Heritage

Setu

Map of Rama Setu 

Name of the map: Kaart van het Eiland Ceylon en de Kust van Madure (1656-1725) (Map of Ceylon and the coast of Madure)


Map size: 80 x 105,5 cm


Colored engraving map, by Dutch East India company (VOC)


Preserved at National Archives, The Hague, Netherlands.









Ramasetu -- S. Kalyanaraman, ed. (2007) Historical reality of Setubandha


Sethusamudram: EIA to begin next week

4 March 2010, The Hindu

KOCHI:The environment impact assessment (EIA) of the proposed new alignment of the Sethusamudram Shipping Channel project will begin next week.


A team of oceanographers and scientists from the National Institute of Oceanography, Goa, and Kochi will begin data collection as part of the assessment on March 10 from Tuticorin.


The Ministry of Shipping had chosen the institute for carrying out the EIA of the new alignment of the channel between the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Bay.


‘‘The project involves extensive year-round environmental data collection in the Gulf of Mannar, Palk Bay, Adam's Bridge and surrounding areas. It is expected that the project will lead to significant improvement in understanding the oceanography of this little studied region, besides determining feasibility of the Sethusamudram canal from the point of view of environment and economics,” according to a communication from the institute.


The institute will focus on generating baseline data regarding land, marine and air parameters related to the project.


The National Environmental Engineering Institute, Nagpur, will focus on the impact of the project over land through which the proposed channel passes, whereas the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, will concentrate on the cost-benefit analysis.


The proposed project had created several controversies with a section of the environmentalists opposing it. The Bharatiya Janata Party had opposed the dredging of Rama Sethu in connection with the project.


Scientific preparations


Scientific equipment for physical measurement of various parameters were installed in various stations in February. Automatic weather stations were established at Tuticorin and Mandapam for obtaining wind, rainfall and humidity data. Fifteen data collection stations each would be there at the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Bay, researchers said.


The groundwater quality in the region and the quality of land available for allied development projects will be assessed. In the marine research segment, details of the current and tide patterns and water quality parameters like dissolved oxygen content and presence of nitrates and phosphates will be tracked. The biological aspects like primary production and benthic life would also be studied. Air quality parameters, including the presence of harmful air pollutants and noise data, would be collected, scientists said.


Coral health


One of the key research areas would be monitoring of the coral health and the likely impact of the project on the fragile coral ecosystem in the region. The researchers would be looking for the stress proteins and enzymes produced by the corals for assessing its health.


http://www.hindu.com/2010/03/04/stories/2010030458660500.htm

Sethu project: Centre fails to give report

December 14, 2009 

The government on Monday failed to give a time-frame to place before the Supreme Court the report of the expert committee examining the feasibility of the controversial Sethusamudram project through Dhanuskodi instead of Rama Sethu.

However, the Centre said the preliminary report of the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), which according to the opponents of the project has doubted its feasibility, cannot be taken as final and binding on the expert committee headed by environmentalist R K Pachauri.

The affidavit, filed by the Ministry of Shipping, said the expert committee in its November 10 meeting had discussed the inputs provided by the NIO and further nominated it for conducting the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) in eighteen
months.
 

"Hence, at this juncture NIO's preliminary report cannot be taken as final and binding on the expert committee. In view of the decision of the expert committee taken in the meeting on November 10, the final report for the EIA has to be awaited before the Committee come to a final conclusion about the feasibility of the alternative alignment as the impact of environment is one of the most important aspects for the construction of channel," the affidavit said.

The government's stand was in response to an application moved by Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy seeking scrapping of the controversial Sethusamudram project claiming NIO, which is the expert body of government, has doubted its feasibility.

However, the Bench reminded Additional Solicitor General Harin Raval that it has been waiting for over 16 months for the report of the expert committee since it reserved its verdict on July 30, 2008, on the bunch of petitions challenging the execution of the project.

"We were informed that the expert committee will make an exhaustive study. Tell us how much time you will take to place the report," the Bench said adding "you must have discussed with the committee".

The ASG said he was not in touch with the committee but with the government and try to get the information.  "I will ask the government to get in touch with the Committee and whether it can come out with an interim report," Raval told the Bench.

The ASG suggested even NIO will take a year or so to collect data on EIA as the study of ocean for collecting data cannot be completed in three or four months.

Taking on record the government affidavit, the court posted the matter for further hearing on February 23 next.

The Supreme Court had asked the committee to examine the feasibility of carrying the scheme through alternative alignment running on land north of Dhanushkodi to avoid any damage to Rama Sethu.

It had on November 3 asked the government to convey its stand on a report of NIO which allegedly doubted the feasibility of the project.

The Pachauri Committee had outsourced the work of examining the feasibility of the project to NIO which had submitted its report to the government in March, Swamy had claimed. 
Sethusamudram project: Govt unable to give time-bound report.

 

http://news.rediff.com/report/2009/dec/14/ram-sethu-centre-fails-to-give-report.htm

 

Ram Sethu: No deadline for panel exploring new route

15 Dec, 2009, 0532 hrs IST, ET Bureau

NEW DELHI: The Centre on Monday appeared to be employing delaying tactics over the controversial Sethusamudram project when it refused to set a deadline for placing before the Supreme Court the report of the expert committee on feasibility of pushing the project through an alternative route. The Centre said the R K Pachauri headed expert committee could take a minimum of 18 more months to give its report. 

It said the preliminary report of the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), which has allegedly doubted the feasibility of the project, cannot be taken as final and binding on the expert panel. Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy had moved an application seeking scrapping of the Rs 2,400 crore Sethusamudram project saying that NIO has doubted its feasibility. 

The shipping ministry said in its affidavit said that the expert panel had deliberated on the NIO’s inputs and nominated it for an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) in 18 months. “Hence, at this juncture, the NIO’s preliminary report cannot be taken as final and binding on the expert committee. In view of the decision of the expert committee taken in the meeting on November 10, the final report for the EIA has to be awaited before the committee comes to a final conclusion about the feasibility of the alternative alignment as the impact of environment is one of the most important aspects for the construction of channel,” the affidavit said. 

The bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices R V Raveendran and J M Pancha, which wanted to know how much time the government will take to place the report, reminded Additional Solicitor General Harin Raval that it has been waiting for over 16 months for the report of the expert committee since it reserved its verdict on July 30, 2008, on the bunch of petitions challenging execution of the project. 

“We were informed that the expert committee will make an exhaustive study,” the bench said. The ASG said he was not in touch with the committee but will ask the government to find out from the committee if it can come out with an interim report. He said even the NIO will take around a year to collect data on EIA. 

The court posted the matter for further hearing on February 23. The Supreme Court had asked the committee to examine feasibility of the project through Dhanushkodi to avoid any damage to Rama Sethu. The Pachauri Committee had outsourced the work of examining the feasibility of the project to NIO.

 

http://m.economictimes.com/PDAET/articleshow/5338392.cms

 

PTI Monday, December 14, 2009 9:27:00 PM

Government today failed to give a time-frame to place before the Supreme Court the report of the expert committee examining the feasibility of the controversial Sethusamudram project through Dhanuskodi instead of Rama Setu.

However, the Centre said the preliminary report of the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), which according to the opponents of the project has doubted its feasibility, cannot be taken as final and binding on the expert committee headed by environmentalist R K Pachauri.

The affidavit, filed by the Ministry of Shipping, said the expert committee in its November 10 meeting had discussed the inputs provided by the NIO and further nominated it for conducting the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) in eighteen months.

"Hence, at this juncture NIO's preliminary report cannnot be taken as final and binding on the expert committee. In view of the decision of the expert committee taken in the meeting on Novemeber 10, the final report for the EIA has to be awaited before the Committee come to a final conclusion about the feasibility of the alternative alignement as the impact of environment is one of the most important aspects for the construction of channel," the affidavit said.
 
Government's stand was in response to an application moved by Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy seeking scrapping of the controversial Sethusamudram project claiming NIO, which is the expert body of government, has doubted its feasibility.

 

http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report_sethusamudram-project-govt-unable-to-give-time-bound-report_1323736

 

Protect Setusamudram ecology (Nov. 2009)


Swamy writes to PM over Sethu      

 

Thu, 18 Jun, 2009 , 03:18 PM (News Today)

.

Janata Party President Subramanian Swamy has asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to issue a directive putting the Sethusamudram Shipping Channel Project (SSCP) on hold till all analysis were carried out.

In a letter to Manmohan, a copy of which was released to media here, he claimed the SSCP was conceived and inaugurated without the Ministry of Shipping doing the basic tectonic survey and risk analysis about the possible effects of tectonic changes in Gulf of Manar and Palk Strait as stated by National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) in its report.
 

‘Kindly therefore issue this decisive directive that the SSCP has been put on hold till all the analysis is done and that there is no commitment to implement the project at all costs,’ Swamy said.

He said he had suggested an alternative to SSCP by converting Tuticorin port into an international container port, connecting to Calcutta by a railway line along coastal areas. ‘This is cost effective and would generate more employment’.

Work on SSCP has been stalled as Supreme Court has reserved its order on the project and appointed an expert Committee headed by noted environmentalist R K Pachauri. The court was moved on the grounds that the present alignment would damage the ‘Ramar sethu,’ a bridge believed to have been constructed by Lord Ram. 

Teaching at Harvard
Swamy said he was once again invited to teach Economics at Harvard University this summer semester, which starts from 22 June to 9 August.

He would teach mathematical methods in economics and economic development of India and China.

‘I will also visit Washington in mid-July to meet senior US officials to discuss  the post-LTTE situation in Sri Lanka’, he told reporters here.

He also said he had been invited to visit China again. ‘I will go to Beijing in September’, he said.

 

http://newstodaynet.com/printer.php?id=17605

Table NIO expert group report on Sethu: Swamy 

By Express News Service 
05 Jun 2009 03:05:00 AM IST

CHENANI: The Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project was being initiated without any study done on the potential impact of geological  changes on the canal, Janata Party president Dr Subramanian Swamy said on Thursday.
Union Shipping Minister G K Vasan’s statement that the “Sethu project gets completed as planned’’ amounted to contempt of court as the matter was still under judicial consideration, he told reporters here.
Swamy said the government should make public the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) expert group report on the project.
He said the report should be tabled in the parliament “so that all citizens would know what skullduggery took place in rushing the Sethu project for implementation by the former shipping minister T R Baalu.”
Swamy alleged that the former DMK Union minister had cleared the implementation of the Sethu project despite the NIO expert group and Dr R K Pachuri panel (in a report in March 2009) pointed out that it “was done without any study done on the potential impact of tectonic changes on the canal.”
“The report pointed out that during February 1948 to January 1949, tectonic changes led to the submergence of a part of Dhanushkodi town. It went on to recommend that an answer to this question was clearly needed to estimate the impact and viability of this project itself.’’ he said.
The expert group’s report, according to  Swamy, also recommended that “a full-fledged Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) be carried out to enable an assessment of the possible impact on the environment and on the marine biosphere reserve.’’
Alleging that Baalu approved the project in gross violation of government principles and for personal benefits, Swamy said the DMK MP should be prosecuted under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
Swamy, in a reminder to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, sought his sanction to prosecute IT and Communication Minister A Raja for the malafide allocation of 2 G spectrum.

http://www.expressbuzz.com/edition/print.aspx?artid=ObiMv|OTmIY=

Study of tectonic events impact on Setu canal impacts viability of the SSCP project -- NIO Expert Group


What is the impact of tectonic events on Setu canal? An answer may question viability of the SSCP project -- NIO Expert Group of Min. of Science and Technology; carry out full-fledged Environment Impact Assessment on alignments, impact on Marine Biosphere (Report of March 2009).

June 3, 2009.
 
Statement of Dr. Subramanian Swamy,
President of the Janata Party.

1. The Expert Group of the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) of the Ministry of  Science and Technology under the Prime Minister has informed the Government and the Dr. R.K. Pachauri Committee in a Report dated March  2009,  that the Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project (SSCP) as designed under the stewardship of Mr. T.R. Baalu, as Minister of Shipping, was  without “any study done on the potential impact of  tectonic events on the Sethusamudram Canal”. It points out that “during February 1948 to January 1949, tectonic events led to the submergence of a part of Dhanushkodi town”.  It goes on to recommend that “an answer to this question is clearly needed to estimate the impact and viability of this (SSCP) Project itself”.

2. A copy of the Expert Group Report was provided to me by an official of the PMO, but it should be made public by laying on the Table of Parliament so that all citizens can know what skullduggery took place in ramming the SSCP through for implementation by T.R. Baalu.

3. It may be recalled that the SSCP was stayed by the Supreme Court in August 2007 on my Writ Petition, and subsequently after long arguments, on July 31, 2008 the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Shri Balakrishnan directed the Government to consider an alternate route proposed by me, now designated Alignment No. 4A. This was being considered by the Pachauri Committee, which had referred the matter to the NIO for an expert opinion on feasibility of the alignments. The SSCP Alignment No.6 had required cutting through the Rama Setu, which was not acceptebale to the Supreme Court..

4. The said Report of the Expert Group of the NIO further censured the Ministry of Shipping for implementing the SSCP even as “there exists no baseline data to permit a  conclusive statement to be made regarding the potential impact of a switch in alignment (i.e., so as not to damage the Rama Setu), as asked for by the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India.”.

5. The Expert Group therefore recommends that “a full fledged EIA (Environment Impact Assessment) be carried out to enable an assessment of the possible impact of Alignment 4A, and indeed of Alignment 6 on the Marine Biosphere Reserve”. This would take another five years.

6. Mr. T.R. Baalu can now be prosecuted under the Prevention of Corruption Act along with all other officials and Ministers who approved the SSCP in gross violation of all canons and norms of government principles. His personal family pecuniary benefits from the SSCP would also come under the scanner. 
 
( SUBRAMANIAN  SWAMY )



Sethu project: TN BJP to launch counter campaign

18 Dec 2007, 2245 hrs IST, PTI

 

CHENNAI: Countering the DMK's decision to mobilise the youth for campaigning for the implementation of the Sethusamudram project, the BJP's Tamil Nadu unit on Tuesday said it would launch a village-level campaign to refute the ruling party's claims.

Rejecting the DMK's contention that the opposition to the project was unscientific,BJP state unit president L Ganesan told reporters here that his party would counter it by explaining that 31 per cent of the world's thorium reserves were located around Ram Setu.

"What will happen to the rich deposits of thorium, if 'Ram Sethu' is destroyed," he asked.

The DMK, at its recently-concluded youth wing conference in Tirunelveli, adopted a resolution, urging the Centre to hasten the completion of the project and asked its cadre to conduct a village-level campaign to build public opinion in favour of the project aimed at deepening the sea around the Palk Straits.

 

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/msid-2632311,prtpage-1.cms

 

 

Setusamudram as world heritage

http://sites.google.com/site/kalyan97/setu

23 March 2009

Respected Dr. Pachauri and members of the Pachauri Committee,

Re: Appeal to Pachauri Committee: alternatives to Setu channel project, declaration of Setusamudram as World Heritage

This is in continuation of my earlier notes to you which have not been acknowledged. I fondly hope that the details provided therein do merit careful deliberation by the Committee, in public interest and in fairness to ensure transparency in deliberations on a very important public interest issue.

I request that the Committee should recommend scrapping the Setu channel project completely and suggest looking for alternative economic development alternatives which will achieve the same developmental objectives effectively and economically.

The true alternatives to the Setu channel are:

1. Declaration of Marine Economic Zones all along the long coastline of India to provide for new opportunities to harness the Indian ocean resources upto 200 kms. from the coastline and to provide new employment opportunities to 20 crore people who live close to the coastline. The UN recognized Special Economic Zones should be the framework for creating the Marine Economic Zones with the privileges provided for SEZs. This should be complemented by the settling up of Marine cooperatives all along the coastline to provide for new life-opportunities for the coastal people.

2. Look upon the Setu channel idea as a transport system problem. The solutions will automatically emerge. Some suggestions are: a. expansion of Cochin port as a Container port of international standard; b. creation of Vizhinjam as an international standard container port using the deep sea harbour there; c. port-rail-road freight corridors linking the western and eastern ports and the hinterland of the nation to ensure promotion of shipping-rail-road coordination and efficient, effective delivery of transported goods; d. explore in consultation with Srilanka the possibility of rail-road links, across Setusamudram, between Colombo, Jaffna and Madurai/Chennai as part of the Trans-Asian Highway/Railway Network sponsored by the erstwhile ECAFE (UN Economic and Social Council); e. Promotion of ecotourism and coordinated steps by both India and Srilanka to protect the econologically fragile biosphere of the Setusamudram which is also sacred ecology; f. Recommend measures to protect the entire coastline close to Setusamudram in case of another tsunami (which has been declared by scientists as an imminent and present danger given the fragility of the Sunda plates close to a tectonically active area of the Indian ocean).

I hope the Committee will also see it fit to recommend that Setusamudram be declared as a World Heritage Monument given the unique nature of the ecosphere in this ocean zone -- an ecosphere unparalleled in the entire globe.

Thanking you for your consideration and hoping to receive a positive response.

Yours truly,

S. Kalyanaraman, Ph.D.
Former Sr. Exec., Asian Development Bank,
National President, Rameshwaram Ramasetu Protection Movement.
3 Temple Avenue, Chennai 600015
kalyan97@gmail.com

BJP to declare Ramsetu 'heritage monument' if it comes to power

22 Mar 2009, 1516 hrs IST, PTI

CHENNAI: BJP will declare the Ramasetu "a heritage monument," if the alliance led by the party would be voted to power at the Centre in the Lok Sabha polls, party's state unit said on Sunday.
BJP state unit president L Ganesan, in a statement here, alleged that if the alliance comprising the DMK came to power, "it will try to demolish" the Ramsetu.
The bridge, believed to have been constructed by Lord Ram, became a centre of controversy after Hindus opposed its demolition for the construction of Rs 2,400 crore Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project (SSCP).

While crediting former Prime Minister A B Vajpayee for issuing in-principle approval and taking up study for the implementation of the project, Ganesan claimed the plan was "altered" after the UPA Government took over.

"The DMK has assumed the matter as its policy failure and is adamant (in the implementation)," he said at an apparent reference to DMK president M Karunanidhi asking his party workers to inform people on the "roadblocks" created for the project.

"If another alliance comprising of the DMK comes to power, it will try to demolish the Ramsetu. But if a BJP-led combine is voted to power, the bridge will be declared a heritage monument of historical importance," he said.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/msid-4300167,prtpage-1.cms

To: Respected Dr. Pachauri and members of Pachauri Committee,

 

Forwarded herewith is the analysis made by Capt. H. Balakrishnan, IN (Retd.) who had commanded the INS Trishul, anti-missile frigate and has had a distinguished career in the Indian Navy. His analysis should be taken into account before the Committee makes any recommendation to the Govt. of India about any alternative alignment/s.

 

I am confident that the Committee will come to the conclusion to recommend cancellation of the Setu channel project altogether in the sacred Setusamudram world heritage zone.

 

The navigational hazards are precisely and succinctly analysed by Capt. Balakrishnan. I invite reference to the following sections of his lucid report. He notes certain impediments  to safe  navigation in the Setusamudram area. He had earlier presented in 8 parts on the cost-benefit analysis of Setu channel navigation and proved conclusively that the proposal for a channel does NOT make any nautical sense. In fact, it constitutes a nautical hazard of immense proportions in a complex, fragile, sacred oceansphere called Setusamudram.

 

"These impediments also have the potential to develop into hazardous situations for ships at sea…In the Palk Bay/ Palk Straits/ Gulf of Mannar area, the wind is of a swirling nature, and at the same time, on account of the 'Venturi effect', caused by the geography of the area, the wind velocity tends to be high…However, if the winds  were to blow across the axis of the channel, the ships, navigating through the channel are subjected to 'drift' away from their courses steered. The  larger the ships cross-section offered to the wind, the greater and  more rapid will be the drift. The, probability of this happening is borne out  by the above referred  table in the 'Bay of Bengal Pilot'…

"Many of the fishing vessels, specially the small country boats, fail to display  lights at  night. They spread their nets and  keep it afloat with small thermocole floats. Because of their small size, they are difficult to be sighted visually, and are not radar reflective. Thus they constitute a  clear  and present danger to shipping. In the unfortunate event of a ship running over these nets, they get cut and coil around the propellor shaft, warranting "emergency procedures", on board the vessel. In a channel like the SSCP, it's a positively hazardous situation for the vessel…

"With shallow waters (less than 10 metres) prevailing outside the 'dredged channel', this drift could turn hazardous for a large vessel. The only method to counter this drift is to increase speed. But the adverse effects of the "Shallow Water or Squat Effect" precludes the increase in speed.    If ships were to deploy tugs to counter the drift, then the 'speed made good' through the SSCP reduces. This leads to an increase in time taken to navigate through the SSCP and thus an increase in the overall voyage time. Fuel consumption for the voyage increases as also the voyage fuel costs, thus reducing the savings in fuel costs… 

"Proximity to Land   The  SSCP is an "open channel"  unlike  the Suez and Panama Canals. For a large vessel, like a 30,000 DWT bulk carrier, approaching within 10 nautical miles of land is not considered prudent navigation when on passage. Yet, in the  case of the "New Alignment", the vessel approaches within 3.5 nautical miles of the "Kodandaramaswami Temple", and  less than 5.0 nautical miles off "Devil's Point". Large vessels proceeding at slow speeds, as is warranted in the SSCP, are extremely tardy in their response to engine and helm orders. Thus, navigating in close proximity of land with slow responses, and in conditions of cross wind, could risk vessel safety. This possibility cannot be ruled out. Comment  From the standpoint of navigational safety, the area of location of the SSCP, is a cause for disquiet. Viewed  against this backdrop, one is left wondering- " whether a shipping channel is meant to cater to the needs  of shipping in its entirety OR whether the shipping is meant to cater to the  needs of the channel... 

"My research  into the SSCP, from a shipping perspective, has clearly reveled that the "SSCP just does not make any nautical sense". TIME IS AT HAND TO CEASE THINKING ABOUT SENDING SHIPS IN 'HARM'S WAY' – 'THE SSCP WAY'. "

 

We will be happy to provide any additional info. needed for the Committee's deliberations.

 

namaskaram.

 

Dr. S. Kalyanaraman,

Former Sr. Exec., Asian Development Bank,

kalyan97@gmail.com 

 

pachauri@teri.res.in      Dr. RK Pachauri

director@neeri.res.in Dr. Tapan Chakrabarti

shetye@nio.org  Dr. SR Shetye

kathir@niot.res.in Dr. N. Kathiroli

inho@dataone.in inho_helpdesk@dataone.in (Attn. Rear Admiral BR Rao)

p.tejale@gsi.gov.in (Attn. Dr. PM Tajale, DG, GSI)

 

SSCP: ANALYZING THE  VIABILITY  OF A

"NEW ALIGNMENT" AS AN ALTERNATIVE TO THE EXISTING "6 ALIGNMENTS" -

PART – 9

 

By

 

Capt (Retd) H.  Balakrishnan, I.N

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

 

1.         During the course of the recent arguments in the Supreme Court  of India in end July 2008, the SSCP and 'Ram Sethu',  Their  Lordships of the Three Judge  Bench, had evinced interest in an "alternate alignment" to the proposed "Alignment No:6 ". Their  contention  was, if such an alignment was feasible, then the 'Ram Sethu' is left untouched, and,  at the same time, the SSCP becomes feasible . 

2.         This   paper analyses an "alternate alignment" from the standpoint  of economic viability and navigational feasibility.

3.         As the navigational co-ordinates of the "new alignment" are not known, this writer has proceeded, after a study of the relevant navigational  charts, as also on the basis of media reports of the honourable  Judges observations in the Supreme Court.

THE NEW ALIGNMENT

4.         This "new  alignment" as observed by the honourable Judges of the Supreme Court, passes 0.5 nautical miles (nm) or 1000 yards or 5 cables (1cable = 200yards), due East of the reference  marked as "Lands End" on  charts 358- "Approaches to   Palk Bay" and 262- "Cape Comerin to Pamban" (off Dhanushkodi),  respectively. It also passes about 3 cables (600 yards) to the West of the commencement of the portion marked as "Adams Bridge" on the same charts.

TIME AND DISTANCE CALCULATIONS

Voyage Kolkata to Tuiticorin

5.Distance-Kolkata  to Tuiticorin circumnavigating Sri Lanka = 1380nm

6.Distance-Kolkata  to Tuiticorin via SSCP "new alignment" = 1005nm

(Note: It is assumed that the length of the SSCP remains unchanged at 167.2kms or 104nm, 300 metres wide and 12 metres  dredged depth.)        

7. Voyage Time - Kolkata  to Tuiticorin circumnavigating

    Sri Lanka@12knots  =     115 hours(h)

 

8.  Voyage Time – Kolkata to Tuiticorin via SSCP at Speeds of 12knots in  "Open Sea" and 8 knots through SSCP:

  (a) Open Sea Distance  of (1005 -104nm) 901nm @ 12knots  = 75.08h

 (b) Time taken to  transit SSCP @ 8 knots    =  13.0n

 (c) Total voyage time  =  88.08h

 

9. Voyage Time - Kolkata to Tuiticorin via SSCP at speed of 12 knots in "Open   Sea" and 6 knots  through SSCP:

     (a) Open Sea Distance  of (1005 -104nm) 901nm @ 12 knots  =  75.08h

    (b) Time taken to transit SSCP@ 6 knots =  17.30h

    (c) Total voyage time =  92.38h

 

10.     Savings in  voyage distances and times, vis-à-vis circumnavigating Sri Lanka,   are as follows:

            (a)  Voyage Distance   =  375nm

            (b)  Voyage Time @ 8 knots through SSCP =  26.92h

            (c)  Voyage Time @6 knots through SSCP  =  22.62h

(Note: With 1 hour each for Pilot embarkation / disembarkation, the times at Paras 10 (b) and (c) above will reduce by 2 hours)

 

COST BENEFIT ANALYSIS

11.       For ease of comparison of voyage fuel costs between "Alignment No:6" and the current one under examination, the I.O.C tariff at Chennai, as prevailing on 01 March 2008, is taken. These were as follows per Metric  Tonne (MT):-

(a)       Heavy Oil(H.O)   =          Rs. 27,313 + 4% VAT

                                     =          Rs. 28,405.5 per MT

(b)       High Speed Diesel (HSD)  =  Rs. 27,384 +23.43% VAT

                                                  =  Rs. 33,800 per MT

12.       Fuel consumption rates are taken as an average of 1MT per hour of motoring  for both types of fuel.

 

Fuel Consumption

 

13. Fuel consumption circumnavigating Sri Lanka (H.O) =  115M.T.

14. Fuel consumption while navigating through SSCP at 8 knots:

(a)  Open Sea segment (HO)       =  75.08M.T

(b)  SSCP segment (HSD)      =  13.00 M.T

(c)  Add, 1M.T.  of HSD for unforeseen contingency in  restricted  waters  =  1.00M.T.

(d) Total fuel consumption = 75.08 (H.O)+14.00(HSD)

 

15.       Fuel consumption while navigating through SSCP at 6 knots:

(a)       Open Sea segment (HO)  =  75.08M.T

(b)       SSCP segment (HSD) =  17.30 M.T

(c)       Add, 1M.T.  of HSD for unforeseen

            contingency in restricted waters  =  1.00M.T.

(d)       Total fuel consumption  =  75.08 (H.O)+18.3 (HSD)

 

Voyage Fuel Costs

 

16. Fuel costs circumnavigating Sri Lanka (H.O) = Rs. 115X28,405,.5

                                                                       = Rs. 32,66,632.5

17. Fuel costs while navigating through  SSCP @ 8 knots:

            (a)     Open Sea (H.O)      =       Rs. 75.08X28,405.5

                                            =       Rs. 21,32,684.94

         (b)     SSCP (HSD)       =       Rs. 14X33,800.00

                                            =       Rs. 4,73,200.00

         (c)     Total fuel costs (a+b)   =       Rs. 26,05,884.94

 

18.       Fuel costs while navigating through  SSCP @ 6 knots:

            (a)       Open Sea (H.O)        =       Rs. 75.08X28,405.5

                                               =       Rs. 21,32,684.94

          (b)     SSCP (HSD)         =       Rs. 18.3 X 33,800.00

                                                =       Rs. 6,18,540.00

          (c)     Total fuel costs (a+b)    =       Rs. 27,51,224.94

 

Voyage Fuel Cost Savings

 

19.       Savings in fuel costs between circumnavigating Sri Lanka and navigating through SSCP @ 8 knots  = Rs. 32,66,632.5- Rs. 26,05,884.94

                                                  =  Rs. 6,60,747.56

 

20.       Savings in fuel costs between circumnavigating Sri Lanka and navigating through SSCP @ 6 knots   =  Rs. 32,66,632.5- Rs. 27,51,224.94

                                                  =  Rs. 5,15,407.56

50% of Fuel Costs Savings

 

21. 50% of Para 19 above   =       Rs. 3,30,373.78

22. 50% of Para 20 above   =       Rs. 2,57,703.78

 

23        The  rationale for Paras 21 and 22 above can be found in Chapter 8, Para 8.27, in the 'Report' submitted by the 'Committee of Eminent Persons', which stated: "The approach followed by the consultants to propose tariff @ 75% of savings in one of the alternatives, may result in a scenario  where the  channel charges maybe higher than the savings. As the tariff rate @ 50% of savings has been proposed, in base case I.R.R., such a situation has been  avoided. However, the savings to some ships will be more than 50%, while for some, it will be lower".

24.       Comment      Appendix A to PART-7- "Analysing  the Economic Viability of the SSCP from a Shipping  Perspective on the Basis of Official Reports", calculates the annual income that ought to be generated by the Sethusamudram Corporation Ltd. (SCL), at a conservative estimate, to defray its annual expenditure burden.

25.       On that basis, the tariff to be levied per ship worked out to Rs. 3.89 lakhs in the First Year of operation of the SSCP. However, if 50% of the fuel costs savings were to be levied as tariff for using the SSCP (Paras 21 and 22 above), then it is evident that the SSCP will incur a loss in its First Year of operation itself. And,  this loss will continue through the remaining years of its existence.

26.       However, if tariff rates for using the SSCP were to be brought in line with that charged by the major ports in India, then the shipping companies will incur a loss.

27.       It is therefore safe to conclude that none of the proposed alignments  will prove to be economically viable if 50% of the savings in fuel costs were to be levied as tariff.

SSCP AND IMPEDIMENTS TO SAFE NAVIGATION

28.       A detailed examination of the navigational charts of the area, along with a reading of the climatology section of the "Bay of Bengal Pilot", coupled with the experience of this writer in commanding an Offshore Support Vessel (OSV) in this area, brings to light certain impediments  to safe  navigation in the area. These impediments also have the potential to develop into hazardous situations for ships at sea. These are summarized in the succeeding paragraphs.

29.       Wind    The  wind observation  tables in the "Bay of Bengal Pilot" for Nagapatinam ( in  close proximity to the Palk Bay /Palk Sraits), reveals that throughout the year, the wind blows from all points of the compass. In the Palk Bay/ Palk Straits/ Gulf of Mannar area, the wind is of a swirling nature, and at the same time, on account of the 'Venturi effect', caused by the geography of the area, the wind velocity tends to be high.

30.       High wind speeds, by itself, does not constitute a navigational risk. In the case of the SSCP also, if the  winds  were to blow along  the  axis of the Channel,  ships navigating the channel would not be hampered. However, if the winds  were to blow across the axis of the channel, the ships, navigating through the channel are subjected to 'drift' away from their courses steered. The  larger the ships cross-section offered to the wind, the greater and  more rapid will be the drift. The, probability of this happening is borne out  by the above referred  table in the 'Bay of Bengal Pilot'.

31.       With shallow waters (less than 10 metres) prevailing outside the 'dredged channel', this drift could turn hazardous for a large vessel. The only method to counter this drift is to increase speed. But the adverse effects of the "Shallow Water or Squat Effect" precludes the increase in speed. (Para 21 (H) of Part-2 refers).

32.       If ships were to deploy tugs to counter the drift, then the 'speed made good' through the SSCP reduces. This leads to an increase in time taken to navigate through the SSCP and thus an increase in the overall voyage time. Fuel consumption for the voyage increases as also the voyage fuel costs, thus reducing the savings in fuel costs.

33.       To substantiate the aspect of high wind velocities in  the area, a news snippet in 'The  New Indian Express- Chennai' of 11 August 2008 reads: "WIND SWEPT SAND COVERS ROAD. RAMESWARAM- Strong winds have resulted in sand covering parts of the Rameswaram – Dhanushkodi Road, making travel even by four wheelers  difficult, officials said. They said, the wind blowing at 55  Km   an hour, had also uprooted some casurina trees, planted along the sea coast. The sea off Dhanushkodi was rough and people have been banned  from taking bath, they said, adding that fisherman were also finding it difficult to net fish in the choppy seas". This phenomenon  was on account of a "Depression" off the Orissa  Coast. Every time a pressure system forms over  the Bay of Bengal, high  winds can be anticipated in the Gulf of Mannar/Palk Bay/Palk Straits area. This could hamper ships navigating through the SSCP.

34.       The fact of the matter is that the above report pertains to the area of the "New Alignment" in particular and SSCP in general.

35.       Fishing Vessels All  the proposed alignments of the SSCP pass through the fishing grounds  of the local fishing community. At a seminar in Chennai on 07 May 2007, conducted by an autonomous think-tank- 'Observer  Research Foundation'- with the theme "Coastal Development and Coastal Security",  the Naval Officer-in-Charge (Tamil Nadu) and the Commander, Coast Guard Region (East), spoke about the high density of fishing vessels in the Rameswaram to Kachatheevu Island axis. They also highlighted  the difficulties faced by Naval and Coast Guard Vessels in ensuring maritime security,  on account of the fishing vessels traffic.

36.       The foregoing also has an adverse impact on the general navigational safety for vessels playing through the SSCP. This problem gets accentuated  at night. Many of the fishing vessels, specially the small country boats, fail to display  lights at  night. They spread their nets and  keep it afloat with small thermocole floats. Because of their small size, they are difficult to be sighted visually, and are not radar reflective. Thus they constitute a  clear  and present danger to shipping.

37.       In the unfortunate event of a ship running over these nets, they get cut and coil around the propellor shaft, warranting "emergency procedures", on board the vessel. In a channel like the SSCP, it's a positively hazardous situation for the vessel.

38.       Proximity to Land   The  SSCP is an "open channel"  unlike  the Suez and Panama Canals. For a large vessel, like a 30,000 DWT bulk carrier, approaching within 10 nautical miles of land is not considered prudent navigation when on passage. Yet, in the  case of the "New Alignment", the vessel approaches within 3.5 nautical miles of the "Kodandaramaswami Temple", and  less than 5.0 nautical miles off "Devil's Point". Large vessels proceeding at slow speeds, as is warranted in the SSCP, are extremely tardy in their response to engine and helm orders. Thus, navigating in close proximity of land with slow responses, and in conditions of cross wind, could risk vessel safety. This possibility cannot be ruled out.

39.       Comment  From the standpoint of navigational safety, the area of location of the SSCP, is a cause for disquiet. Viewed  against this backdrop, one is left wondering- " whether a shipping channel is meant to cater to the needs  of shipping in its entirety OR whether the shipping is meant to cater to the  needs of the channel ". 

CONCLUSION

40.       The Union Ministry of Environment  & Forests, vide its Letter No. J-16011/6/99-1A-III, dated 08 April 1999, had recommended the  scrapping  of the project from an environmental  perspective.

41.       My research  into the SSCP, from a shipping perspective, has clearly reveled that the "SSCP just does not make any nautical sense".

42.       TIME IS AT HAND TO CEASE THINKING ABOUT SENDING SHIPS IN "HARM'S WAY" – "THE SSCP WAY".  

REFERENCES

(A)             Bay of Bengal Pilot

(B)             Chart No: 7706 – Bay of Bengal

(C)             Chart No: 358 – Approaches to Palk Bay

(D)            Chart No: 262 – Cape Comerin to Pamban

 hbalakrishnan@yahoo.com 

 

Where science meets spirituality

Kumar Chellappan (Deccan Chronicle, 31 Jan. 2009)

There is going to be a confluence of science and spirituality at Rameswaram. Starting February 4, visitors to Rameswaram will get a panoramic view of the Bay of Bengal and some of the exotic uninhabited islands thanks to a high power telescope installed at the Vivekananda Memorial at Kundhukal near Pamban. The US-built Cassegrain telescope which costs Rs 1.5 lakh has been installed by Tamil Nadu Science and Technology Centre, Chennai.

“This telescope is capable of magnifying the images 100 times over. It offers a crystal clear view of the adjoining islands, birds, Dhanushkodi and the ships and fishing boats passing through the Bay of Bengal,” S Soundararaja Perumal, joint director, TNSTC, told Deccan Chronicle. He said Muyaltheevu and Kurusadai islands frequented by fishermen could be clearly seen through the telescope.

It is a dream come true for descendents of Raja Bhaskara Sethupathi, at whose request Swami Vivekananda undertook the 1893 trip to USA. The Vivekananda Memorial has been built to commemorate Vivekananda’s return to India. “The Swamiji returned to India in 1897 via Sri Lanka. He landed at Kundhukal in Ramanathapuram district where he was received by Raja Bhaskara Sethupathi, the then king of Ramanathapuram," said Raja Kumaran Sethu pathi, the reigning head of the Sethupathi royal family at Rameswaram.

The kings of Ramnad were the traditional custodians of Ram Sethu, the historical bridge built by Lord Rama and the monkey brigade. It is said the title Sethupathi was conferred on them by Lord Rama himself.

Swamy Sudhananda, the head of the Ramakrishna Mutt at Rameswaram, said Swami Vivekananda stayed at Rameswaram for a couple of days as a guest of King Sethupathi and gave a spiritual discourse. “The house where he stayed is being renovated and rebuilt as a hall named Vivekanda Bhaskaram,” said the monk. A nine and half feet tall statue of Vivekananda has also been installed at the memorial. Both the memorial and the hall have been constructed by the union government and the Ramakrishna Mutt.

http://www.dc-epaper.com/DC/DCC/2009/01/31/ArticleHtmls/31_01_2009_004_009.shtml?Mode=0

Environment and Ecology in the Ramayana
A study of flora & fauna and comparison of the same with the description in Ramayana (Source: Indian Journal of History of Science, 40.1 (2005 9-29)
http://www.new.dli.ernet.in/rawdataupload/upload/insa/INSA_1/2000c950-9.pdf
Rama Setu saved the coastline south of Nagapattinam as may be seen from the fact that the highest amplitude waves (over 250 cms.) were deflected by the Setu.
http://library.buffalo.edu/libraries/asl/guides/indian-ocean-disaster.html




 

Rama Setu, sacred ecology of the Sethusamudram (15 Dec. 2008)

http://www.scribd.com/doc/8966434/setusamudram2

Make Gulf of Mannar a sacred site, say conservationists

Trevor Grundy (12 Dec., 2008)

http://www.eni.ch/photos/gulfmannar8.jpeg
Fishing boats in Gulf of Mannar. Photo: Living Planet Foundation.


London (ENI). The Alliance of Religions and Conservation, known as ARC, is backing a call for the United Nations, the World Bank, non-governmental groups and conservation bodies to recognise the Gulf of Mannar - between India and Sri Lanka - as a World Heritage Sacred Site. 

The gulf is one of the world's last remaining intact ecosystems and home of the Ram Sethu, which was known as Adam's Bridge during the time of British colonisation. 

Legend has it that Adam, the first human being according to the sacred texts of Christians, Jews and Muslims, walked on the bridge, a chain of limestone shoals, not long after the dawn of Creation. 

"This is the one place in the world, other than the Garden of Eden, where we can say, 'this is a sacred site which reminds us of our relationship and our responsibility with the rest of creation'. It is mythologically and ecologically about as sacred as you can get," said Martin Palmer, secretary general of ARC, a secular body that helps the major religions of the world develop their own environmental programmes. 

"The Gulf of Mannar should be nominated as one of the very first internationally significant Sacred Sites along with the Sacred Mountains of China and other such hugely holy and hugely ecologically places," Palmer told Ecumenical News International. 

Palmer spoke in late November at a two-day meeting to support a World Campaign to Save the Gulf of Mannar, a shallow stretch of water separating India from Sri Lanka. 

Some 100 ecologists, academics, scientists and religious leaders from around the world who met on 25 and 26 November had sought to provide enough multi-disciplinary evidence to persuade the governments of India and Sri Lanka to ask the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization to designate the gulf a World Heritage Site. 

A conference spokesperson said that despite its important ecological and cultural significance as one of South Asia's largest biosphere reserves, the Indian government aims to build a shipping channel - the Sethusamudram Ship Channel - through the gulf, threatening endangered plant and animal species there, as well as the livelihood of local fisherfolk. The project is currently part of a legal battle in India's Supreme Court. 

Located on the south eastern tip of the subcontinent, the Gulf of Mannar has more 3600 species of flora and fauna, making it one of the richest coastal regions in Asia. 

Palmer noted, "At the moment, we are in a classic struggle - to use Christian terminology - between God and Mammon. It's a historic struggle between those who see the world as a struggle upon which a drama of cosmological significance is played out, and those who see the planet as a large supermarket to be raided." 
Millions of Hindus believe that the bridge was lifted up to allow Lord Rama to cross from India to Sri Lanka to rescue his wife who had been imprisoned by a demon king. 

In an interview with ENI, Anil Bhanot, who heads the Hindu Council of Great Britain, said: "The call to make the Gulf of Mannar a Sacred Site pleases us enormously. It is, of course, a site sacred to Muslims as well as to Hindus and the call in London pleases us all because this is something that unites us all." 

:: Alliance of Religions and Conservation: www.arcworld.org/ 

http://www.eni.ch/featured/article.php?id=2561



Aceh island which has vanished after December 26, 2004 tsunami.

Setusamudram


Rama Setu, sacred ecology of Setusamudram

 

Dr. S. Kalyanaraman

National President, Rameshwaram Rama Setu Protection Movement

kalyan97@gmail.com

http://newstodaynet.com/col.php?section=20&catid=29 15 December, 2008 (News Today) 

In a heartening development catalysed by the Movement, a group of scientists gathered in London in November 2008 to declare the imperative of saving and protecting Setusamudram as the world’s sacred ecological treasure.

Location map of Rama Setu: bathymetry map of Setusamudram (reproduced from Murty et al., 1994)

 

http://www.Setusamudram.in/htmdocs/Articles/cp_rajendran_2.htm

Setusamudram

The Gulf of Mannar and Palk Straits of the Indian Ocean separated by the causeway, Rama Setu is called Setusamudram. Setusamudram is a compound term: Setu + Samudram (Causeway + Ocean). Unlike the Great Barrier Reef of Australia, the Setu has for millennia served as a causeway linking India and Sri Lanka. This sacred monument is venerated in the cultures of millions of people of many nations along the Indian Ocean Rim – nations which can be called the Indian Ocean Community, analogous to the recently constituted European Community. The Setusamudram is so sacred that every year hundreds of thousands pilgrims assemble in the oceanfront near Rameshwaram (a jyotirlinga pilgrimage place) to perform samudrasnanam (sacred bath in the ocean) at a place where the Indian Ocean remains placid like a lake. This samudrasnanam is a celebration of and a homage to the ancestors of many civilizations, hindu civilization, in particular. This homage is called pitr-tarpanam reinforcing the identity of a billion people on the globe who revere the story of Rama and the history of Setubandha (the bund to cross the ocean built by the architect Nala, under the direction of the avatarapurusha, Sri Rama and by vanara army led by Sri Hanuman. Both Sri Rama and Sri Hanuman are worshipped in many temples across the globe. [vanara is erroneously translated as ‘monkeys’; va-nara literally means people-like speakers, evoking the evolution of man on earth.] The causeway is a physical structure superimposed over a ridge formed by collapsed canyons in geological past in an ocean zone exemplified by Mannar volcanic rocks, heat-flows of geothermal energy potential and plate tectonics (earthquakes caused by plate-movements).

Heatflow in Rama Setu 100 to 180 milliwatt per sq. m. comparable to Himalayan hotsprings. Will dredging in the area activate these heat zones?

Corals of Setusamudram

Setusamudram is home to corals. The coral conglomerates which are referred to as floating stones in many versions of the story of Sri Rama were used to construct the causeway, Setu (which is explained in Tamil encyclopaedia Abhidana Chintamani as ‘ceyarkarai’ that is, artificial, man-made bund). Setubandha is celebrated in ancient texts, in the song, dance and sculptural traditions of the Indian Ocean Rim states.

Setubandha construction shown on a 9th century sculptural panel in Parambanan (Brahmavana) temple in Indonesia.

The devastation warned, affecting over 60 million people should make every public official and scientist pause and consider the sacred ecology that Setusamudram constitutes. Over the millennia, people have venerated the Indian Ocean as a life-source. Many young, married couples go for the samudrasnanam praying for the birth of children in their families. Millions of marine folk along the long 7,500 km coastline of India live off the marine wealth of the coastline including the wealth of corals. Corals have a particular sacred significance in Hindu civilizational traditions. The shankha or turbinella pyrum is also called the sacred conch. This sacred conch, shankha, adorns the hands of Vishnu and Bhairava, two divinities worshipped in thousands of temples all over the world. The shankha is also venerated as the conch-trumpet called Panchajanya used by avatara purusha Sri Krishna to call the troops to battle in the Kurukshetra war described in the epic Mahabharata. Sri Rama is also shown blowing the shankha trumpet in an exuiquite terracotta sculpture of the 3rd century in a village near Ayodhya.

 

Terracotta panel of Bhitargaon showing Vishnu blowing the conch, an event depicting Rama as Vishnu avatara, defeats the rakshasas led by Malyavan, Mali and Sumali and as narrated in the Uttarkanda of the Ramayana (Cantoes VI-VIII). http://ignca.nic.in/pb0020.htm

Quake-induced uplift of coral families in Sumatra Mentawai islands.

 

Setusamudram is an Indian Ocean region famous for the coral turbinella pyrum, shankha. At The devastation warned, affecting over 60 million people should make every public official and scientist pause and consider the sacred ecology that Setusamudram constitutes. Over the millennia, people have venerated the Indian Ocean as a life-source. Many young, married couples go for the samudrasnanam praying for the birth of children in their families. Millions of marine folk along the long 7,500 km coastline of India live off the marine wealth of the coastline including the wealth of corals. Corals have a particular sacred significance in Hindu civilizational traditions. The shankha or turbinella pyrum is also called the sacred conch. This sacred conch, shankha, adorns the hands of Vishnu and Bhairava, two divinities worshipped in thousands of temples all over the world. The shankha is also venerated as the conch-trumpet called Panchajanya used by avatara purusha Sri Krishna to call the troops to battle in the Kurukshetra war described in the epic Mahabharata. Sri Rama is also shown blowing the shankha trumpet in an exuiquite terracotta sculpture of the 3rd century in a village near Ayodhya.

 

Terracotta panel of Bhitargaon showing Vishnu blowing the conch, an event depicting Rama as Vishnu avatara, defeats the rakshasas led by Malyavan, Mali and Sumali and as narrated in the Uttarkanda of the Ramayana (Cantoes VI-VIII). http://ignca.nic.in/pb0020.htm

Quake-induced uplift of coral families in Sumatra Mentawai islands.

Setusamudram is an Indian Ocean region famous for the coral turbinella pyrum, shankha. At Kizhakkarai, 15 kms. from Rameshwaram, West Bengal Development Corporation has an office for acquiring the shankha; the annual turnover is over Rs. 50 million ($1 million). The shankha is used to make bangles. Without shankha bangles, no Bengali or Oriya marriage is complete. So sacred are the shankha bangles.

Studies of the type carried out in Mentawai Islands near Sumatra have to be carried out in Setusamudram to record the upliftment, if any, of the coral reefs, in the region which is earth-quake prone, apart from being the only coastal region with evidence of Mannar volcanic rocks and heat-flows comparable to the heat-flows recorded in the sub-Himalayan hot-springs.

Setu as tsunami-protection wall

The Setu has served as a natural tsunami-protection wall in an ocean zone subject to many earthquakes and consequent tsunamis. The nearby region of Sumatra is also home to the world’s most devastating volcano, the Mount Toba which had a super-eruption about 74,000 years ago spewing volcanic ash to a depth of 6 to 12 inches all over South India south of the Vindhya mountains.

The Bay of Bengal part of the Indian Ocean is a trough subject to recurring, severe cyclonic storms from the area of depression near Taiwan. The storm surges get sucked into the trough of Bangladesh causing enormous damage to lives and properties. The tsunami which occurred on December 26, 2004 was an event triggered by the subduction of the Indian plate under the Burmese plate resulting in the displacement of water which surreptiously travelled as tsunami resulting in the loss of over 200,000 lives and the virtual disappearance of Aceh island. A tsunami expert, Prof. Tad S. Murthy notes that if any channel is laid across Setusamudram, the channel will act like a funnel absorbing the energies of the next tsunami and devastate the coastline of South India because of what is known as the ‘quarter-wave resonance amplification’. This is proved by the Alaska tsunami of 1964 which resulted in maximum devastation along the Alberni Canal in Canada and the destruction of the Alberni Port.

The sentiments expressed in the London seminar echoe the judgement of the Supreme Court of India which asked the Union of India to reconsider the Setusamudram Channel project and noted that a Pachauri Committee will go study the issue. Prof. Rajendra Pachauri heads the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an institution which received the Nobel Prize for Peace. Pachauri Committee should not only recommend the scrapping of the Setusamudram Channel project which will be a world calamity if carried through, but also recommend a serious, multi-disciplinary agency to study the impact of another tsunami in the Indian Ocean. Another tsunami in the Indian Ocean is not a theoretical model but a reality. Scientific advances have not been able to predict the exact date of the next tsunami but all scientists are agreed that another tsunami more devastating than the December 26, 2004 tsunami is a possibility.

This nightmare warning, this possibility has been studied by seismologists (researchers of earthquakes) and earth scientists studying corals. In a recent study published in the Science Magazine (December 16, 2008) scientists have observed that many coral colonies in the Mentawai Islands near Sumatra were killed in September 2007 when large earthquakes lifted the reefs 1 meter or more out of the water. Seismology studies show that an earthquake of magnitude greater than 8.8 on Richter scale, could rock the coastal areas of Bengkulu and Padang in the next 30 years (along the Sumatra earthquake belt), triggering a major tsunami which could put over 60 million people of the Indian Ocean, east coast of India, west coast of Burma and south coast of Bangladesh at risk. 

Pachauri Committee will also be well-advised to review the creation of Marine Economic Zones all along the long 7500 km. coastline of India to create new economic opportunities for the coastal and marine people.

Tsunami-protection wall in Japan

A multi-disciplinary team of experts should be constituted IMMEDIATELY, by the Union of India to study the warnings of another tsunami which will devastate the nation’s coastline and lives and property of coastal people and establish Disaster Management Zones all along the vulnerable coastline with structures like tsunami-protection walls constructed in Japan.

Next tsunami

Sacred traditions help us remember the sacredness of the earth in which we are only trustees of the present and future generations. We do NOT have the right to destroy this sacred ecology and deny future generations, the privilege of worshipping sacred sites and remembering the ancestors who have given the humanity its very identity.

Indian Ocean Rim states impacted by the tsunami of December 26, 2004

http://nctr.pmel.noaa.gov/propagation-database.html

The next tsunami is likely to impact the same Indian Ocean region – a lesson learnt from history.

List and locations of catastrophic tsunamis of Indian Ocean

What the scientists tell us about earthquakes and tsunamis should make us pause and ponder.

The 9.0 Earthquake of December 26, 2004 at 6.58 hours at the epicenter (and in Sri Lanka) led to a sequence of 15 quakes across the Andaman region. While earthquakes could not be predicted in advance, once the earthquake was detected it was possible to give about 3 hours of notice of a potential Tsunami. Such a system of warnings is in place across the Pacific Ocean but is only being put in place in the Indian Ocean; this needs further cooperation among the nations of the Indian Ocean Community.

Nature magazine reports: “Tens of millions of people along the heavily populated coasts of Myanmar, Bangladesh and West Bengal could be living under threat of a tsunami as massive as the one that devastated the Sumatran coast in 2004, according to a report to be released by Nature on Thursday this week. The report claims that while the 2004 disaster took the scientific community by surprise many of the same warning signs currently exist in the Bay of Bengal.”

When the plate boundaries abruptly deform and vertically displace the overlying water, a tsunami occurs. A tsunami travels very fast as ocean waves, about 800 km/h, or 0.2 km/sec for a water depth of 5000 m. Seismic waves are faster and cause enormous upheavals on the earth’s crust and ocean-beds. Oceans are the treasure of humanity and it is our responsibility to harness the treasure in a sustainable manner through well-regulated Marine Economic Zones which have the potential to make the Indian Ocean Community a veritable powerhouse to create wealth of nations, while providing new livelihoos opportunities to over 2 billion people on the globe.

Tsunami impact on land cover of Indian Ocean Community

http://www.unosat.web.cern.ch/unosat/freeproducts/Tsunami/JRC/Asia_Tsunami_07January_landcover.pdf

http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/fullMaps_Sa.nsf/luFullMap/1724ADB850F3F30B85256F8E0055AB65/$File/EUJRC_tsu_cov_sasia070105.pdf?OpenElement Land cover / potential land affected by tsunami (26 December, 2004)

Details of scientific papers on “Sacred ecology, sacred ocean, sacred Setusamudram” are provided at http://sites.google.com/site/kalyan97/setu 

Dr. S. Kalyanaraman

Kalyan97@gmail.com

12 December 2008

Tsunami potential


Sacred ecology, sacred ocean, sacred Setusamudram

India urged to drop Sethu project

 

Press Trust of India

 

London (12 Dec. 2008, New Indian Express)

 

ASKING India to shelve the controversial Sethusamudram project as it could damage the productive marine eco-system, an international group of environmentalists has suggested the Gulf of Mannar region should be declared a cultural and natural world heritage site.

Requesting President of India Pratibha Patil to cancel the Sethusamudram shipping canal project, the ecologists and environmentalists group claimed that the Government’s decision to go ahead with the project, was based on legal flaws and would have inevitable and disastrous ecological and social impact.

“The project could disrupt and damage the productive marine ecosystem through a massive increase in the burden of silting and sedimentation,” the group said adding, it will also affect coral reefs, sea grass beds, oyster beds and food fisheries.

They said that the salinisation of the shallow aquifers on both sides of the channel could endanger and even lead to the extinction of the important local species, including dugong, green turtle and at least 25 different species of sea snake, resulting in collapse of the entire ecosystem.

It also asked India and Sri Lanka to write an application to the UNESCO to declare the Gulf of Mannar region, a mixed cultural and natural world heritage site.

Earlier, a resolution in this regard was adopted on the issue at a meeting here, attended by an international consortium of ecologists, academics, scientists and religious leaders.

http://epaper.expressbuzz.com/NE/NE/2008/12/12/ArticleHtmls/12_12_2008_009_010.shtml?Mode=1

 

http://setubandha.blogspot.com/2008/12/demand-for-sacred-site-status-for-setu.html

Demand for 'Sacred Site' status for Sethu

PTI

Tuesday, December 02, 2008  15:02 IST

LONDON: Campaigners protesting against the dredging of the Sethusamudram Ship Channel have demanded that Gulf of Mannar, which is home to the Ram Sethu, be designated as 'Sacred Site'.

The announcement for seeking a 'Sacred Site' status was made by Martin Palmer, Secretary General of Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) and religion and ecology advisor to Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, at a two-day meeting here.

"The Gulf of Mannar has enormous spiritual significance within both Hinduism and Islam," he said during his announcement.

"The meeting erupted into applause when he made the announcement. To get the Gulf of Mannar recognised on the international conservation stage will be a huge step forward in preserving its sanctity and ecology for future generations," Kusum Vyas, founder of The Living Planet Foundation, which organised the London meeting, said.

'Sacred Site' is now an international term of protection for sites that are spiritually, religiously, culturally and ecologically important.

Flowing between South-East India and Sri Lanka, the Gulf of Mannar is home to Ram Sethu or Adam's Bridge, a site of immense spiritual significance for both Hindus and Muslims worldwide.

Situated in South-Asia's largest biosphere reserve, it is also one of the last remaining biological hot-spots on the planet, offering sanctuary to numerous endangered plant and animal species such as the dugong and the green turtle. 

http://www.dnaindia.com/report.asp?newsid=1210895

 

Scientists converge in London to stop destruction of Setu Samudram

http://setubandha.blogspot.com/2008/11/scientists-converge-in-london-to-stop.html

 

To stop the destruction of the Sethu Samudram – Scientists, Academics and Religious Leaders Converge in London

Tue, 2008-11-25 05:23

By Walter Jayawardhana

London, 25 November, (Asiantribune.com) Ecologists, academics and scientists and religious leaders around the world organized by the US based living Planet Foundation are meeting today (November 25) at London's historic Linnean Society, Burlington House in Piccadilly to ask Indian and Sri Lankan governments to persuade UNESCO to designate the Gulf of Mannar a World Heritage site and stop the imminent devastation that could cause to the environment by the controversial Sethu Samudram project. The seminar will last two days continuously.

The organizers said, "The aim is to prevent the destruction of the Gulf of Mannar , one of the last remaining intact eco-systems of the world and home to the famous Ram Sethu or Adam's Bridge , a site sacred to one billion Hindus worldwide."

"The gathering is set to provide enough multi-disciplinary evidence to persuade" the two countries to ask UNESCO to grant World Heritage designation to the Gulf , the Living Planet Foundation said.

Interviewed in a London Hotel, one of the participating scientists of the seminar Dr. Ranil Senanayake told this correspondent, "Sethu Samudram canal project is a 140 years old idea proposed by the British imperialists not compatible with the thinking of the 21st century. Today, much better things could be thought about for better results. Dredging through this geological formation would cause innumerable damages that cannot be reversed."

Asked to pinpoint one, Dr. Senanayake said that the present waves in the gulf bring the mineral sands from which Thorium could be processed. The sea currents deposit tons of mineral sands on the South Indian and North Sri Lankan beaches .He said Thorium processed from these mineral sands is believed to be the source of energy of the future, from which atomic power could be produced without allowing any chance of producing nuclear weapons. Once, the bridge is destroyed such sand deposits would stop by the gulf basin currents, the scientist warned India and Sri Lanka.

Many scientists have assessed the Gulf of Mannar is a shallow stretch of water separating India and Sri Lanka. Despite its important ecological and cultural significance as one of South Asia's largest biosphere reserves, the Indian government, under pressure from Tamil Nadu state politicians, is pressing ahead with plans to build a shipping channel called Sethusamudram , right across it, threatening the numerous endangered plant and animal species that live there as well as livelihood of local fishermen.

The proposal has been met with a chorus of international disapproval. It has also become the subject of a case in the Indian Supreme Court, which has temporarily delayed the devastating dredging.

Scientists have said the Gulf , free from oceanic currents , provides the calving grounds for a substantial part of the diverse whale population of the bay of Bengal. It is also identified as the habitat for rare and endangered plant and animal species including the threatened green turtle and dugong. The sea grass meadows of the gulf are the largest remaining feeding grounds for the globally endangered dugong. The centuries old pearl and conch shell fishing still exists there.

"The dredging will destroy this fragile eco-system. What we need is not an industry that will benefit only few shipping companies and dredgers. When, ships starts sailing along the canal even the limestone wells of Jaffna could become salty. What we need there is a sustainable development project," scientist Ranil Senanayake said.

- Asian Tribune -

http://www.asiantribune.com/?q=node/14376

Letter of December 26, 2008 to:

pachauri@teri.res.in, director@neeri.res.in, shetye@nio.org, kathir@niot.res.in, inho@dataone.in inho_helpdesk@dataone.in, p.tejale@gsi.gov.in  

                                                                                                                 

Respected Dr. Pachauri and members of Pachauri Committee,

A request has been separately submitted to you and to Her Excellency President of India together with a resolution adopted by a meeting of ecologists and concerned world citizens who gathered in London. (Details given below) 

I request, on behalf of Rameshwaram Rama Setu Protection Movement to recommend to Government of India to stop the Setu channel project which is a project disaster by all accounts, a navigational hazard and look for alternative projects to support the lives of coastal people by 1) establishing marine economic zones (MEZs) with economic, fiscal and monetary incentives on the lines provided for SEZs to harness the Indian Ocean's resources upto 200 kms. from the coastline 2) to study railway lines along the Coromandel east-coast linking Kochi with Kolkata and Colombo with Madurai  to carry ships' containers into the hinterland; 3) augmentation of fisheries ports and fishermens' marine cooperatives as part of MEZs, all along the long coastline for harnessing deep-sea aquatic resources and 4) augmentation/creation of deep-water container ports at Vizhinjam, and Kochi. This will be a step in the direction of constituting the Indian Ocean Community as a counterpoise to the European Economic Community. http://sites.google.com/site/indianoceancommunity1/setusamudram

I am confident that you as you represent the scientific community of the world, you will see fit to heed the concerns of the coastal people, warnings of mariners, ecologists and millions of people who adore Setusamudram as sacred world heritage.

We will be happy to provide, for your evaluation, details of 8000 pages documentation which was submitted to earlier Committees, to Government departments and the Courts of Law (including the Supreme Court) in this regard. This will help the Committee to take all factors into account, in a just and transparent manner, before submitting the Committee's report.

Thanking you for your consideration and with the best regards,

Namaskaram.

Dr. S. Kalyanaraman

National President, Rameshwaram Rama Setu Protection Movement,

kalyan97@gmail.com 26 December 2008

http://sites.google.com/site/kalyan97/setu

See also: http://newstodaynet.com/col.php?section=20&catid=29&id=13159 (News Today, 15 December 2008)

 Asking UNESCO to designate Setusamudram as World Heritage Site

December 25, 2008

Greetings!

We are happy to report that some 200 ecologists, academics, scientists and religious leaders from around the world met on 25 and 26 November at the Linnean Society in London and sought to provide enough multi-disciplinary evidence to persuade the governments of India and Sri Lanka to ask UNESCO to designate the Gulf of Mannar a World Heritage Site.

We are delighted to inform you that the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) made the dramatic announcement at the London meeting that it would be seeking to have the Gulf of Mannar designated as one of the world's first internationally recognized 'Sacred Sites.'

Martin Palmer, Secretary General of ARC and religion and ecology advisor made the announcement of nomination for Sacred Site status to His Royal Highness the Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

Martin Palmer said, "Cosmologically and ecologically theGulf of Mannar is about as sacred a site as you couldget. Our suggestion is that it should be nominated asone of the very first internationally significant sacredsites, along with places such as the sacred mountains of China and other such hugely holy and ecologically significant places. I have every confidence the nomination will succeed."

Following agreements reached at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Barcelona last October, 'Sacred Site' is a now an international term of protection for sites that are spiritually, religiously, culturally and ecologically important. IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, is world's oldest and largest global environmental network - a democratic membership union with more than 1,000 Government and NGO member organizations, and almost 11,000 volunteer scientists in more than 160 countries - it helps find pragmatic solutions to pressing environment and development challenges. We, at Living Planet Foundation and the Gulf of Mannar World Heritage Site Campaign are delighted with this nomination, which is a historic first and boosts our Campaign with new energy and new momentum! We believe that the Sacred Site nomination by ARC can only advance the cause for which we have been campaigning for the past 4 years – protecting the Gulf of Mannar and those whose lives are threatened by the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project.

Following the London meeting, on November 29, our delegate from Bali, Dr. I Gusti Ngurah Arya Wedakarna, Prince of Dalem Benculuh Tegeh Kori, personally  handed the Resolution to Mrs. Pratibha Patil, India's President who was on an official visit to Bali.

The Resolution has also been delivered to Dr. R. K. Pachauri, head of the Committee of Experts appointed by the Government of India. (Click here for the Resolution)

That the London meeting was such a huge success was largely due to the pains-taking efforts put in by a number of people from the organizations involved, particularly by all the team members that traveled from various parts of the world to take part in the meeting. It also made a great difference that the ARC, Rainforest Concern, The Foundation for International

Environmental Law and Development (FIELD), Romulus Whitaker and the UK office of ICOMOS made detailed and focused presentations at the meeting. It would only be appropriate here to thank all of them.

On behalf of Living Planet Foundation and the Gulf of Mannar World Heritage Site Campaign team, I would like to thank everyone whose support helped us reach an important milestone. While preparing for the London meeting this year and traveling to various cities across

the U.S and Europe, I was similarly inspired by the passion and generosity of so many concerned people. In that spirit, I hope you'll continue to support the Gulf of Mannar World Heritage Site Campaign. Contribution of any size makes a very real difference.

Our campaign is not over, yet it is not endless. We do not know the day of final victory, but with the nomination from ARC, we have seen the turning of the tide. Now, we need your continued support if the Gulf of Mannar - and perhaps the planet - is to survive and thrive.

From my family and my Campaign team to yours, we hope you have a happy, healthy holiday season.

All the best for 2009,

Kusum Vyas
President, Living Planet Foundation
Founder, Gulf of Mannar World Heritage Site Campaign

http://www.scribd.com/doc/9459385/London-Resolution  

 

Sacred Site nomination boosts campaign to save Gulf of Mannar
Friday, 12.05.2008, 07:31am (GMT-7)

NEW YORK: At the first international meeting of the campaign to protect the Gulf of Mannar, held at the Linnean Society in London recently, the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) made the dramatic announcement that it would be seeking to have the Gulf of Mannar designated as one of the world's first internationally recognized 'Sacred Sites.' Following agreements reached at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Barcelona last month, 'Sacred Site' is a now an international term of protection for sites that are spiritually, religiously, culturally and ecologically important.

In the fight to save the Gulf of Mannar from destruction by the creation of a deep shipping channel, the move could prove to be a strategically important one. Flowing between South-East India and Sri Lanka, the Gulf of Mannar is home to Ram Sethu, or Adam's Bridge, a site of immense spiritual significance to both Hindus and Muslims worldwide.

Situated in South-Asia's largest biosphere reserve, it is also one of the last remaining biological hotspots on the planet, offering sanctuary to numerous endangered plant and animal species such as the dugong and the green turtle. However, despite the clear cultural, natural and spiritual importance of the area, and in the face of an on-going challenge in the Supreme Court of India, the Indian government is pressing ahead with dredging for the planned Sethusamudram Ship Channel, risking destruction of the sacred bridge and the fragile eco-system of the area.

The announcement of nomination for Sacred Site status was made by Martin Palmer, Secretary General of ARC, and religion and ecology advisor to His Royal Highness the Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. "The Gulf of Mannar has enormous spiritual significance within both Hinduism and Islam," he said during his announcement. "Narratives in the Hindu Ramayana, which feature Ram Sethu, and the Muslim story of Adam being thrown out of Paradise and falling into what we now know as Sri Lanka, then walking across Adam's Bridge to become the vice-regent of God ruling the world, make the Gulf of Mannar the one place in the world - other than the Garden of Eden - where we could actually say 'this is a sacred site about our relationship with and our responsibility for the rest of creation.'

 Cosmologically and ecologically the Gulf of Mannar is about as sacred a site as you could get. Our suggestion is that it should be nominated as one of the very first internationally significant sacred sites, along with places such as the sacred mountains of China and other such hugely holy and ecologically significant places. I have every confidence the nomination will succeed." Organizers of the campaign to protect the Gulf of Mannar have been quick to welcome the news. "Mr Palmer's announcement was dramatic and unexpected," says Kusum Vyas, founder of The Living Planet Foundation, based in Houston, Texas, which organized the London meeting.

"The meeting erupted into applause when he made the announcement - it was so thrilling. To get the Gulf of Mannar recognised on the international conservation stage will be a huge step forward in preserving its sanctity and ecology for future generations. We can't thank ARC enough." Asked to reflect on the current battle to preserve the Gulf of Mannar, Palmer said: "It is a classic struggle - to use Christian terminology - between God and Mammon, between those who see the world as a stage upon which a drama of cosmological significance is played out in which every aspect of creation has significance and meaning because it is created from love, and those who simply see this planet as a rather large supermarket to be raided."

ARC is a secular foundation designed to work both with the major religions, encouraging them to look into their own traditions in order to increase their environmental activities, as well as with major environmental organizations to get them to take the role of religions seriously.

IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, is world's oldest and largest global environmental network - a democratic membership union with more than 1,000 government and NGO member organizations, and almost 11,000 volunteer scientists in more than 160 countries - it helps find pragmatic solutions to pressing environment and development challenges. The first international meeting of the campaign to protect the Gulf of Mannar was held at the Linnean Society in London last week and was organized by The Living Planet Foundation USA.

India Post News Service

http://indiapost.com/article/usnews/4722/

New alignment for Setu channel 

does NOT make nautical sense -- 

Capt. Balakrishnan, IN (Retd.)


To: Respected Dr. Pachauri and members of Pachauri Committee,

Forwarded herewith is the analysis made by Capt. H. Balakrishnan, IN (Retd.) who had commanded the INS Trishul, anti-missile frigate and has had a distinguished career in the Indian Navy. His analysis should be taken into account before the Committee makes any recommendation to the Govt. of India about any alternative alignment/s.

I am confident that the Committee will come to the conclusion to recommend scrapping of the Setu channel project altogether in the sacred Setusamudram world heritage zone.

The navigational hazards are precisely and succinctly analysed by Capt. Balakrishnan. I invite reference to the following sections of his lucid report. He notes certain impediments  to safe  navigation in the Setusamudram area. He had earlier presented in 8 parts on the cost-benefit analysis of Setu channel navigation and proved conclusively that the proposal for a channel does NOT make any nautical sense. In fact, it constitutes a nautical hazard of immense proportions in a complex, fragile, sacred oceansphere called Setusamudram.

“These impediments also have the potential to develop into hazardous situations for ships at sea…In the Palk Bay/ Palk Straits/ Gulf of Mannar area, the wind is of a swirling nature, and at the same time, on account of the 'Venturi effect', caused by the geography of the area, the wind velocity tends to be high…However, if the winds  were to blow across the axis of the channel, the ships, navigating through the channel are subjected to 'drift' away from their courses steered. The  larger the ships cross-section offered to the wind, the greater and  more rapid will be the drift. The, probability of this happening is borne out  by the above referred  table in the 'Bay of Bengal Pilot'…

“Many of the fishing vessels, specially the small country boats, fail to display  lights at  night. They spread their nets and  keep it afloat with small thermocole floats. Because of their small size, they are difficult to be sighted visually, and are not radar reflective. Thus they constitute a  clear  and present danger to shipping. In the unfortunate event of a ship running over these nets, they get cut and coil around the propellor shaft, warranting "emergency procedures", on board the vessel. In a channel like the SSCP, it's a positively hazardous situation for the vessel…

With shallow waters (less than 10 metres) prevailing outside the 'dredged channel', this drift could turn hazardous for a large vessel. The only method to counter this drift is to increase speed. But the adverse effects of the "Shallow Water or Squat Effect" precludes the increase in speed.    If ships were to deploy tugs to counter the drift, then the 'speed made good' through the SSCP reduces. This leads to an increase in time taken to navigate through the SSCP and thus an increase in the overall voyage time. Fuel consumption for the voyage increases as also the voyage fuel costs, thus reducing the savings in fuel costs… 

Proximity to Land   The  SSCP is an "open channel"  unlike  the Suez and Panama Canals. For a large vessel, like a 30,000 DWT bulk carrier, approaching within 10 nautical miles of land is not considered prudent navigation when on passage. Yet, in the  case of the "New Alignment", the vessel approaches within 3.5 nautical miles of the "Kodandaramaswami Temple", and  less than 5.0 nautical miles off "Devil's Point". Large vessels proceeding at slow speeds, as is warranted in the SSCP, are extremely tardy in their response to engine and helm orders. Thus, navigating in close proximity of land with slow responses, and in conditions of cross wind, could risk vessel safety. This possibility cannot be ruled out. Comment  From the standpoint of navigational safety, the area of location of the SSCP, is a cause for disquiet. Viewed  against this backdrop, one is left wondering- " whether a shipping channel is meant to cater to the needs  of shipping in its entirety OR whether the shipping is meant to cater to the  needs of the channel... 

“My research 
 into the SSCP, from a shipping perspective, has clearly reveled that the "SSCP just does not make any nautical sense". TIME IS AT HAND TO CEASE THINKING ABOUT SENDING SHIPS IN ‘HARM'S WAY’ – ‘THE SSCP WAY’. ”

We will be happy to provide any additional info. needed for the Committee's deliberations.

namaskaram.

Dr. S. Kalyanaraman,
Former Sr. Exec., Asian Development Bank,
kalyan97@gmail.com 
26 December 2008


pachauri@teri.res.in      Dr. RK Pachauri

director@neeri.res.in Dr. Tapan Chakrabarti

shetye@nio.org  Dr. SR Shetye

kathir@niot.res.in Dr. N. Kathiroli

inho@dataone.in , inho_helpdesk@dataone.in (Attn. Rear Admiral BR Rao)

p.tejale@gsi.gov.in (Attn. Dr. PM Tajale, DG, GSI)


SSCP: ANALYZING THE  VIABILITY  OF A

"NEW ALIGNMENT" AS AN ALTERNATIVE TO THE EXISTING "6 ALIGNMENTS" -

PART – 9

 

By

 

Capt (Retd) H.  Balakrishnan, I.N

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

 

1.         During the course of the recent arguments in the Supreme Court  of India in end July 2008, the SSCP and 'Ram Sethu',  Their  Lordships of the Three Judge  Bench, had evinced interest in an "alternate alignment" to the proposed "Alignment No:6 ". Their  contention  was, if such an alignment was feasible, then the 'Ram Sethu' is left untouched, and,  at the same time, the SSCP becomes feasible . 

2.         This   paper analyses an "alternate alignment" from the standpoint  of economic viability and navigational feasibility.

3.         As the navigational co-ordinates of the "new alignment" are not known, this writer has proceeded, after a study of the relevant navigational  charts, as also on the basis of media reports of the honourable  Judges observations in the Supreme Court.

THE NEW ALIGNMENT

4.         This "new  alignment" as observed by the honourable Judges of the Supreme Court, passes 0.5 nautical miles (nm) or 1000 yards or 5 cables (1cable = 200yards), due East of the reference  marked as "Lands End" on  charts 358- "Approaches to   Palk Bay" and 262- "Cape Comerin to Pamban" (off Dhanushkodi),  respectively. It also passes about 3 cables (600 yards) to the West of the commencement of the portion marked as "Adams Bridge" on the same charts.

TIME AND DISTANCE CALCULATIONS

Voyage Kolkata to Tuiticorin

5.Distance-Kolkata  to Tuiticorin circumnavigating Sri Lanka = 1380nm

6.Distance-Kolkata  to Tuiticorin via SSCP "new alignment" = 1005nm

(Note: It is assumed that the length of the SSCP remains unchanged at 167.2kms or 104nm, 300 metres wide and 12 metres  dredged depth.       

7. Voyage Time - Kolkata  to Tuiticorin circumnavigating

    Sri Lanka@12knots  =     115 hours(h)

 

8.  Voyage Time – Kolkata to Tuiticorin via SSCP at Speeds of 12knots in  "Open Sea" and 8 knots through SSCP:

  (a) Open Sea Distance  of (1005 -104nm) 901nm @ 12knots  = 75.08h

 (b) Time taken to  transit SSCP @ 8 knots    =  13.0n

 (c) Total voyage time  =  88.08h

 

9. Voyage Time - Kolkata to Tuiticorin via SSCP at speed of 12 knots in "Open   Sea" and 6 knots  through SSCP:

     (a) Open Sea Distance  of (1005 -104nm) 901nm @ 12 knots  =  75.08h

    (b) Time taken to transit SSCP@ 6 knots =  17.30h

    (c) Total voyage time =  92.38h

 

10.     Savings in  voyage distances and times, vis-à-vis circumnavigating Sri Lanka  are as follows:

            (a)  Voyage Distance   =  375nm

            (b)  Voyage Time @ 8 knots through SSCP =  26.92h

            (c)  Voyage Time @6 knots through SSCP  =  22.62h

(Note: With 1 hour each for Pilot embarkation / disembarkation, the times at Paras 10 (b) and (c) above will reduce by 2 hours)

 

COST BENEFIT ANALYSIS

11.       For ease of comparison of voyage fuel costs between "Alignment No:6" and the current one under examination, the I.O.C tariff at Chennai, as prevailing on 01 March 2008, is taken. These were as follows per Metric  Tonne (MT):-

(a)       Heavy Oil(H.O)   =          Rs. 27,313 + 4% VAT

                                     =          Rs. 28,405.5 per MT

(b)       High Speed Diesel (HSD)  =  Rs. 27,384 +23.43% VAT

                                                  =  Rs. 33,800 per MT 

12.       Fuel consumption rates are taken as an average of 1MT per hour of motoring  for both types of fuel.

 

Fuel Consumption

 

13. Fuel consumption circumnavigating Sri Lanka (H.O) =  115M.T. 

14. Fuel consumption while navigating through SSCP at 8 knots:

(a)  Open Sea segment (HO)       =  75.08M.T

(b)  SSCP segment (HSD)      =  13.00 M.T

(c)  Add, 1M.T.  of HSD for unforeseen contingency in  restricted  waters  =  1.00M.T.

(d) Total fuel consumption = 75.08 (H.O)+14.00(HSD) 

 

15.       Fuel consumption while navigating through SSCP at 6 knots:

(a)       Open Sea segment (HO)  =  75.08M.T

(b)       SSCP segment (HSD) =  17.30 M.T

(c)       Add, 1M.T.  of HSD for unforeseen

            contingency in restricted waters  =  1.00M.T.

(d)       Total fuel consumption  =  75.08 (H.O)+18.3 (HSD)

 

Voyage Fuel Costs

 

16. Fuel costs circumnavigating Sri Lanka (H.O) = Rs. 115X28,405,.5

                                                                       = Rs. 32,66,632.5

17. Fuel costs while navigating through  SSCP @ 8 knots:

            (a)     Open Sea (H.O)      =       Rs. 75.08X28,405.5

                                            =       Rs. 21,32,684.94

         (b)     SSCP (HSD)       =       Rs. 14X33,800.00

                                            =       Rs. 4,73,200.00

         (c)     Total fuel costs (a+b)   =       Rs. 26,05,884.94

 

18.       Fuel costs while navigating through  SSCP @ 6 knots:

            (a)       Open Sea (H.O)        =       Rs. 75.08X28,405.5

                                               =       Rs. 21,32,684.94

          (b)     SSCP (HSD)         =       Rs. 18.3 X 33,800.00

                                                =       Rs. 6,18,540.00

          (c)     Total fuel costs (a+b)    =       Rs. 27,51,224.94

 

Voyage Fuel Cost Savings

 

19.       Savings in fuel costs between circumnavigating Sri Lanka and navigating through SSCP @ 8 knots  = Rs. 32,66,632.5- Rs. 26,05,884.94

                                                  =  Rs. 6,60,747.56

 

20.       Savings in fuel costs between circumnavigating Sri Lanka and navigating through SSCP @ 6 knots   =  Rs. 32,66,632.5- Rs. 27,51,224.94

                                                  =  Rs. 5,15,407.56

50% of Fuel Costs Savings

 

21. 50% of Para 19 above   =       Rs. 3,30,373.78

22. 50% of Para 20 above   =       Rs. 2,57,703.78

 

23        The  rationale for Paras 21 and 22 above can be found in Chapter 8, Para 8.27, in the 'Report' submitted by the 'Committee of Eminent Persons', which stated: "The approach followed by the consultants to propose tariff @ 75% of savings in one of the alternatives, may result in a scenario  where the  channel charges maybe higher than the savings. As the tariff rate @ 50% of savings has been proposed, in base case I.R.R., such a situation has been  avoided. However, the savings to some ships will be more than 50%, while for some, it will be lower".

24.       Comment      Appendix A to PART-7- "Analysing  the Economic Viability of the SSCP from a Shipping  Perspective on the Basis of Official Reports", calculates the annual income that ought to be generated by the Sethusamudram Corporation Ltd. (SCL), at a conservative estimate, to defray its annual expenditure burden.

25.       On that basis, the tariff to be levied per ship worked out to Rs. 3.89 lakhs in the First Year of operation of the SSCP. However, if 50% of the fuel costs savings were to be levied as tariff for using the SSCP (Paras 21 and 22 above), then it is evident that the SSCP will incur a loss in its First Year of operation itself. And,  this loss will continue through the remaining years of its existence.

26.       However, if tariff rates for using the SSCP were to be brought in line with that charged by the major ports in India, then the shipping companies will incur a loss.

27.       It is therefore safe to conclude that none of the proposed alignments  will prove to be economically viable if 50% of the savings in fuel costs were to be levied as tariff.

SSCP AND IMPEDIMENTS TO SAFE NAVIGATION

28.       A detailed examination of the navigational charts of the area, along with a reading of the climatology section of the "Bay of Bengal Pilot", coupled with the experience of this writer in commanding an Offshore Support Vessel (OSV) in this area, brings to light certain impediments  to safe  navigation in the area. These impediments also have the potential to develop into hazardous situations for ships at sea. These are summarized in the succeeding paragraphs.

29.       Wind    The  wind observation  tables in the "Bay of Bengal Pilot" for Nagapatinam ( in  close proximity to the Palk Bay /Palk Sraits), reveals that throughout the year, the wind blows from all points of the compass. In the Palk BayPalk StraitsGulf of Mannar area, the wind is of a swirling nature, and at the same time, on account of the 'Venturi effect', caused by the geography of the area, the wind velocity tends to be high.

30.       High wind speeds, by itself, does not constitute a navigational risk. In the case of the SSCP also, if the  winds  were to blow along  the  axis of the Channel,  ships navigating the channel would not be hampered. However, if the winds  were to blow across the axis of the channel, the ships, navigating through the channel are subjected to 'drift' away from their courses steered. The  larger the ships cross-section offered to the wind, the greater and  more rapid will be the drift. The, probability of this happening is borne out  by the above referred  table in the 'Bay of Bengal Pilot'.

31.       With shallow waters (less than 10 metres) prevailing outside the 'dredged channel', this drift could turn hazardous for a large vessel. The only method to counter this drift is to increase speed. But the adverse effects of the "Shallow Water or Squat Effect" precludes the increase in speed. (Para 21 (H) of Part-2 refers).

32.       If ships were to deploy tugs to counter the drift, then the 'speed made good' through the SSCP reduces. This leads to an increase in time taken to navigate through the SSCP and thus an increase in the overall voyage time. Fuel consumption for the voyage increases as also the voyage fuel costs, thus reducing the savings in fuel costs.

33.       To substantiate the aspect of high wind velocities in  the area, a news snippet in 'The  New Indian Express- Chennai' of 11 August 2008 reads: "WIND SWEPT SAND COVERS ROAD. RAMESWARAM- Strong winds have resulted in sand covering parts of the Rameswaram – Dhanushkodi Road, making travel even by four wheelers  difficult, officials said. They said, the wind blowing at 55  Km   an hour, had also uprooted some casurina trees, planted along the sea coast. The sea off Dhanushkodi was rough and people have been banned  from taking bath, they said, adding that fisherman were also finding it difficult to net fish in the choppy seas". This phenomenon  was on account of a "Depression" off the Orissa  Coast. Every time a pressure system forms over  the Bay of Bengal, high  winds can be anticipated in the Gulf of Mannar/Palk Bay/Palk Straits area. This could hamper ships navigating through the SSCP.

34.       The fact of the matter is that the above report pertains to the area of the "New Alignment" in particular and SSCP in general.

35.       Fishing Vessels All  the proposed alignments of the SSCP pass through the fishing grounds  of the local fishing community. At a seminar in Chennai on 07 May 2007, conducted by an autonomous think-tank- 'Observer  Research Foundation'- with the theme "Coastal Development and Coastal Security",  the Naval Officer-in-Charge (Tamil Nadu) and the Commander, Coast Guard Region (East), spoke about the high density of fishing vessels in the Rameswaram to Kachatheevu Island axis. They also highlighted  the difficulties faced by Naval and Coast Guard Vessels in ensuring maritime security,  on account of the fishing vessels traffic.

36.       The foregoing also has an adverse impact on the general navigational safety for vessels playing through the SSCP. This problem gets accentuated  at night. Many of the fishing vessels, specially the small country boats, fail to display  lights at  night. They spread their nets and  keep it afloat with small thermocole floats. Because of their small size, they are difficult to be sighted visually, and are not radar reflective. Thus they constitute a  clear  and present danger to shipping.

37.       In the unfortunate event of a ship running over these nets, they get cut and coil around the propellor shaft, warranting "emergency procedures", on board the vessel. In a channel like the SSCP, it's a positively hazardous situation for the vessel.

38.       Proximity to Land   The  SSCP is an "open channel"  unlike  the Suez and Panama Canals. For a large vessel, like a 30,000 DWT bulk carrier, approaching within 10 nautical miles of land is not considered prudent navigation when on passage. Yet, in the  case of the "New Alignment", the vessel approaches within 3.5 nautical miles of the "Kodandaramaswami Temple", and  less than 5.0 nautical miles off "Devil's Point". Large vessels proceeding at slow speeds, as is warranted in the SSCP, are extremely tardy in their response to engine and helm orders. Thus, navigating in close proximity of land with slow responses, and in conditions of cross wind, could risk vessel safety. This possibility cannot be ruled out.

39.       Comment  From the standpoint of navigational safety, the area of location of the SSCP, is a cause for disquiet. Viewed  against this backdrop, one is left wondering- " whether a shipping channel is meant to cater to the needs  of shipping in its entirety OR whether the shipping is meant to cater to the  needs of the channel ". 

CONCLUSION

40.       The Union Ministry of Environment  & Forests, vide its Letter No. J-16011/6/99-1A-III, dated 08 April 1999, had recommended the  scrapping  of the project from an environmental  perspective.

41.       My research  into the SSCP, from a shipping perspective, has clearly reveled that the "SSCP just does not make any nautical sense".

42.       TIME IS AT HAND TO CEASE THINKING ABOUT SENDING SHIPS IN "HARM'S WAY" – "THE SSCP WAY".  

REFERENCES

(A)             Bay of Bengal Pilot

(B)             Chart No: 7706 – Bay of Bengal

(C)             Chart No: 358 – Approaches to Palk Bay

(D)            Chart No: 262 – Cape Comerin to Pamban

 hbalakrishnan@yahoo.com 

Sacred samudra snaanam in Setusamudram near Rama Setu

There is a mention of sethu bhanda in Brihad Parashara Hora sastra (BPHS), a popular astrological treatise done by sage Parashara, the father of Ved Vyasa.

"Chapter. 83. Effects of Curses in the Previous Birth 

From verses 34-50. 

"A person will be without a male issue, as a result of curse of the mother, if at birth Chandra (moon),……..

 …..For release from this curse and to beget a male issue the person concerned should take bath in the sea with bridge of rocks between India and Lanka, recite one Lakh Gayatri Mantras, give in charity things, connected with evil Grahas, feed Brahmins and go round a Pipal tree 1008 times"

Samdra snaan is the propitiatory act for release from mother's curse. Even Rama did that as he had a curse from mother in the avatara of Parashurama (he killed mother).

He made use of that curse in Ramavathara which was executed through mother Kaikeyi. He could come out of that curse only after samudra snaan in Rameshwaram. After that only he could get back his wife and kingdom and could beget children. The Sethu apparently is a bund to stop the waters at Rameswaram so that mankind in the coming ages can get relief from curse. Rama's utterance of the greatness of the bund reveals this.

regards, 

jayasree saranathan 29 December 2008 
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