Centre toying with Courts and peoples’ sentiments on Rama Setu

via Dr.S. Kalyanaraman published on January 16, 2008

What is the Govt. of India upto releasing the excerpts from Baalu committee report in bits and pieces? The petitioners should ask for ALL the 10,000 plus pages of submissions made to the Committee. It ain’t no expert committee and has no sanction to make recommendations.

The Hon’ble Court should direct that all the submissions made be made transparent for review by an advocates commission appointed by the Court, as a fair and transparent procedure for hearing and resolving public grievances. What was done by the data collection committee was NOT a public hearing.

The Environmental Impact Analysis under the legal provisions makes it mandatory to analyse the archaeological context BEFORE the project is approved. That this was NOT done makes the project illegal. The Culture Ministry has first to respond to the Madras HC judgement of 19 June 2007 where 11 pages of evidence were summarized clearly pointing to the fact that Rama Setu is an ancient monument which should be declared as such and protected under the 1958 Act. The Act says whether it is a piece of stone, cave, or water, if it is over 100 years old, if people reasonably believe in the sacredness and antiquity, the monument should be declared as an ancient monument of national importance. Nowhere in the Act is it mentioned that a monument should be man-made to be deemed a protected monument. Whether it is man-made or vaanara-made or divinity-made, it is a world heritage according to the UNESCO criteria and also the 1958 Act criteria. Why is the Govt. of India dodging the issue, and dodging acting on Madras HC judgement?

There are very serious concerns raised by scientists and true experts, that lead to the conclusion that the entire project should be scrapped. The Hon’ble Court should appoint an advocate commission as was done in the Tehri dam to get to the facts and reality of the real and imminent danger to the coastline if a 170 km. channel is dug in the Setusamudram creating a funnel to channel the energy of the next tsunami which will be more devastating than the 2004 tsunami putting at risk 6 to 7 crore coastal people of India according to the Nature magazine report of Sept. 6, 2007. The livelihood of the coastal people will be devastated since it is impossible to have both navigation and fishing for marine products in this narrow stretch. Alternatives to the project disaster is not another channel route, but a total rethink by setting up a Marine Economic Zone and laying alternative transport modes (such as pipelines for oil and gas movement from west coast to east coast, railway lines linking Colombo and Madurai, Jaffna and Nagapattinam and coastal railway linkint Thuthukudi (Tuticorin) and Chennai). The environmental situation in Setusamudram is so fragile yet so rich that it has been declared a South Asia Marine Bioreserve by UNESCO. India will be violating the international conventions to which India is a signatory if the habitats of over 3600 species of flora and fauna are devastated and exposed to the serious, real, high risks of oil spills.

Hon’ble Court should intervene forcefully and not allow the Centre to play games with peoples lives and national sovereignty and security.

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