Protect Ramasetu, Scrap Sethu channel project : Rameshwaram Ramsetu Protection Movement,

published on September 19, 2013

Rameshwaram Ramsetu Protection Movement,
12, MV Naidu Street, Chennai 600031
President: S. Kalyanaraman Secretary: D. Kuppuramu

September 16, 2013

Protect Ramasetu, abandon setu channel project for national security and enhance lives of coastal people

UPA Government together with the DMK of Tamilnadu should not attempt to revive the Setu channel project which has been declared to be an ecological and economic disaster by the Pachauri Committee.

We demand that there should be increased security in the Indian Ocean region of Sethusamudram in the context of increased Chinese naval presence in the Ocean and to safeguard the maritime traffic passing through the Indian Ocean.

We demand projects be implemented URGENTLY to provide livelihood opportunities for coastal people. The context is the recent changes to Law of the Sea which extends territorial waters beyond 20 nautical miles from the shoreline and creates a 200 nautical mile Special Maritime Economic Zone from the long shoreline of 8000 kms. of India. We demand that Marine cooperatives should be formed, fishing berths enhanced to berth larger fishing vessels, provided with air-conditioned storage facilities. Coastal people dependent upon coastal aquaculture activities should be provided with larger boats which they can navigate upto 200 nautical miles of Special Maritime Zone on three days and nights fishing and aquaculture expeditions.

Environmentalists and marine biologists are aghast at the stand taken by the Centre before the Supreme Court that it wished to go ahead with the Sethudamudram Ship Channel Project (SSCP) in the original form, thereby rejecting the RK Pachauri Committee report that had recommended an alternative alignment since the proposed channel through the eco-sensitive Rama Sethu (Adam’s Bridge) was not feasible economically and ecologically.

For the Government of India to now reject it own committee’s report makes a mockery of the rule of law in this country.

The responsibility of a nation-state is to respect its own guidelines for approving projects. The law required that environmental impact analysis should be carried out for every project. The Pachauri committee thus constituted had gone into the environmental issues after studying for two years and came up with ‘an emphatic conclusion that this project is not ecologically feasible.’

Marine economists argue that the Sethu project is not the only option for moving goods between the east coast and the west. Container ports could be built at Vizhinjam, Cochin and Tuticorin and freight corriors established from there through the rest of the country. Similarly pipelines could be laid for transporting oil and gas from the western ports to the east. Why go into a project which will benefit only a very few navigating vessels carrying less than 30,000 tonnes because of the very shallow waters of Gulf of Mannar?
IIM, Bangalore had done an economic analysis of the Sethu project and found it was not economically feasible. Also, geologists have reported that the region is a fragile marine reserve subject to volcanic and tectonic activity. Globally famous tsunami expert Tad S. Murthy had cautioned that cutting through Adam’s Bridge would case devastation of the coastline from Nagapattinam to Kollam in the event of a tsunami.

Setuchannel project was clearly envisaged to fill the pockets of politicos and foreign dredging companies. Any effort to revive such an uneconomic and ecologically disastrous project affecting the security and safety of the coastline near the fragile Gulf of Mannar in Sethusamudram will meet with severe protests from the coastal people of Tamil Nadu. Coastal People of Tamil Nadu congratulate the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Smt. Dr. Jayalalithaa for taking a clear and unequivocal stand in the Hon’ble Supreme Court declaring cancellation of the Setuchannel project and protection for Rama setu declaring it as a National Monument. Any mischievous political attempts of UPA Government supported by DMK which has lost peoples’ support will invite protests which will throw out the UPA Government from office.

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