Objections Raised by Shri Haran to “COMMITTEE OF EMINENT PERSONS” -SSCP

published on October 31, 2007

To:

The Secretary,

The Committee of Eminent Persons on

Sethusamudram Shipping Channel Project,

“Malligai”

30/95. P.S.Kumarasamy Raja Road,

Chennai – 600 028.

Sir

Sub: Objections and Suggestions on SSCP.

Ref: Your Press Advertisements inviting for Objections & Suggestions.

The Great Nationalist and Poet Subramania Barathiyar, being a believer and a staunch Hindu, probably motivated by the Great ‘Ithihasa’ Ramayana, had dreamt of a bridge connecting India and Srilanka, about which he had expressed in one of his immortal poems.

The British rulers also studied and analyzed such a project and dropped the idea altogether, as it was not a viable one in many aspects. In independent India too, committees were constituted to study the viability of the project and lastly the A.Ramaswamy Mudaliar Committee had categorically said that, only a land-based canal could be built and that, the idea of demolishing “Rama Sethu” must be abandoned.

Later, after almost four decades, the NDA Government laid the foundation and gave the green signal, and the present UPA Government had inaugurated the project in 2005.

Since then, I have been closely following the development of the project and the relevant issues and their consequences.

In a life full of uncertainties, many things might be conceived, but only a few are brought out. Many projects might be planned, but only a few are implemented or executed. There are many reasons for the non-implementation of projects. Some reasons are economical; a few are scientific; a few are environmental; a few are due to security concerns and a few are beyond our reasoning, which are attributed to GOD and Nature by the Religionists and the Atheists respectively. I strongly feel that, the SSCP belongs to the non-viable & non-implemental category because of all the above-said reasons and that is the ‘unique aspect’ of this project!

I, as the Citizen of this Great Country, am deeply concerned with the “fall outs” (Economical, Environmental, Law & Order and National Security) of the implementation of a controversial project of this magnitude and hence I request you to kindly consider the “Objections & Suggestions”, which I have enclosed along with necessary supportive materials as annexure.

I hope and pray, that the Eminent Committee would recommend for a peaceful solution for the utmost satisfaction of all concerned.

Thanking You Sir,

Yours truly,

B.R.Haran.

OBJECTIONS

* The “Rama Sethu” is a sacred and revered monument for the millions of Hindus and along with the “Himalayas”, it plays a great role in integrating the people of this Great Nation. While Rameshwaram is a very important place of pilgrimage, the “Rama Sethu” is a place of worship for the Hindus. The Hindu religious and cultural organizations have requested only for the change of alignment without opposing the project as such, but certain quarters, with an intention of politicizing this issue, have given a communal colour by spreading a canard like “150 years dream of “Tamils” is being threatened by the “Hindus” in the name of Lord Rama and Rama Sethu”, through the media, which is very unfortunate. The so-called rationalists have also indulged in hurting the religious sentiments of the Hindus by issuing statements and through press interviews. Such actions give a lot of room for anti-social & fanatic elements, which take law in to their hands and play havoc threatening peace & harmony. Since time immemorial, our Nation has been a land of Rishis, Munivars, Acharyas, Mahans, Gurus and Mahatmas and the people of our Nation have always revered and worshipped them. They have always been our permanent source of “strength”. As all the Hindu Religious Gurus are opposed to the demolition of the Rama Sethu, we should heed their advices and accept them. Hence, the “Rama Sethu” must not be destructed at any cost, and the religious sentiments of Hindus must be respected.

* Mr.S.R.Rao, Eminent Scientist and President of Society of Marine Archeology in India, who discovered the submerged “Dwaraka” off the coast of Gujarat and proved the historicity of Krishna & Mahabaratha, had categorically said that, a proper exploration and survey must be done to save & protect the Rama Sethu. He had said, “Rama Sethu is an ancient monument of national and international importance. Based on overwhelming archeological, epigraphical and scientific evidences, Rama Sethu should be declared and protected as a World Heritage Site”. Hence the Rama Sethu must not be damaged and steps must be taken to implement the suggestion of Mr.S.R.rao.

* Dr.S.Badrinarayanan, Eminbent Geologist and former Director, Geological Survey of India and Consultant, National Institute of Ocean Technology had said, “It is a well known fact that the coral reefs can only form in clean & unpolluted water and these being marine organisms require firm & compact formation as foundation. Geological & geophysical studies of Rama Sethu reveal the presence of loose marine sand below the coral layer clearly indicating the coral layer in the form of boulders are not natural and formed on their own, but have been transported by somebody and dumped there; thus clearly establishing the fact that Rama Sethu is very much manmade in the hoary past”. Hence the Rama Sethu must not be damaged, but protected.

* The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has been done by NEERI much before the fatal attack of Tsunami on 26th of December 2004 and hence it becomes imperative to have a new study done by considering the impact of Tsunami and the effects of future Tsunamis. Prof. Tad S. Murthy, Vice President, The Tsunami Society, Ottawa, who is also a consultant for our central government for developing our own Tsunami Warning Systems, has said, “Execution of SSCP in its present form & alignment will lead to unprecedented disasters along the coast line of southern Tamil Nadu
& Kerala during the next Tsunami”. Hence the Rama Sethu must not be destroyed.

* Prof. CSP Iyer, Executive Director, Center for Marine Analytical Reference and Standards, Trivandrum has said “The execution of SSCP would have an adverse impact on the sensitive ecosystem and the marine life in Palk Bay and the Gulf of Mannar, home and breeding ground to a large number of endangered marine life and species, viz, Dugong, Sea Turtles, Dolphins and Sea Horses thriving in the coral reefs that abound in this region”. Hence the Rama Sethu must not be damaged, as the damage & dredging would prove detrimental to all the rare marine organisms.

* Captain (Indian Navy) & Master Mariner H.Balakrishnan has studied the [project in detail and had presented his findings in the form of articles as “Mariner’s Perspective”, which have been widely published by the mainstream media in India. So far his findings have not been objected or contested by any of the functionaries associated with the project, which goes to prove that the project doesn’t make any ‘nautical sense’. He had analyzed the project taking in to consideration the important factors such as distance, fuel-need, time duration, pilot requirement & pilotage and tonnage of vessels, etc and arrived at a conclusion that the project is not viable at all. Captain Balakrishnan has said, “Considering the present global and geopolitical situation and insurgency & terrorists’ threat perceptions, it is felt that the execution of SSCP would poise a grave danger to National Security”. Hence the Project deserves to be shelved.

* Dr.S.Kalyanaraman Ph D, Eminent Scientist & Director, Saraswathi Research Center who is in the forefront of saving & protecting the magnificent & wonderful world heritage monument Rama Sethu, hasd said, “The SSCP would lead to destruction of fish & marine life in the Palk Bay and Gulf of Mannar, resulting in loss of livelihood of thousands of fishermen and their families, along the southern coast of Tamil Nadu. The project does not include Tsunami protection measures”. Hence the project must be shelved.

* Apart from the expert opinions of the experts belonging to relevant fields, there are umpteen evidences to prove the historicity of Rama Sethu. Historical, Sculptural, Socio-Cultural, Literary, Numismatic, Cartographical, Epigraphical, Geological & Archeological evidences have been presented for the existence of the Rama Sethu for ages. Mr.V.Sundaram I.A.S. First Chairman of Tuticorin Port Trust, Scholar & Journalist, who had compiled all the above-said evidences in his masterpiece titled “Rama Sethu-Historic Facts vs Political Fiction” had said, “SSCP in its present form is scientifically inconsistent and technically indefensible”. Hence, Rama Sethu must be protected and the SSCP must be shelved.

* Mr.Ossie Fernandes, Environmentalist & Leader, Coastal Action Network, has been working tirelessly to save the livelihood of thousands of fishermen and their families and also to save the lives of thousands of rare marine species. He has been vociferously against the project since the beginning and he had said, “A spoilt environment would lead to the threat of livelihood of fishermen in the coastal districts of Tamil Nadu”. The website www.earthdive.com has published a news item along with his interview in January 2007.

* The famous journal “Current Science” has addressed the short term & long term implications of this project, raising relevant questions on the technical feasibility of the project.

* Retired Army Officer Colonel S.S.Rajan, concerned with the implications of the SSCP, took a “Padha Yathra” from Chennai to Rameshwaram, covering a distance of 650 Kms for creating awareness on the importance of protecting Rama Sethu. Through this padha yathra, he had appealed to the government “To protect Rama Sethu for saving the livelihood of thousands of fishermen, to save the environment for the safety & well being of thousands of marine organisms & rare species, to respect the religious sentiments of millions of Hindus as that of Christians, Muslims and other Minorities, to secure the Nation from the threats of Terrorists”. He also had the support of a great number of Army, Air force and Naval officers in person, as well as through correspondences, thereby upholding the secular fabric of the Armed Forces. Hence, this project must be shelved and the Rama Sethu must be protected.

* The Tamil Nadu Tourism Department had rightly claimed that the Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park is a wild life sanctuary and a great Marine Biosphere running along the coasts of Ramanathapuram & Thoothukudi covering 21 Islands, 623 ha, full of Coral reefs, Dugong, Turtles, Dolphins and other Marine Species. The Department says that the Kurusadai Islands off Mandapam boasts of a vast expanse of shallow water. The presence of ‘flora & fauna’ here are in their virgin form.

* The Honourable Shipping & Road Transport Minister Mr.T.R.Balu, when he was the Union minister for Environment & Forests during the NDA regime, had inaugurated The Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Trust on the 16th of December 2000. During the function, he had given a scintillating speech delving at the concept & importance of Biosphere. He had said, “The Biosphere is a “Biologists’ Paradise” and that it was established for attempting an integrated approach to resolving the adverse impact of human activities on the rich biodiversity of this ecologically fragile area”. He had called upon the people, “Work with commitment & vigor for the cause of conservation of biological diversity”. So, as per the contention of Mr.T.R.Balu, it becomes imperative for us to protect the ecologically fragile area and hence the project must be shelved.

* In the event of implementation of this project after completion of dredging, there is a strong possibility of spillage of oils & chemicals, which would be devastating for the entire marine life in the area. In this context, we must recall the situation prevailing in the rivers & oceans of Europe, which are totally polluted and completely rid of marine organisms. Now the authorities there are finding it very difficult to repopulate the rivers & oceans with newly bred organisms like the “Salmon Fish”, etc, which have become almost extinct. In the event of such a disaster, do we have a disaster management mechanism in place? D we have a disaster prevention mechanism in place?

* The present committee constituted by the Central government does not have experts from the fields of Geology, Marine Archeology, Marine Industry, Coastal Security and Indian Navy, which are vitally relevant & important to assess the viability of the project. So, I feel the said committee must be reconstituted as experts from the above said fields have been missed out.

* I feel the inclusion of Historians in the committee is irrelevant and doesn’t make sense at all, as the central government had already accepted the historicity of Lord Rama, Ramayana and Rama Sethu. Despite the fact that the Existence of Rama Sethu for ages has been established with authentic facts & evidences, it is a matter of faith & belief of millions of Hindus, which cannot be questioned by any authority, as Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Worship have been enshrined in our Secular Constitution. Hence the inclusion of Historians in the committee is not necessary.

SUGGESTIONS

As this unviable project is destined to be shelved, I, as a Tamilian, have a sincere suggestion for the development of the state, particularly the area under debate.

* The Gulf of Mannar Biosphere can be developed as a prominent place in the map of International Tourism.

* An Underwater Aquarium can be built, where the national & international tourist community could enjoy the sight of coral reefs and thousands of rare marine organisms.

* A portion of Rama Sethu at “Sethukarai” near “Thirupullani” can be identified and promoted as a prominent tourist place.

* A fresh Geological and Marine Archeological survey could be conducted and consequently the Rama Sethu could be declared and protected as a World Heritage Monument, which would help for a heavy inflow of international tourists.

* Governments may come and go. But, the people, environment and the site remain forever. So, if the above suggestions are considered, the governments can have the satisfaction of spending the taxpayers’ money in a useful and productive way.

* In the event of implementation of the above steps, coastal areas would develop further; fishermen livelihood would not be affected; environment would be maintained & protected; marine organisms would flourish; revenue will keep on increasing due to tourism & pilgrimage. Last but not the least, all sections of people would live in peace & harmony without getting hurt, religiously or otherwise.

ANNEXURES

1. The statement of Dr.S.R.Rao, Founder, Society of Marine Archeology in India.
2. The statements of Dr.S.Kalyanaraman,Ph D, Director, Sarswathi Research Centre.
3. The statements of Prof CSP Iyer, Executive Director, Center for Marine Analytical Reference and Standards, Trivandrum.
4. The papers presented by Captain H.Balakrishnan.
5. The news published by www.earthdive.com
6. The news published by “Current Science”.
7. The Tamil Nadu Tourism’s Advertisement (Web Page)
8. Text of Mr.T.R.Balu’s speech, when he inaugurated the Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Trust, in December 2000, when he was Union Minister for Environment & Forests, in the NDA government.
9. “Rama Sethu – Historic Facts vs Political Fiction” – Compiled by Mr.V.Sundaram. I.A.S.
10. “Sethu Bandhanam” – A compilation of Tamil Literary evidences by Shri.R.Subbarayulu.

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