Sethusamudram project and impending Tsunami devastation of Kerala

via S. Kalyanaraman, Ph.D.,Sarasvati Research Centre published on February 18, 2007

Sethusamudram project has been put on fast track, with little concern for detailed impact analyses on lives of coastal people and the imperative of continuous dredging operations to operate the channel.


The most devastating comment on the project comes from Dr. Tad S.Murthy:


“I like this (Sethusamudram) project’, he said, `but there is a flaw. The entrance to the channel should be re-oriented towards the eastern side. Otherwise, there is a chance that it may create a deepwater route for another devastating tsunami. This may cause huge destruction in Kerala.” DHI Software Company-USA


Dr. Murthy is chief editor of the reputed International Tsunami Journal “Science of Tsunami Hazards” for over two decades.


Let me explain why the warning should be taken seriously.


During the last tsunami, the Ramar Bridge (at a high elevation) from the rest of the shoal accumulations acted as a natural barrier preventing the direct devastation of the entire Bharatam coastline south and southwest of Nagapattinam.


See the picture at


This shows the spread of the massive displacement of waters displaced

by the plate tectonic event at Aceh. The spread was dosing the southern Tamilnadu coastline, circled the entire Srilanka island and moved partially into Kerala and towards the Ramar bridge. This circling around Srilanka occurred because the Ramar bridge acted as a natural shoal barrier preventing the inflow of waters.


If a Sethusamudram channel is dug through the bridge, it will act as the channel for the waters to flow directly into the entire southern bharatam coastline beyond Dhanushkodi and into the coastline of Kerala right into the Konkan region. The devastation will be incalculable.


Click on this URL to see an animated model of how the last tsunami moved, doing a pradakshinam around the Ramar bridge.


This clearly shows how Ramar bridge (Ramasethu) had acted as a ‘a highwall’ and, in fact, saved most of the coastline west and northwest of Dhanushkodi from devastation.


There are clear indications that the environmental clearance was done

without taking into account fundamental engineering and cost-benefit



1. Effect of a tsunami-type of event on the project (all scientists are unanimous that a recurrence of tsunami’s cannot be ruled out).


2. Locations for dumping the dredged sand


3. Costs of continuous dredging given the continuous sea currents

which tend to create the shoals and again rebuild the Ramar bridge

making the project inoperatble for most of the time.


4. The types of naval craft which can navigate through the project

channel (Apparently, the heavy oil tankers cannot go through this

channel and will continue to circumnavigate around Srilanka and

through Straits of Malacca to reach the markets of Southeast and East

Asia. There has been no market study of the numbers and types of

vessels which will navigate through the channel and the freight rates

expected to be paid by these vessel for being tugged through the



Sources cited at


In the interests of safety of the lives of the coastal people, it is prudent to stop the project work until the fundamental factors are re-studied and re-evaluated. It is also essential to involve NIOT and create a Marine Archaeological Unit to study the archaeology of the Ramar Bridge and Kizhakkarai (Tiruchendur) where a s’ankha industry flourishes. It will be a tragedy of incalculable proportion to the cultural traditions of Bharatam, if this industry were to be devastated by the project.

 It will be prudent to study the impact of the project on the cultural aspirations of the people and industries such as the ones which support livelihood of s’ankha divers. Impact on fisheries and future projects for desalination of seawater to provide drinking water to coastal towns should also be evaluated. The possibility of choosing an alternative route for the channel with little impact on the Ramar bridge should also be re-studied, taking into account the satellite image analyses which show that the secular historical trend of incursions and recessions of seawaters from almost the entire Bharatam coastline from Dwaraka through Gulf of Khambat, through Gulf of Mannar upto Ganga Sagar (West Bengal) — caused by a number of factors not excluding plate tectonics and global warming cycles.

The received narratives of the submergence of Kumarikandam should be a pointer to the imperative of careful studies before embarking on projects which hurt the cultural sentiments of the people who are inheritors of a glorious sea-faring, maritime, riverine civilization continuum.


Ramar bridge (Ramasethu) had saved the coastline during tsunami 2004; stop Sethu Project.

Breaking the bridge with a 300-meter wide canal will suck the next, impending, tsunami directly into the Bharatam coastline. Devastation will be incalculable, particularly in southern Bharatam.

Govt. of India should stop further work on Sethusamudram project and stop meddling with the natural protective structure of Ramasethu.


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