultation with National Institute of Oceanography is also required to delineate the conditions of the ocean; researchers point to the fact that this project area is a sedimentation sink of the world’s ocean currents; continuing sedimentation will be virtually impossible to control noted Sir A Ramaswamy Mudaliar Committee of 1956.

5.      This area has already been declared as a marine biosphere of South Asia and it is a highly fertile aquatic breeding are of the country, apart from the 24 marine national parks of Ram Setu area being home to 3,600 aquatic species; a study and consultation report is required from Central Marine and Fisheries Research Institute.

6.      It is a historically and culturally important area. A detailed study of Archeological survey of India is required in the special context of Marine Archeology for which ASI has established a separate unit.

7.      The various study reports, in particular the report of 34 Srilankan   experts, invite attention to the dangers that this sethu Samudaram project will also disturb the ground drinking water of the coastal area of Jaffna & Rameshwaram. Consultation with experts in ground water systems is necessary.

8.      Geotectonic studies are also required because it is an intense Geothermal activity area (marked as Zone 2 in Heat Flow map of India prepared by Geological Survey of India) and existence of volcanic rocks and hotspring wells along this coastline are known through various studies. Any project work involving dredging and/or blasting is likely to trigger these faultlines in the ecologically fragile zone.

9.      It is a well-known fact that in other countries like Japan they have constructed a Tsunami safety walls, since tsunamis recur at the same spots and zone;but, no environment management plan has been prepared by the govt. for the protection of coastal area from Tsunamis. There is a report in the Nature magazine of 6 September 2007 of another more devastating tsunami in this zone, directed towards Rama Setu; Govt. should suspend all coastal project works and order a multi-disciplinary inquiry on the safeguards needed to protect nation’s coastline and peoples’ lives.

10.  The displacement problems and livelihood of 138 directly affected villages of fisherman has not been studied.

11.  The economic viability aspect of sethu Samudaram project is in question since the project estimates are faulty, have been padded and grossly underestimate the maintenance dredging requirements, apart from ignoring any provisions for salvage operations for grounded vessels, comparable to those provided on Suez and Panama land-based canals. The experiment with a mid-ocean channel passage is an unprecedented project in human history and has not taken into account the warnings issues by Sir A Ramaswamy Mudaliar Committee Report on the impossibility of providing protective works in such a channel and of locks on either end of the channel to separate the Bay of Bengal waters from Gulf of Mannar.

12.   Impact on international relations has not been studied.

13.   Cost recovery is doubtful. The channel is likely to be a sick-unit from day one.

14.   No comparative study has been made on the losses resulting from adverse impacts on fishing industry and aquatic resources industry.

15.  Complete study is needed of the historical evolution of local s’ankha industry which is unique in the world as an 8500 year-old continuing industry.

16.  There have been no consultations with industrial groups like FICCI, Assocham, traders, NGOs of the coastal region, and Fishermen associations.

17.  There is no white paper on technical feasiblity report.

18.  Alternative transport systems such as pipelines and highways are growing rapidly in the country. Economics of alternative transport modes, as an alternative to navigation have not been presented.

19.  Violation of International sea conventions.

20.  Violation of Historic Water Treaty with Srilanka (June 1974 between Smt. Indira Gandhi and Smt. Sirimavo Bandaranaike) declaring the waters as Historic Waters. US Naval Operational Directive of 23 June 2005 questions this declaration and treats these as international waters. By creating the channel along the medial line, under apparent pressure from USA, national sovereignty is impaired, breaking Srilanka apart from India which is effectively connected as a land-mass because of Rama Setu as a functioning bridge linking the two countries for thousands of years. (Annexed is a statement of Former SC Justice VR Krishna Iyer on this issue).

21.  Permanent loss of endangered species is an imminent and present danger and due to the continuing dredging in the area, problems of turbidity/loss of sunlight will arise for sea species thus disturbing the sea habitat which is a violation of the Law of the Sea 1958 conventions.

22.  The project disturbs the world’s unique, and richest coral reef area.

23.  The affected project area includes the coastal line of Kerala, which was required to be studied. Failure to study this coastal region’s placer deposit wealth is a serious neglect, endangering the safety of the South India’s coastline including the coastline of Kerala.

24.  The impending loss of Thorium deposit of the country in placer deposits of monazite, ilmenite, rutile, zircon and garnet placer deposits along the coastline.

25.  For a comprehensive archeological study, the travelers; reports from 14 th Century to 18th Century, ancient coins, sculptures, districts gazettes and districts manuals are to be studied and considered.

26.  The name, ‘Sethu-‘ in ‘Sethusamudram’ indicates the cause and reason for historicity; district Rameshwaram is named after Shri Ram venerated as Rashtrapurush on the Constitution of India; both facets of historical and religious importance are to be considered and studied before carrying out any project on Rama Setu. The name ‘Setu’ meaning bridge, artificial bund (English word bund comes from Bandha, Setubandha of Bharatiya traditions) and mostly the persons around the locality are named after Sethu as well as Shri Ram. The project shall not, in violation of Section 295 of Indian Penal Code, make any invasion into the belief and faith or religious ceremony and religious importance attached to the world heritage ancient monument.

27.  There are so many references of Ram Setu in Indian scriptures & sculptures, indicating the construction of Setu by Shri Rama and required to be studied are works such as Valmiki Ramayana, Kamba Ramayana, Mahabharata, Vishnu Purana, Agni Purana, Skanda Purana, Garuda Purana, Narada Purana and variouos other books such as Setubandha of King Damodara Sena of 5 th century, relating with the Indian culture, especially R.C. Majumdar’s book on history of India and Asiatic Society researches and travelogues during the colonial regime, including Presidency Manuals of the British regime and correspondences of Lord Pentland of Madras Presidency with the Viceroy.

28.  There are so many places in India and specially in the context of Ram Setu in this particular area, both iin Srilanka and Tamil Nadu, whose relevance can be linked in the context of the Itihasa and facts outlined in the Ramayana.

29.  The Sethu Samudram project also endangers National security and it is grave danger to Kalpakam Atomic Station which requires studies by both Atomic Scientists along with the project Scientists, geopolitical and security experts.

30.  Threat by LTTE is not assessed and it requires to be studied in the of the ocean border strategies

31.  Study of geopolitics is required especially in context of US Navy operational directive related to the area issued on 23 rd June.2005.

32.  The creation of channel would alter the International Waters Boundary which would enable the neighbouring countries to restrict the operations of Indian Coast Guard and pose a threat to naval security.

33.   No proper appraisal of earlier study reports from 1860 to 1981 and reasons why the British abandoned the idea of a navigational passage through the Gulf of Mannar and instead chose a Railwayline between Kolkata and Bombay to transport the mineral wealth for export.

34.  A fresh study report is also required for assessing of the necessity of the project in the context of the existence of the Pamban gap with a Railway cantilever bridge which provides for navigation by small naval craft.

35.  A proper study and consideration is needed of religious sentiments of entire Hindu Community before carrying out the present channel project.

36.  There are dangers of losing flora and fauna due to oil spillage during navigation.

37.  A comprehensive study is needed for simulating and evaluating the impact of changing of ocean currents in future.

38.  Impact of future climatic changes is required to be analyzed especially in contest of cyclones, tsunamsi & global warming.

The composition of the committee does not infuse confidence in the impartiality of the committee, the composition is unsatisfactory and lacks credibility because of non-inclusion of experts such as: (i) Geology expert and (ii)oceanographic expert (iii) Tusanmi expert (iv) marine expert (v) security expert (vi) nautical expert (vii)  Legal expert in the felid of law of sea (viii) Marine Archeological expert. Among the members, S. Ramachandran, M. Sakthivel, Dilip K. Biswas, J.R.B. Alfred derived direct benefits from the Sethusamudram Corporation as members of Environmental Monitoring Committee of the project; RK Jain is a Govt. employee working in Indian Ports Association which is a society reporting to the Min. of Shipping; S.R. Wate is an employee of NEERI which had a contract with Sethusamudram Corporation and Govt. of India; P. Jagadeesan is a member of Tamilnadu State Planning Commission; RS Sharma, K Paddayya and Y. Vaikuntham are ideologues with declared Marxist orientation with pronounced anti-hindu bias. Any report of such a committee is likely to be a command performance unless the members affirm that the committee’s deliberations will not be a futile exercise, that they will be transparent. The Chairperson of the Committee has gone on record with his views publicly supporting the Govt. of India’s stand on the project. Hence, unless he has changed his views, the deliberations of the Committee will be biased, vitiated by a pre-judgement bias of the Chairperson. Under settled law, any claim of the Committee reaching a conclusion with fairness and impartiality considering all objections and suggestions will stand negated. This concern related to conflict of interest and bias need to be clarified. As Mr.Cardoze, a famous U.S legal luminary noted, ”Means un lawful in their inception do not become lawful by relation when suspicion turns in to discovery.”

Yours truly,

Dr. S. Kalyanaraman,

Former Sr. Exec., Asian Development Bank and IRAS (1962)(Retd.)

Director, Sarasvati Research Centre,

3 Temple Avenue, Srinagar Colony, Saidapet, Chennai 600015

Tel. 22350557 kalyan97@gmail.com

Annex

Protect Rama Setu, the historic and holy monument:

Statement issued by Shri. V.R.Krishna Iyer former Supreme Court Judge on 14 August 2007

According to Mr.Cardoze , famous U.S legal luminary, ”Means un lawful in their inception do not become lawful by relation when suspicion turns in to discovery.”

These words come to me when I talk of the Sethusamudaram Channel Project. The callousness with which such a big project is conceptualized and implemented is an unpardonable act .

First of all I would like to state that neither I nor any patriotic citizen could support this project. It is a serious fault that neither scientists, technocrats nor Indian Navy had been consulted and sought their opinions before this project was conceptualized. More over the project is an open challenge to age old Hindu beliefs.

At least the opinion that the implementation of this project as envisaged now may lead to oceanic eruptions like Tsunami should be considered and studied.

According Shri Kalyanaraman, the reputed researcher, this project would invite disasters like Tsunami to our southern coast and pose as a threat to the valuable mineral sand deposits along this coast .

Unlike in the case of Suez Canal, this canal penetrates deep in to the seabed. All this testifies that the construction of the canal is unwarranted .

I suspect that the haste with which he project is proposed to be completed, ignoring the welfare and progress of he people of India may be to further the interests of countries like America . About this I had send an emergency message to our Hon. Prime Minister.

What ever it maybe,  it is the duty of every Indian to see that this historic and holy monument is protected. With out succumbing to the pressures from foreign forces all should strongly oppose this project.

 I call upon each Indian to come forward and fight for such an important cause with out compromise. 

Sd. VR Krishna Iyer

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