I was surprised that the Committee should ask me to provide them with copies of the Madras HC judgement of 19 June 2007 and references to Setu in Sangam and ancient Tamil texts. In addition to the Chairman and Member Secretary, there were 5 members of the Committee. Outside the Committee room, there is a big announcement that it is a PRIVATE HEARING. This is in violation of the high democratic traditions promised by ASG in the Supreme Court for listening to alternative views. Anyway, I just had 25 minutes to present my views in addition to my written submission. The big announcement said that only 10 minutes are allowed. So much for transparency of the Committee process which is clearly a command performance, expected to submit their report on Nov. 11. I hope and pray that the Committee members will have the integrity to go through all the volumes of submissions carefully and with due diligence. Hope springs eternal even in a criminalised polity.
Copy of the follow-up letter submitted, in good faith, to the Committee to supply the requested documents.
Rama Setu: Objections on Setu channel, submitted to CEPSSCP by Dr. S. Kalyanaraman
Chennai, 31 October 2007 (Regd. Post Ack. Due)
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
Sub: Request for opportunity for presentation before the Committee
Thanks for providing me an opportunity for PRIVATE HEARING on 31 October 2007 between 10 and 10:25 AM.
As requested, I am attaching herewith two documents:
1. Madras HC judgement of 19 June 2007 in 11 pages detailing why Rama Setu should be declared as an Ancient Monument under the 1958 Act. You may note that the Hon’ble Court noted that irrespective of whether the Rama Setu is man-made or natural, it meets the criteria for such a declaration.
2. References to Setubandhanam in Tamil texts starting from Akananooru, Sangam age text and also Manimekalai and Silappadikaaram.
I would like to reiterate the oral submissions made by me highlighting the following aspects making it imperative to shelve the Setu mid-ocean channel passage project:
· Nature magazine of 6 Sept. 2007 indicates the ongoing plate tectonic activity in Sunda plate and the impending tsunami more devastating than the 26 Dec. 2004 tsunami.
· There has been serious neglect in not conducting detailed studies and total review of the project in the wake of the Dec. 2004 tsunami and impossibility of providing protective measures in the channel and locks on either end of the channel rendering the channel a navigational hazard and a national security issue.
· References to the responsibility of public servants under Section 295 and 304 of IPC in ensuring that there is no hurt to sentiments of communities and the minimizing of loss of lives by any project alternatives.
· The ongoing loot of thorium deposits (monazite sand) place deposit accumulations south of Rama Setu and the national imperative to protect these accumulations thanks to Rama Setu acting as a sieve with clock-wise and counter-clock-wise ocean currents.
· Reference to the FIR of 19 pages lodged in Madurai Bench of Madras HC about illegal export of thorium-containing sands from sand godowns.
· Failure to involve the Geological Survey of India in the project design.
· Arbitrary drawing of a channel passage 3 kms. west of the medial line between India and Srilanka without pre-project bathymetry and oceanographic studies.
· Failure to involve National Institute of Oceanography.
· Interference by US Navy Operational Directive of 23 June 2005 and inauguration of the project on 2 July 2005 disregarding the Sirimavo Bandaranaike-Indira Gandhi declaration of June 1974 declaring the Gulf of Mannar-Palk bay waters as HISTORIC WATERS. US Navy treating these as international waters is ominous and impinges upon India’s national sovereignty effectively succumbing to US pressures creating an international boundary which Sir A Ramaswamy Mudaliar Committee categorically sought to avoid. The Commiteee had also categorically stated that any idea of cutting a channel passage through Rama Setu should be ABANDONED because of the impossibility of controlling sedimentation in the region and the Committee suggested a land-based canal across Mandapam with protective measures and locks on the lines of the land-based Suez or Panama Canals. Fisherfolk from India and Srilanka have historically had rights to use the aquatic resources as a shared commonwealth.
· Failure of NEERI to take into account the sedimentation rates, recurrence of cyclones and tsunamis.
· Madras HC judgement of 19 June 2007 in 11 pages is a categorical acceptance of the 3000 pages of evidence submitted and the Court observation that the Rama Setu is an Ancient Monument under the 1958 Act. The Court also referred to Section 295 IPC and the recommendations of Sir A Ramaswamy Mudaliar Committee.
· References to Setu in Parantaka Chola’s copper plate (Velanjeri) of 10th century, 1903 Madras Presidency Administrative Manual, 1972 Ramanathapuram Gazetteer, sculptures showing setubandhana in a panel on Parambanan temple in Indonesia (published by Archaeological Survey of India), unprofessional nature of the withdrawn ASI affidavit in the Supreme Court and failure of project reports to recognize the archaeological, cultural and religious importance of the Setutirtha, Chittoor Rani Padmini’s baaraat taking place on Rama Setu (since her birthplace was Jaffna) which has always functioned as a land-bridge between India and Srilanka, meaning of the word ‘setu’ in Tamil meaning ‘ceyarkarai’ (artificial bund), bund as an English word coming from Bandha of Indian languages, imperative of declaring it as Ancient Monument, recommendation to declare it as World Heritage and as Divyakshetra on the lines of the declaration by AP Govt. for Tirumala pilgrimage place.
E&OE. I have a request to make. Please do make available to me a copy of the transcript of my oral submission since my submission has been videographed.
Dr. S. Kalyanaraman