Archive for November, 2007

SSCP and security by Capt. H. Balakrishnan

November 27, 2007

SSCP AND SECURITY

(Lecture by Capt. H. Balakrishnan at the National Seminar on Protection of Rama Setu held at Constitution Club on 1,2 Dec. 2007)

1. During the course of the next 15-20 minutes, I shall dwell on some of the salient threats that could possibly impinge on vessels navigating through the SSCP.

2. I shall be dealing with the following possible threats and propose solutions:

(a)            Piracy and Armed Robbery

(b)            Maritime Terrorism

(c)            Conutering the threats

In dealing with these threats, I shall endeavour to present the global scenario as existing at present and overlay it with the Indian  perspective and its possible fallout on the SSCP.

PIRACY AND ARMED ROBBERY AT SEA

3. The internationally accepted �definition� of piracy is contained in Article 101 of the 1982 U.N Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS).

Piracy consists of any of the following acts:

(a)            Any illegal acts of violence or detention, or any act of depradation, committed for private ends by the crew or the passengers of a private ship or a private aircraft, and directed:

(i) On the High Seas, against another ship or aircraft or against persons or property on board such ship or aircraft;

(ii) Against a ship, aircraft, persons or property in a place outside the jurisdiction of any state;

(b)            Any act of voluntary participation in the operation of a ship or of an aircraft with knowledge of facts making it a pirate ship or aircraft;

(c)            Any act inciting or of intentionally facilitating an act described in (a) or (b).

The Global Scene on Piracy

4. Acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships are of tremendous concern to shipping in general. The fight to suppress these acts is linked to the Convention for Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation 1988, and to improve security measures on board ships and in port facilities adopted in Dec 2002.

5. According to reports compiled by the IMO, between 1984 and end of 1999, there had been 1587 attacks by pirates on ships around the world. In some areas, these attacks involved a disturbing increase in violence. Contrary to the stereotype, todays pirates are often trained fighters aboard speedboats, equipped with  satellite phones and Global Positioning System (GPS) and armed with automatic weapons.

6. The IMO estimates that incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships are under reported by the factor of Two. Several reasons have been given:-

(a)            Fear that a successful act or piracy reflects poorly on the Master’s competence 

(b)            Concern that such a report would embarrass the state in whose territorial waters the act occurred.

(c)            The belief  that an investigation would disrupt the vessel’s sailing schedules.

(d)            The possibility that the shipowner’s insurance would increase.

7. Piracy Reporting Centre: The International Maritime Bureau Piracy Reporting Centre (IMB), became operational in Oct 1992 and is located at Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. The centre is financed by voluntary contributions from shipping and insurance companies and its services are free of charge to all vessels irrespective of ownership and flag. Its specific tasks are:

(a)       Report all piracy incidents and armed robbery at sea to concerned law enforcement agencies.

(b)       Locate vessels that have been seized by pirates and recover stolen cargoes

(c)       Help bring the pirates to justice

(d)       Assist owners and crews of ships that have been attacked.

(e)       Collate information on piracy around the world. 

Statistical Data from IMB

8.

(a)            Number of Acts of Piracy - 2000 to 2005

(i) 2000 – 470

(ii) 2001 – 370

(iii) 2002 – 390

(iv) 2003 – 430

(v) 2004 – 310

(vi) 2005 – 260

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Real Life Incidents of Piracy at Sea

9. In Nov 1999, in the Arabian Sea, Indian Maritime Forces rescued the hijacked M.V.ALONDRA RAINBOW, a 7000 Ton Panama registered vessel, belonging to Japanese owners. The vessel was on passage from Kuala Tanjung  in Indonesia to Milke in Japan. The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre had put out a worldwide broad cast of the incident. According to IMB Centre, the crew of the vessel had been located safe in Thailand and the vessel was expected to turn up at any Indian port to discharge her cargo. After a High Seas Drama, the hijacked vessel was captured and the pirates brought to justice. However, on an appeal in the Bombay High Court, some years later, the Pirates were left free.

10. In Sep 1998, the Panama registered M.V. TENYU disappeared in the Straits of Malacca while on passage from Indonesia to the Republic of Korea, with a cargo of aluminium ingots. She later reappeared with a different name and a different crew . The IMO reports that it is almost certain that all her original crew of 17 were murdered. This was on the basis of some of the bodies being recovered by fishermen in the South China Sea.

11.             In Nov 1998, the bulk carrier, MV CHEUNG SON was attacked by pirates in the South China Sea. Her crew of 23 were all shot dead by the pirates.

12. More recently, The New Indian Express, Chennai in its edition of 02 Nov 2007, had reported about the fate of Indian seaman in two different incidents of piracy. One off Nigeria and the other off Somalia.

13. The Washington Post of 01 Nov 2007, had carried a report of the U.S. Navy going into action against pirates in two separate incidents off Somalia. The U.S. Navy had acted on the basis of distress calls made by the vessels that were boarded by the pirates.

Piracy off Indian Waters

14. The LTTE has an impressive track record in this game. Some of the reported cases relate to the hijacking of the vessels, IRISH MONA (Aug 1995), PRINCESS WAVE (Aug 1996), ATHENA (May 1997), MISEN (Jul 1997), MORONG BONG (Jul 1997), CORDIALITY (Sep 1997) and PRINCESS KASH (Aug 1998).

Conclusion

15. Security analysts across the globe are increasingly veering around to the view that the lines of demarcation between piracy and terrorism are getting intertwined. That is, Piracy on the High Seas is becoming a key Tactic of Terrorist Groups. Unlike the pirates of a earlier era, whose sole objective was quick commercial gain, many of todays pirates are Maritime Terrorists with an ideological bent and a broad political agenda. The nexus of Piracy and Terrorism is dangerous for the world energy markets.

16. Today, in the face of massive international efforts to freeze terrorist finances, terrorist groups have come to view that piracy is a potentially rich source of funding. This appeal is particularly apparent in the Straits of Malacca. According to Indonesias state intelligence agency, detained senior members of the Jemaah Islamiyah have admitted that the group has considered launching attacks on Malacca Shipping. Also, uniformed members of the Free Aceh Movement, an Indonesian separatist group, have been hijacking vessels and taking their crew as hostage at an increasing rate. The protracted ransom negotiations yield considerable sums-the going rate is nearly $ 100,000 per ship. This ransom is later used to procure weapons for operations against the Indonesian Government. In some cases, the Free Aceh Movement has demanded the release of members detained by the Indonesian Government.

17. Geography forces world shipping to pass through strategic chokepoints, many of which are located at in areas where terrorists with maritime capabilities operate. These channels are so narrow at certain points, that a single burning super tanker and its spreading oil slick could block the passage for other vessels. Were Terrorist – Pirates to hijack a large bulk carrier or tanker, sail it onto one of the choke points, and scuttle it to block the sea lane, the consequences for the world economy could be quite severe.

18. The foregoing analysis is equally applicable to the SSCP           

MARITIME TERRORISM

General Survey

19. At an International Conference on National Security in a Changing Region  held at Singapore on 28, 29 OCT 2004, the well known security analyst, Mr.B.Raman in his paper, Maritime Terrorism: An Indian Perspective, stated: Apprehensions of major acts of maritime terrorism by terrorist  organizations, which are members of Osama bin Ladens International Islamic Front (IIF), continue to be high, but there are no clear indicators so far of their having already acquired the necessary capability for such acts. However, their nexus with trans-national mafia groups, like the one headed by Pakistan based Dawood Ibrahim, has placed at their disposal maritime facilities which could be used and are being used for the clandestine movement of trained men and material required for land based terrorist operations in other countries. It is pertinent to mention here that the explosives for the 1993 Mumbai blasts came by sea.

20.             In an interview to the British shipping newspaper Lloyds List – on 06 Aug 2004, the British First Sealord, Admiral Sir Alan West was quoted as stating that Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups had realized the importance of global maritime trade and could launch attacks against merchant vessels.

21. Admiral Sir Alan West then stated: We have got an underlying level of intelligence which shows there is a threat. What weve noticed is that Al Qaeda and other organizations have an awareness about maritime trade. Theyve realized how important it is for world trade in general, and they understand the significance. Sea borne terrorism could potentially cripple global trade and have grave knock on effects on developed economies. Weve seen other plans from intelligence of attacks on merchant shipping. I can’t give you clear detail on any of that, clearly, but we are aware that they have plans. Ship owners realize that.

22.             No doubt, in comparison to acts of terrorism in the skies and on land, such acts either in inland waters or on the high seas have been few, except in Sri Lanka. This could possibly be attributed to two factors, namely:-

(a)       Except in the case of suicide terrorist acts, where escape is not a factor, getting away after an act of maritime terrorism on the high seas is not an easy task.

(b)       Terrorists want a stage to enact their drama in order to derive the maximum publicity and have a psychologically intimidatory impact on the minds of their perceived State adversaries as also its citizens   

23. However, the attraction for an act of maritime terrorism on the high seas is its psychological impact on the minds of policy framers and economic managers of the targeted vessel’s Nation. It could have an adverse spillover on other States in the region as well.

The Global Arms Bazar

24.             A discernable trend at present, which is extremely disturbing, is the spread of increasingly sophisticated conventional weapons to non-state actors, including long range anti-ship missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles and close range armour piercing missiles and rocket propelled grenades. All these varieties of munitions are capable of inflicting serious damage to ships, both big and small. The trade in small arms and light infantry weapons is already extensive in the conflict prone parts of the globe and the demand for more advanced equipment is strong.

25. The problem is global in scope. There are around 100 countries that makes weapons and ammunition. Sales of these products are estimated to be worth over $ 1000 Billion in 2006, fifteen times the annual spending on international aid. In short, there is a global arms bazaar, where cash in king and State controls are fax.

26.             The list of foiled, failed and successful attempts in maritime related terrorism over the past decade is significant. Yet, there is a tendency to over look or downplay what has happened, and thus ignore the possibility of further trouble. It is clear that terrorists can see the potential of using the maritime trading system and its land links in the container supply chain to conceal weapons or agents for attack purposes.

27. Terrorist Attack on Naval/Merchant Ships : Three recent examples should suffice to illustrate the maritime terrorist threat:

(a)       Attack on the U.S.S Cole:  In Oct 2000, Al Qaeda operatives in Yemen, packed a small boat with explosives and rammed the same onto the side of the U.S Navy destroyer-U. S.S Cole, while the ship was berthed in harbour. The blast left a gaping hole on the side of the destroyer and the cost of repairs amounted to $250 million. The blast killed 17 U.S Naval sailors and wounded another 40 seamen.

(b)       Missile Attack on Israeli Naval Ships: On 14  Jul 2006, two days after hostilities between Israel and the Hezbollah commenced, the latter fired two, C-802 radar guided anti-ship cruise missiles from ashore in Lebanon. The target were two Israeli Naval Corvettes that were patrolling off the Lebanese coast. One missile seriously damaged one of the corvettes, killing four Israeli seamen. The second missile narrowly missed the other corvette. Instead it hit a Cambodian registered merchant vessel. It sank immediately taking with it all the eleven seaman on board.

(c)       Attack on the French VLCC Limburg: In Oct 2002, a boat packed with explosives, rammed into the side of the French VLCC Limburg, off Yemen, and seriously damaged the vessel. The tanker had a capacity of 300,000 tons. Fortunately, at the time of the incident, it was loaded with only 55,000 tons of crude oil. This attack disrupted Yemen’s oil trade for a short period.

The LTTE Factor

28. From India’s point of view, the most worrisome terrorist organization with a well developed and well tested capability for acts of Maritime Terrorism is the LTTE. Its capability consists of its fleet of at least two or three merchant vessels, which are used for gun running, as also its Sea Tigers’ naval arm. Its merchant vessels plying under flags of convenience normally transport legitimate cargo and, when required, are also used for clandestinely transporting military hardware procured by the LTTE in countries like Pakistan, Thailand, Ukraine etc.

29. Two other aspects of the LTTE’s gun running capability by sea have to be noted. Firstly, its willingness to place its capability at the disposal of other terrorist organizations. There is at least one reported instance of the LTTE helping in 1995 either the Abu Sayyaf or the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, both of the Philippines, by carrying a consignment of arms and ammunition donated by Harkat-ul-Mujahidee n (HUM), from Pakistan to Southern  Philippines. Secondly, its use of merchant vessels not belonging to it, for the purpose of gun running. In 1993, a foreign merchant vessel carrying AK 47s, from a Russian company, arrived in Kochi. The consignee, was ostensibly our M of D. This was false. Indian intelligence strongly suspected the LTTE hand in this botched attempt at gun running.

30. Sea Tigers: The Sea Tigers of the LTTE has established control over most of North Sri Lanka Coastal region and the seas contiguous to this coast. They have displayed considerable ingenuity and daring in sea borne insurgency. They have carried out numerous daring attacks on Sri Lankan naval ships, and have not hesitated in undertaking suicide missions. Their daring attack on the naval installations on Delft Island, this summer, is a case in point. The SSCP is verily a next-door-neighbour in the area of operations of the Sea Tigers!

31.             LTTE Air Arm:  A new addition to the LTTE’s fighting capability is its Air Arm. They have todate carried out Four Daring Night Attacks on Sri Lankan Military Assets. A new factor seen in the last attack was their ability to co-ordinate the land and air attacks. The SSCP falls well within the radius of operation of the ZLIN-Z242L Czech aircraft which the LTTE operates.

Threat Perceptions in the SSCP

32. Media reports of 28  April 2007 in Chennai, attributed the killings of TN fishermen at sea, to the LTTE Sea Tigers. The grounds for killing the fishermen, attributed to LTTE sources, was that they were �Spying� on the LTTE�s activities at sea. If that be the case, the possibility of the LTTE advancing a similar argument for attacking ships navigating through the SSCP cannot be ruled out. The consequences of a ship sinking/running aground in the channel could have a disastrous impact on the very viability of the Project itself. It would have a psychological impact, as brought out earlier, on the shipping industry which may then tend to bypass the SSCP.

33. Mine Threat: The prevailing depths in the SSCP make it an ideal area for the use of sea mines. It has already been highlighted about the acquisition of sophisticated conventional arms by various terrorist organizations. A rudimentary sea mine is far cheaper than any of the sophisticated missiles. And yet, the mines can block the channel from being used for protracted durations as Mine Countermeasures (MCM) is a slow, tedious and time consuming form of naval warfare. This threat needs to be seriously kept in mind while formulating security policies for the SSCP. It is hoped that the lessons learnt from MCM operations in the Straits of Hormuz during and after Operation Desert Storm is not lost on our policy planners 

COUNTERING THE THREATS TO THE SSCP

34. In framing effective security policies for the SSCP, the complexities of international shipping need to be understood. A ship is built in one country, has a flag of convenience of a second country, is owned by a national of a third country and the vessel itself is manned by a crew of mixed nationalities with differing security clearance standards, is controlled through the Flag State in all its internal matters, but is subject to local Port State jurisdiction !! The global terrorist is aware, that, apart from a few international agreements with respect to slavery, piracy and illicit carriage of narcotics, there is no comprehensive Maritime Law to combat Maritime Terrorism. The terrorist can and does take advantage of this legal vacuum. There are diverse, complex and often conflicting domestic laws enacted by different coastal States.

35. The Indian Scene: If the foregoing was bad enough, consider the Indian Scene. The Indian Navy and Coast Guard come under the M of D. Fisheries comes under the Ministry of Agriculture. DG Shipping / DG lighthouses come under the Ministry of Shipping. The customs come under the Revenue Wing of the Ministry of Finance. ONGC comes under the Ministry of Petroleum! Also, the nodal agency for dealing with any marine oil spill is the Coast Guard,. However, the nodal Ministry for oil spills is the Home Ministry. A classic case of All at Sea!! (PUN INTENDED)

36. The U.S. Homeland Security: We could well take a leaf out of the U.S Homeland security book, in their post 9/11 scenario. The U.S. Coast Guard is The Single Nodal Agency for all maritime aspects of their Homeland Security. In special cases, the U.S.Navy can also discharge the responsibilities of the Coast Guard. Their laws provide for such an eventuality.

37. In this light we need to enact Maritime security laws with a single nodal agency to counter the threats of piracy or armed robbery at sea as also Maritime Terrorism. National security is too serious to be dictated by parochial politics.

CONCLUSION

38. It is to be hoped, in the larger interests of National Security, the  M of D/ Navy/ Coast Guard will be brought into the loop while formulating security policies for the SSCP.

REFERENCES

(A)  Maritime Related Terrorism Michael Richardson.

(B)  Maritime Terrorism:An Indian Perspective- B.Raman www.saag.org  Paper No:1154.

(C)  Ship in Wolf’s Clothing- VAdm (retd) A.K.Singh-Indian Express 30 Oct 2007.

(D)  Piracy and Armed Robbery at Sea- http://www.oceanatl as.com

(E)  http://www.imo. org

(F)  Sea Piracy in South Asia Dr.Vijay Sakhuja – www.saag.org-

Paper No: 1259

(G)  http://www.iags. org.   (Nov/Dec 2004)

(H)  The Washington Post 01 Nov 2007.

(I)  The New Indian Express (Chennai) 02 Nov 2007.

By

Captain (Retd) H.Balakrishnan, I.N

Rama Setu: national security

November 27, 2007

Rama Setu: national security

LTTE shifting operations to Kerala coast

PTI | Kochi

Posted online: November 26, 2007 (Delhi, Pioneer)

With its movement restricted on the Tamil Nadu coast due to constant surveillance by navy and coastguard, the LTTE has started shifting its operations to the Kerala coast, a top Naval official on Monday said.

The Sri Lankan forces have understood LTTE’s tactics and the Indian Navy has increased vigil on the Tamil Nadu coast, making it virtually impenetrable, Flag officer Commanding-in-Chief Southern Naval command, Vice Admiral Sunil K Damle said.

Now attempts are being made by the LTTE to slowly use Kerala coast for smuggling arms and ammunition and drugs. Efforts are also being made by other terrorist organisations to use Malabar as a landing point for RDX, Damle told reporters.

Citing instances of LTTE’s illegal activities in Kerala waters recently, including when the outfit allegedly seized a fishing vessel between Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram, for its clandestine activities, the Vice Admiral said “this is just the beginning of infiltration.”

Another militant organisation, which had smuggled in RDX through the Konkan coast, was now trying to bring it in through the Malabar coast. “We were told that some attempts had been made in the Malabar coast,” he added.

http://tinyurl.com/244xm5

Ocean and environment scientists recommend scrapping Setu channel project

November 27, 2007

clip_image002

CISSA

‘MBC 27, Museum Bains Compund

Kowdiar P.O., Trivandrum – 695 003

KERALA

Ph: 0471 2722151

http://www.cissa.co.in, mail@cissa.co.in, cissaindia@gmail.com

29 October 2007

To

Member Secretary

Committee of Eminent Persons on Sethu Samudram Shipping Canal Project,

Malligai, No.30/95,

P.S.Kumarasamy Raja (Greenways) Road,

Chennai-600 028.

Ph: 044 24959005, 24959006

Dear Sir,

Sub: Recommendations on Sethu Samudram Shipping Canal Project –forwarding- reg.

We wish to place before the Committee the recommendations of a cross section of academic and scientific community of Kerala, on the Sethu Samudram Shipping Canal Project, consolidated through two seminars organized by Centre for Innovation in Science and Social Action (CISSA).

The first such meeting took place at the University of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram on 26th April 2007.This was inaugurated by Prof. (Dr.) M.K. Ramachandran Nair, Vice Chancellor of University of Kerala and attended by the Professors and Staff of the various departments. In addition, scientists from various centers also took part. The Vice Chancellor stressed the need for detailed environmental impact studies before implementing such a mega project and requested the scientific community to play a more active role.

The second meting was organized at the School of Ocean Science and Technology, Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT) on 18th October 2007 and was inaugurated by Prof. (Dr.) E.P. Yasodharan Chairman, Kearala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment. In his inaugural address the Chairman said that the cost benefits of the project does not tally with the projected economic benefits. Besides, there is also a need to carry out detailed modeling studies for assessing the impacts of the proposed channel on the Kerala coast.

Dr. C.S.P. Iyer, Former Dierctor, Centre for Marine Analytical Reference & Standards, Dr. C.P. Rajendran, Centre for Earth Science Studies, Thiruvananthapuram, Prof. G.M. Nair, Professor & Head of the Department of Botany, University of Kerala, Dr. A. Biju Kumar, Dept. of Aquatic Biology and Fisheries, University of Kerala, Prof. N.R. Menon, Emeritus Professor, CUSAT, Prof. (Dr.). K.T. Damodaran, Director, School of Ocean Science & Technology, CUSAT, Prof. P. Natarajan, Rajiv Gandhi Chair Professor, CUSAT and many other academic and scientific persons assembled pointed out the lacuna in the various scientific aspects of the project. It was also unanimously decided to put before the Committee of Eminent Persons, the recommendations. These are summarized below.

The EIA studies and TFR on the basis of which clearance has been given for the project have not taken into account the following aspects. This is the first time in the world that a channel is being planned in a mid ocean. There is no previous experience for guidance. It is not correct to make comparisons with Suez and Panama canals. Unlike these land- based canals, the proposed channel would be a part of an open body, subject to forces of requent and unpredictable storms, cyclones, Tsunamis and other natural hazards.

  1. The Palk Bay is an area of intense geotectonic and cyclonic activities. The GSI has classified it as zone II. Between 1891 and 2001, 64 cyclones have hit the Tamilnadu coast, out of which 36 were severe. In December 1964, one of those cyclones even washed away the Pampan Bridge.
  2. At present, Adam’s bridge acts as a breakwater. Once the channel is executed cutting through the bridge, modeling studies have shown that the high energy waves of Tsunami coming from the east of India would flow through the channel in a north to south direction and also get magnified to large amplitudes by Tsunamic waves coming around Sri Lanka and flowing south to north. The destruction to the south-eastern Tamilnadu and to Kerala would be unimaginable. Though NEERI could not have foreseen the Tsunami, which hit the Indian coast on 26th December 2004, there was a need to have a reassessment of EIA, once the event had occurred. Although Tsunamis are short lived, damage caused by their impact is vast and longstanding. Proper modeling studies should be done to study the impacts of the project in Kerala coast.
  3. The Palk Bay is an area of high sedimentation. Low wave action and protection from southerly waves encourages deposition of transported material into the Bay. No recent data has been collected on extend of sedimentation in the Bay. Even in the earlier literature, there have been no attempts to understand the sediment contribution from cyclonic storms from Bay of Bengal or from rivers flowing into the Bay from Sri Lanka. The SCL modeling study mentioned a total quantity of 2 million tons of sediment deposition, parallel to the channel, during the monsoon. With the implementation of the project, there would be a two-fold increase in current velocities along the dredged channel. All these factors have a direct bearing on the quantum of maintenance dredging and its periodicity. More important are the integrity of the channel itself and the safety to the ship traffic, due to sedimentation.
  4. The Gulf of Mannar (GOM) Marine Biosphere Reserve has been identified as one of the hotspots of marine biodiversity, in fact, one of the most important biodiversity reserves of the world. Major coral formations occur in this region. Nearly 3,600 species of flora and fauna including the rare ones as sea cow, seahorses etc. exist here. Though it is mentioned in the EIA that the channel will not affect the bioreserve, it is not supported by with the any data. The impact due to dredging and the oil spill caused by the ship traffic on the biota has not been documented/studied in the EIA. Long-term impacts of the project on the rich biodiversity of the region should be studied in detail. Neither there is mention on impacts on species included in various schedules of Wildlife (Protection) Act living abundantly in the Reserve.
  5. The proper location for the disposal of dredged material has not been evaluated. The total quantity of dredged material as per present estimates is around 82 million cubic meters – 48 million from Adam’s bridge area and 34 million from Palk bay sector. The present plan is to dump the former in GOM and the latter in Bay of Bengal. Dumping these huge quantities of material in this highly turbulent area will cause turbidity and also submerge the large sea bottom community. This will have a long ecological impact. Similarly change of currents, once the channel is a reality would cause changes in temperature, salinity, nutrients etc. This would affect the ecosystem.
  6. A major aim of the proposed project is to save ship time, fuel, transport costs and to make it attractive. This is not supported by facts and figures. Independent, realistic estimate have shown that the savings in time is insignificant for ships coming to east coast of India from Europe and Africa; and therefore they are unlikely to use it. Moreover, due to economical reasons the bulk carriers today are of the order of 50,000 DWT and above. These ships will not be able to use the channel with the present designed draught of 10.8 meters. This, along with increasing interest rates and the resultant uncertainty of using the cannel, will make the project uneconomical.
  7. In the light of the above, it is recommended that the project should be implemented only after detailed Environment Impact Assessment, involving all the national research agencies working in the field, and after proper public hearing. Rapid Environment Impact Assessment is impractical in complex marine ecosystem for evaluating the feasibility of the project. A multilevel approach involving NGOs and independent agencies is required to monitor the marine ecosystem and to evaluate the risk assessment. The stability of the bridge should also be frequently monitored by remote sensing. Economic evaluation of the project should be done with the assistance of agencies competent in the field.

Thanking you,

Yours faithfully,

Dr. C.S.P. Iyer Dr. C. Suresh Kumar

(Chairman of Seminar Series) (General Secretary, CISSA)

Enclosures:

  1. Brochures of the seminars organized
  2. Press cuttings of the seminars

Who benefits from Setu project?

November 27, 2007

Who benefits from the Setu project? (Dinamani, 27 Nov. 2007)

TSS Mani

Last Sept. 18, 2007 there was an article by Ramalakshmi titled, ‘Sea channel project is obstructed because of communal obstruction’. That article ended with a prognosis: that a struggle for lives of fishermen and for saving environment has been changed and stamped with communalism. The Environmental Impact Analysis reports show how the environment will be devastated by this project:

The Bay of Bengal-Gulf of Mannar region is full of natural soft and hard clay.. North and South of Dhanushkodi are sands. That is why, this project was considered NOT feasible over 140 years ago and hence the project was abandoned. If the channel is made by dredging, every year dredging will have o be done. The costs are incalculable.

The van island near Thuthukudi is 6 kms. away from Rama Setu. The Wild Life Act states that there should be no project in the entire area of 25 kms. from the National Marine Park. UNESCO declared the Gulf of Mannar region as National Marine Park, Protected Bioreserve. This project has been designed in violation of these environmental laws.

  • Gulf of Mannar is already filled with heavy minerals and polluted with oils. If the channel project comes up there, the environment will be further devastated.
  • The breeding grounds of many species such as ocean fan, ocean foam (cotton), pearl, s’ankha (turbinella pyrum), will be destroyed.
  • There are over 600 species of fishes. Of these 200 species are of commercial importance. If these species are destroyed, the incomes of the coastal people and rights to livelihood of the coastal people will be taken away.
  • Between 1992 and 1996, the fish production increased four-fold from 55,000 tonnes to 2,00,000 tonnes. The channel project will adversely impact this marine wealth.
  • During South-West monsoon, aquatic fauna move from Gulf of Mannar into Palk Straits. In other seasons, they reverse the direction of migration. They go through Pamban gap and Arumunai. By digging a channel, migration of these aquatic species will be obstructed.
  • When deepened by dredging, the ocean flora and fauna species will be destroyed.
  • The endangered and rare species called Sea cow (Dugong), migrate with change of seasons. The late Professor of Humanities of Madras University, Sudarshan had worned that the Sea Cow, as a specie, will disappear.
  • The head of Tamilnadu Science Academy, late Prof. Sudarshan had, in a scientific review, had, in 2004 itself, noted that Setu channel project will destroy environment and right to life of fisherfolk.

· During the construction period and during the implementation period of the Setu channel project, polluting effluents, oilspills from the ships will mix with the ocean water flows and continuously destroy the environment.

· Because of the traffic of ships, pollutants and species alien to the ocean, will travel from Bay of Bengal into the Indian Ocean in Gulf of Mannar, there is enhanced danger for devastation of the living aquatic resources.

· Gulf of Mannar which is the life-giving repository for many aquatic resources, the naturally endowed enrironment, the exquisite and unique resources and wild life species will be endangered.

· There are increased dangers of ships colliding traversing the narrow channel proposed. The oilspills during such collisions will devastate the flora and fauna of the aquatic zone.

· In the USA, between 1990 and 1999 over 50,000 oilspills have occurred, resulting in the depletion of fish and other aquatic wealth of their seas.

· Coral rocks are unique to Gulf of Mannar. The islands where these coral rocks are found are between Rameshwaram and Thuthukudi.. Oilspills will destroy these coral reefs.

· There are many sea turtles. The very dredging in the region will kill these turtles.

· Those supporting the Setu channel project do not seem to be concerned with the impact on the ocean current flows caused by the dredging and deepening of a channel.

· The 21 islands between Thuthuki and Rameshwaram have saved these two towns from the devastating tsunami. Such islands will be eroded by this project and are the islands themselves are likely to be destroyed.

· Based on an UN investigation, 13 places were selected as most important Marine Bioreserves which need to be protected. In that selection by UNESCO, three regions were determined as the most important. They are: Nandadevi, Nilagiri and Gulf of Mannar. A huge fund was created to protect this Gulf of Mannar bioreserve. They have also informed Govt. of India that their efforts at protecting the bioreserve will be rendered infructuous by the proposed channel project.

· Govt. of India calls this the Suez Canal of the East. They argue that upto 24 hours in navigation time will be saved for navigation between Gulf of Mannar and Bay of Bengal. Marine experts, economists call this a mythical argument.

· Panama and Suez are land-based canals. Setu channel is being dug in the mid-ocean. Panama and Suez canals allow navigation for ships upto 150,000 dwt. (Dead weight tones). But, Setu channel will allow ships of upto only 30,000 dwt.

The investment in the Setu channel will be of the order of Rs. 2600 crores to Rs. 3500 crores. So far, Rs. 300 crores have been expended.

An economist called Jacob John finds, based on the detailed project report, that this project is not economical and has a low internal rate of return. In an article published in the Economic and Political Weekly (2 July 2007), he has proved that the arguments of the proponents of the project are wrong. No ship traveling from the west coast of India to the east coast of India will benefit from navigating through the channel. The pilot ship will take about 2 hours to regulate entry and exit of any ship into and out of the channel. A toll charge (pilotage) will be levied for such navigation. This will increase the cost of navigation for a ship. If there is a saving in 22 hours of navigation time for ships starting from Thuthukudi, the saving in time for ships starting from Europe will be only 8 hours. So, the channel will not be of any significant advantage for foreign ships. The capital investment cannot be recovered and the project will be incurring losses.

(The author of the article is an investigator for protecting Environmental and Human Rights issues).

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http://dinamani.com/NewsItems.asp?ID=DNE20071126105836&Title=Editorial+Page&lTitle

Sunday Times, Colombo, May 20, 2007

Sethusamudram project: Verdict of experts handed over to Cabinet

The report of an expert group set up by the Government to study the implications of the Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project (SSCP), was handed over to the Cabinet last Wednesday.

The inter-ministerial committee which appointed the expert group will now study the report and decide on how best to address Sri lanka’s concern regarding the project, Science and Technology Minister Tisssa Vitarana who is a member of the ministerial committee said.

The expert committee headed by the Secretary to the Ministry of Education Ariyaratna Hewage handed over its report to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs late last month and it was presented to Cabinet on Wednesday.

The expert committee consisted of people drawn from various areas relating to marine science as well as a representative of the Sri Lanka Navy. One of the main concerns of the committee was the adverse environment impact the project could have on Sri lanka.

The Sethusamuduram project involved linking the Palk Strait and the Gulf of Mannar to the east coast of India by creating a shipping canal through Rameswaram Island, providing a continuous navigable sea route around theIndian peninsula within India’s territorial waters.

The ministerial committee headed by the Foreign Minister includes theMinisters of Environment and Natural resources, Ports and Aviation, Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Defence and Science and Technology.

http://www.sundaytimes . lk /070520/News/nws11.html

*Controversial Sethusamudram canal dredging project**

**Lankan** experts caution against eco disasters *

*By Ravi Ladduwahetty *

http://www.nation.lk/2007/04/22/lankan.jpg

An eminent 34- member advisory group of Sri Lankan professionals have cautioned that the Sethusamudram canal dredging project could have disastrous environment impacts, particularly, maritime environment, for SriLanka.

What is most disconcerting is the absence of any response from the Indian Government to the Lankan concerns. The Group, after a year’s study, submitted their report to Foreign Secretary Dr. Palitha Kohona, earlier this month.The Experts Group comprised Secretary, Education Ministry Ariyaratne Hewage  Chairman, Peradeniya University Professor of Geography Shantha Hennayake -Deputy Chairman, Special Advisor, Technical Planning & Development,SriLanka Ports Authority, Prasanna Weerasinghe and Systems Advisor, Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project (SSCP), Tikiri Jayatilleke.

The Advisory Group was supported by sub cmmittees from the Ministry ofForeign Affairs headed by Asistant Director Sugeesawara Gunatunga, onhydrodynamic modeling headed by Moratuwa University’s Prof of Coastal Engineering Samantha Hettiarachchi, on Environmental Measures forSustainability headed by the Director, Institute of Technological Studies,Dr Aziz Mubarak, including IUCN Ecologist Dr. Channa Bambaradeniya and Head of Oceanography, NARA, K. Arulananthan, on Fsheries Resources & Livelihood,headed by Head of Marine Biological Resources, NARA, Dr Champa Amarasiri andon Navigational Emergencies headed by Commander Y.N. Jayaratne, Sri Lanka Navy.

The primary concern for Sri Lanka is that the initial dredging, the infinitemaintenance dredging and subsequent shipping through the channel, could have ngative impacts on Sri Lanka’s maritime and environment resources, sources in the Advisory Group told The Nation yesterday.

Another major Sri Lankan concern which also relates to environmentresources, is that the Indian studies have not taken into account the singleenvironment impact on the Sri Lankan side of the international boundary, they said.

The Advisory Group is of the view that, despite the SSCP being located onlyone mile away from the Indian side of the maritime boundary, the impact is nlikely to remain only on the Indian side and that, Sri Lanka’s concerns have become even more significant, in the light of insufficient attention pid to minimise the environmental aspects on the Lankan side of the boundary.

The Advisory Group has also noted that the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) carried out by India is inadequate for a number of reasons.

The Nation in its edition of January 7, 2007, exclusively reported that,despite the Indian assertion (Commercial Counsellor, Indian High Commission, Colombo, Sanjay Sudhir refers) that it has shared the Ahamedabad basedIndian National Environment & Ecological Research Institute (NEERI) reportwith Sri Lanka, is insufficient justification to prove that there will be no adverse impact on the environment. Simply because, the NEERI report by  itself, was flawed and was sufficient legal justification to put the entire

NEERI repot into scientific question.

For example, the NEERI report is yet to explain the sedimentation issue, silting possibilities and underwater ocean currents, when the canal is constructed.

According to Sudharshan Rodriguez, a Chennai based conservation analyst, theEIA report furnished by NEERI, has used secondary data going back to 1976.

“Hence, how can a project, which will pass through a biological hot spot, with so many likely impacts, be assessed on the basis of secondary data?” is the next most logical question.

The Convenor, Indian Coastal Action Network, Ossie Fernandez has alleged that the NEERI EIA report is also a re-hash of the preliminary report andthat, many activists and professionals are querying the data sources, including the bio diversity readings.

Furthermore, there would be increased turbidity, which has never been studied by NEERI, which has neither studied the possibility of a tsunamithrough the canal water flow, due to the deep water channel linking the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal.

The United Nations Law of the Sea mandates that neighbouring States need to be consulted and sufficient safeguards and guarantees provided.

Fishery resources

There is also concern of the lack of concern on the Indian side, of the unique, biologically rich resource areas linking two Marine Eco systems in the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Bay. Unless accurate forecasts are made ofthe mitigation effects, it could eventually destroy this fragile marine eco system. This is all the more significant in the light of the Northern and North western communities in Sri Lanka being heavily dependent on thefisheries resources of this area.

The concerns that Sri Lanka has expressed are protecting the endangered species, protecting the fisheries resources, the coastal and maritime eco diversity system, integrity of the eco system in the seas around the islandand immediate and long-term ecological stability.

According to research done in Jaffna, by Sri Lanka born Monash University’s Professor of Systems Ecology and UNDP Consultant Prof. Ranil Senanayake,fresh water fish such as Dandiya (Rasbora Daniconius), Tittaya(Amblypharygnodon Melenittus) and Amblypharygnodon Melenittus, migrate down towards underground caverns and chambers, during dry weather and surfacewhen it rains. This also demonstrates the existence of massive underground freshwater caves off Jaffna, with which the salt water of the Palk Straits would mix, if the dredging continues.

This is a shallow area which is highly productive, biologically. As a consequence to the dredging, rare species of mammals, dugongs and fish and invertebrates such as the guitar shark and cone shells would become extinct.

One cone shell (Conus Zonatus and Conus Gloria Maris) is worth around US$3,500 apiece.

Dredging will also reduce the photosynthetic rate, resulting in the collapseof the fishing industry.

Ecological and archaeological concerns

Among a host of serious problems, one major issue is that the canal is to bedug through vesicular limestone, which is a formation of limestone,consequent to the myocene sea encroaching upon parts of Northern Sri Lanka and Southern India. This entails Mannar and Jaffna on the Sri Lankan sideand Tuticorin and Rameswaran on the Indian side, which means that thegroundwater on both sides of the channel, would be affected.

It is also salient that no maritime archaeology has been conducted on thissite. Scientific evidence, in a paper presented by Prof. Senanayake,indicates that 13,000-years ago, the area around the Kalpitiya lagoon, up to Mannar, was forested. Even today, stumps of old trees are found underwater.

There are innumerable stories in Sinhala history, regarding noblemen androyalty living underwater.

Navigational Emergencies

Sri Lanka has proposed that a plan to ensure vessels that cause pollutionand oil spillage are identified and necessary compensation mechanisms put inplace, is established. Sri Lanka should, invariably, be involved in the preparation of contingency plans for oil spills, including modalities towork out the cost of marine pollution and other navigational emergencies and how they be met.

Recommendations

Sri Lanka has also proposed the sharing of information on existing studies and collaboration on further studies and assessments and the setting up of a common database. Also that a Joint Environment Management Plan for impact assessment and monitoring of the project area be established.

Both Sri Lanka and India will be tremendously benefited if the recommendations are implemented to minimize the adverse environmentalimpacts of the SSCP, the Advisory Group has pointed out.

http://www.nation.lk/2007/04/22/newsfe3.htm

Hindus demand: L48 trillion reparation

November 26, 2007

Introduction

Hindus in Malaysia demand 48 trillion pound reparations for their human rights violations by Britain.

The horrendous reports about the attacks on hindu bandhu in Malaysia is a serious issue of violation of human rights. They have demanded reparation from British and have said that they are being treated as second class citizens. It is the responsibility of Hindu India to raise in one voice to support the just case of the hindu in Malaysia. PM and Sonia should call Brit and Malaysian High Commissioners to explain the unconscionable behavior of the Malaysian Government which is reprehensible.

News flash: Nov. 26, 2007 11 am

Hindraf Leaders were discharged from the court today as the Judge was not satisfied with the prosecutors.

Anwar Ibrahim was in court to lend support to the Hindraf leaders.

Hindu lawyers fight for Hindu human rights in Malaysia:

http://www.policewatchmalaysia.com/

Reports on Hindu plight in Malaysia:

http://www.malaysia-today.net/index.shtml

See report in video (aljazeera)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m96FCTKHNA8

http://www.telegraphindia.com/1071126/asp/foreign/story_8592442.asp

Malaysia crushes Indian rally

http://www.jeffooi.com/

http://www.bmahendran.com/ (site jammed?)

http://jelas.info/2007/11/25/hindraf-rally-report/

http://technorati.com/tag/hindraf

http://www.daylife.com/story/0h2yfxe4jN7p0
CNN video http://tinyurl.com/2l2sb5
http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=89b_1195977301
More video links at: http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=ll_c14_1195955645
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6s5lKylKMGE
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWcEuDPXAfs
Malaysia: demolition of Hindu temples (video) 
See pictures: http://hindustantimes.com/PhotoGallery/Photos_StoryPage.aspx?Category=IndiansprotestinMalaysia

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m96FCTKHNA8&feature=user See video of protests and use of chemical weapons by the Malaysian police.
Protests in pictures at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_pictures/7111707.stm
Indian protest rocks Malaysia ahead of polls
Reuters
Kuala Lumpur , November 25, 2007
Malaysia ‘s ethnic Indian community staged its biggest anti-government street protest on Sunday when more than 10,000 protesters defied tear gas and water cannon to voice complaints of racial discrimination.
The sheer size of the protest, called by a Hindu rights group, represents a political challenge for the government as it heads toward possible early elections in the next few months.
Ethnic Indians from around the country swarmed into Kuala Lumpur for the rally, despite a virtual lock-down of the capital over the previous three days and warnings from police and the government that people should not take part.
“Malaysian Indians have never gathered in such large numbers in this way…,” said organiser P. Uthaya Kumar, of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf).
“They are frustrated and have no job opportunities in the government or the private sector. They are not given business licences or places in university,” he said, adding that Indians were also incensed by some recent demolitions of Hindu temples.
Riot police fired at the protesters with sustained volleys of tear gas and jets of water laced with an eye-stinging chemical, but it took more than five hours to finally clear the streets of downtown Kuala Lumpur, by then littered with empty gas canisters.
Veteran journalists and analysts could not recall a bigger anti-government protest by ethnic Indians, who make up about 7 percent of the population, although some said a larger rally had been held over internal Indian politics in the late 1980s.
Political columnist Zainon Ahmad said the protest would shake the Indian community’s establishment party, the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), a junior member of the ruling coalition.
“The MIC is severely challenged on this matter,” he said.
MIC leader S Samy Vellu, who is also works minister, denied the protest spelt trouble for his party. “We represent the Indian community and will remain so,” he said in a statement.
But Vellu, who has himself voiced unease over a recent Hindu temple demolition by local authorities outside the capital, added, “There is still a lot to be done for the Indians and we will continue with our struggle.”
“Lack of opportunities”
Many protesters complained of a lack of educational and business opportunities, saying a government affirmative-action policy in favour of majority ethnic Malays had marginalised them.
Malays make up about 60 percent of the population and, according to official data, remain the poorest group by some average measures such as household income. Opposition groups say the most severe cases of poverty exist among Indians.
Brought over as indentured labour from the late 1800s by colonial ruler Britain, Indians worked Malaya’s rubber estates. These estates were later broken up, forcing many unskilled Indian workers into poverty in the city.
Ostensibly, Sunday’s protesters wanted to hand a petition to the British embassy in support of a legal claim by Hindraf for reparations from Britain for colonial-era abuses. But Hindraf said the protest was also aimed at the Malaysian government.
“We are here for our rights,” one protester told Reuters as he sat cross-legged on the road.
“The British brought our forefathers here 150 years ago,” he added. “Whatever the government is supposed to give us, to look after our welfare, well, they have failed.”
Police fired tear gas outside Kuala Lumpur’s iconic twin towers and five-star hotels. Curious tourists ventured out to take a look but rushed back inside once the gas stung their eyes.
At the Batu Caves, a Hindu place of worship just outside the capital, police clashed with 2,000 protesters early on Sunday after barring entry to the temple.
Many Malaysians, including an Indian Muslim group, opposed the rally, fearing it could spark violence. Malaysia has not experienced a major race riot since 1969, but many seasoned politicians fear racial and religious tensions could flare again.
At least one policeman was injured when protesters hit him with crash helmets, one officer said. Organisers said 400 had been arrested and 19 injured. Police said they had no figures.
It was the second crackdown this month on a demonstration critical of the government, as speculation grows that Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi will call snap elections early next year. The next election is not due until May 2009.
Early in November, about 10,000 protesters demanding electoral reform defied a police ban to rally in the capital.
http://tinyurl.com/23gnj6
Hindraf protesters defiant, about 20,000 showed up in rally
November 25th, 2007 · No Comments
Police roadblocks, police warnings, arrests of top leaders and the prospects of being arrested, fired with tear gas did not deter about 20,000 of Malaysian Indian to show up at a mass rally organized by Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf). The rally was meant to petition the British High Commission for Her Majesty’s support in their bid to sue the British Government for bringing the Indian labours to Malaysia and exploited them for 150 years. Hindraf is seeking a total of RM14 trillion as compensations.
Kuala Lumpur is under siege again today. The rally, which was supposed to be a peaceful gathering as claimed by the organizer, did not get the police permit. The police again showed to the people they meant business. Red trucks, tear gas and chemical-laced water were the order of the day. Unlike the Bersih rally which were unfolding in the midst of heavy downpour, Hindraf protesters had to put up with the tear gas and water cannon without any help from rain, which makes it worse for the women and men who had ignored the police warnings and threats of arrests. It is not known at the time of this writing, how many protesters were injured or arrested, if any.
Attempt to read the latest news updates from Malaysiakini failed as the web-traffic to the independent news portal appears to have gounded to a halt, at least from where I am accessing the site. Access to the news site was extremely slow.
Just two weeks ago, the capital city of Kuala Lumpur witnessed tens of thousands, if not more than 100,000, of people, mostly in yellow, marched to Istana Negara (National Palace) to submit a royal petition seeking help from the King to ensure a free and fair elections in Malaysia. Organized by Bersih, the rally went ahead without police permit and were severely dealt with heavy police presence, scores of arrests, tear gas and water cannon.
Many Malaysians believe their beloved country is transforming into a police-state, if not already one. Peaceful gatrherings and rallies organized by those not in favour of the government were never granted permits by the police and very often than not, dealt with upper hands. Democracy is defintely taking a new shape in Malaysia since the sacking of Anwar almost 10 years ago.
http://www.kualalumpurishome.com/554/hindraf-protesters-defiant-about-20000-showed-up-in-rally/
See: http://www.hindusangam.org.my/
Two things in the morning: Hindraf and fire at Keramat wet market
posted by Hafiz Noor Shams at 9:10 AM on November 25, 2007
I woke to news that tear gas has been fired at crowd again. Unlike the Bersih rally, tear gas seems to have been used more liberally ( via):
Hours before the protest organised by Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) is due to take place, the police have already begun firing tear gas and chemical-laced water to disperse crowds in three areas in Kuala Lumpur – Jalan Ampang, the KLCC and Batu Caves.
The police fired a volley of tear gas at Jalan Ampang at about 7.40am today to disperse a large crowd who had gathered there. The area has been declared a curfew zone by the police, who have issued a ‘arrest on sight’ order.
Earlier, the police also used tear gas to disperse a crowd which gathered at Batu Caves and the Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC) areas.
Despite roadblocks and a tight police cordon to seal off the city, thousands of Indians from all around the country have arrived in Kuala Lumpur since last night.
Some of the protesters were already at Jalan Ampang near Nikko Hotel – a stone throw away from the British High Commission – early this morning.
Despite repeated firing of chemical-laced water against the 2,000-strong crowd, the protestors appeared defiant and refused to budge.
Police presence is heavy and a few arrests have been made. Part of Jalan Ampang is already closed but protesters continue to filter in from all sides. [ Tear gas fired at defiant protesters. Malaysiakini. November 25 2007]
Also, the Keramat wet market caught fire. Judging from words of mouth, about a quarter of it is gone. I plan to visit the market later today to share some shots with readers, just after I charged up my camera’s cell. It went dead while I went hiking at Bukit Tabur again yesterday.
http://kl.metblogs.com/archives/2007/11/two_things_in_the_morning_hind.phtml
Aliran AGM deplores high-handed police action at Hindraf assembly

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Aliran, at its 31st annual general meeting held in Penang today, has expressed its horror at the heavy-handed way the police responded to the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) assembly in Kuala Lumpur this morning.
According to an Al Jazeera correspondent who witnessed events, “police fired water cannons and dozens of rounds of tear gas into the faces of the protesters, turning the demonstration into a street battle.”
Video footage by the station shows the appalling methods employed by the police in dealing with the crowd. The authorities have in effect criminalised the freedom to assemble peacefully – a right guaranteed by the Constitution.  
We are worried that this incident, coming just 15 days after the Bersih assembly to demand electoral reforms, shows that the authorities are displaying absolute disregard for constitutional guarantees. Then, as now, the police used water cannons and tear gas against a peaceful crowd. 
At the Aliran AGM earlier today, P Ramakrishnan was re-elected as president of the social reform group. Also elected were Dr Francis Loh as honorary secretary, Dr Mustafa Kamal Anuar as assistant secretary, and Anil Netto as honorary treasurer.
The new executive committee comprises:
·                                 Dr Prema Devaraj
·                                 Gan Kong Hwee
·                                 Dr Andrew Aeria
·                                 Dr Khoo Boo Teik
·                                 Dr Subramaniam Pillay
·                                 Ong Eu Soon
·                                 Andrew Wong
·                                 Angeline Loh
·                                 Raphael Surin
·                                 Sarajun Hoda Abd Hassan
·                                 Zaharom Nain
R Sivarajah was elected as honorary auditor.
P Ramakrishnan
President
25 November 2007
http://www.aliran.com/content/view/358/11/
Sunday November 25 2007 14:28 IST Report in Tamil Dinamani, Chennai: http://tinyurl.com/2k7r2b

We demand the immediate and unconditional release of Mr. Waytha and his associates

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m96FCTKHNA8&feature=user See video of protests
– Hide quoted text -

8,TODERMAL LANE, BENGALI MARKET, NEW DELHI-110001
                                                                                                           25th November 2007
RT. HON. DATO’
SERI ABDULLAH AHMAD BADAWI
Hon. Prime Minister of Malaysia
Your Highness,
                          The citizens and the Human Rights organisations of India are deeply concerned about violations of Human Rights of the Hindus and other religious minorities in Malaysia who have been marginalized and are destined to remain permanently colonialized .
We are sorry to note that representatives of Hindu community have been denied their fundamental right of peaceful assembly to demand equal rights and considerations from the government of Malaysia at Kuala Lumpur on 25 th Novmber,2007.
We strongly condemn the brutal attack by police authorities on Hindu demonstrators who had gathered to take a petition to the British High Commission at Kuala Lumpur today. We also condemn the    arrest of Human rights activist Mr. P. Waytha Moorthy, Mr. P. Uthayakumar and Mr. V. Ganabatrirau  by the Government of Malaysia.    
We demand the immediate and unconditional release of Mr. Waytha and his associates. We also demand the immediate withdrawal of all the prosecutions and restrictions imposed upon the Human Rights and Hindu activists in Malaysia. 
Rajesh K. Gogna
Convenor

Hindus, police clash in Malaysia
       Story Highlights
       Public transportation into the city was halted
       Protests follow largest demonstration in nearly a decade
       Demonstrators demand equal rights
From Mark Phillips
CNN
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (CNN) — More than 5,000 Hindu protesters met water cannons and tear gas in Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur, on Sunday while demanding equal rights and consideration from the government.
Despite clashes with police, there were no reports of injuries during the planned protest. Some protesters threw rocks at the water cannon trucks, but others were urging peaceful demonstrations.
Public transportation into the city was stopped, hindering protesters from coming in.
Police stopped protesters as they tried to take a petition to the British High Commission. Talks were under way for authorities to allow six protesters to deliver the petition, should the crowd disperse.
Earlier this month, riot police used water hoses and tear gas against thousands of protesters demanding electoral reform, the largest demonstration in Kuala Lumpur in nearly a decade.
http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/asiapcf/11/25/malaysia.protests/index.html
Malaysian police break up rally
Malaysian police have clashed with ethnic Indian protesters in Kuala Lumpur, the country’s capital.
Tear gas and water cannon were used to disperse a crowd of over 5,000 people as they rallied outside the British High Commission.
The protesters are calling for reparations from the UK for sending Indians to Malaysia as indentured labourers a century ago.
The activists also demand measures to improve the living standards of Hindus.
At least 5,000 ethnic Indian men gathered outside Kuala Lumpur’s famous Petronas Towers, carrying Malaysian flags and placards.
Some demonstrators were beaten and bundled into police vans, as tear gas and water cannon were fired into the crowd, according to the Associated Press news agency.
Unfair treatment
Organisers had pledged that the demonstration would be peaceful, but Malaysian authorities nevertheless banned it, fearing that it could inflame racial tensions.
“Indians are treated like third-class citizens”
M. Kulasegaran, Opposition politician

The ostensible aim of the rally was to call on the British government to pay $4 trillion (£2 trillion) in compensation to the two million ethnic Indians in Malaysia whose ancestors were taken to the country as indentured labourers in the 19th century.
But the BBC’s Robin Brant in Kuala Lumpur says the real goal of the demonstrators is to highlight what they see as the unfair treatment of minority Indians in Malaysia.
Ethnic Indians – mainly Hindus – form one of Malaysia’s largest minority groups.
Activists say that many Hindus live in poverty, partly because of policies granting jobs and economic advantages to the ethnic Malay Muslim majority.
“Indians are treated like third-class citizens. The community has been suffering in silence for decades,” said opposition politician M. Kulasegaran.
The government has rejected claims of unfair discrimination.
In advance of the rally, three leading members of the group behind the protest – the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) – were arrested.
The three men were later charged with making seditious comments – and could face up to three years in jail if convicted.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7111646.stm
Malaysian police tear gas ethnic Indian rally: witnesses
1 hour ago
KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) — Malaysian police fired tear gas at ethnic Indian protestors rallying here Sunday in support of a multi-trillion dollar lawsuit that blames Britain for their economic problems, witnesses said.
At least 8,000 protestors defied a ban and pushed their way towards the British High Commission (embassy) to deliver a petition despite a heavy security presence and blockade of roads leading to the building.
Police also used water cannons on the crowd who had gathered near the iconic Petronas Twin Towers but the protestors refused to budge while some threw the tear gas canisters back.
Chemicals used in the water cannons cause nausea and force people to gasp for air.
Witnesses said police beat up some protestors with batons. Organisers said at least 400 people were arrested and 19 injured. Police, however, said more than 100 people had been detained.
“Over the last 50 years Indian have been marginalised in this country and we now want the same rights as enjoyed by other communities,” M. Kulasegaran, opposition lawmaker with the Democratic Action Party (DAP), told AFP.
“They have no rights to stop us from protesting today. This is the will of the people,” he said.
The lawsuit targets Britain, Malaysia’s former colonial ruler, and is aimed at highlighting what ethnic Indians here say is continuing discrimination by the Malay-Muslim majority government.
It seeks four trillion dollars’ compensation for the estimated two million ethnic Indians whose ancestors were brought here as indentured labourers by Britain in the 1800s — two million dollars each.
The gathering is organised by the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf).
The activists are also demanding the government boost the social and economic standards of minority Hindus, who make up the third largest community in Malaysia.
After six hours of confrontations, police allowed Hindraf to submit the petition but the offer was rejected.
P. Uthayakumar, Hindraf’s legal adviser, said the petition would be delivered to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II in London. The crowd then dispersed following pleas from organisers.
The petition asks for Britain to appoint a lawyer to represent them in their case.
Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, minister in the prime minister’s department, backed police use of force.
“This protest is illegal. The police have been given permission to use legitimate means to halt the gathering. And this means the use of tear gas and water cannons,” he told AFP.
Lim Kit Siang, opposition lawmaker and chairman of the DAP, said the excessive use of police force “is most high-handed, ham-fisted and undemocratic.”
The government had banned the rally, fearing it could spark racial violence and warned that anyone who participated would be detained.
Demonstrators condemned the tough police action and said that they would not be not silenced.
N. Vijayan, 40, an engineer, said the Indian community had been marginalised for too long.
“This demonstration should be a wake-up call for the government that we are really upset with its policies,” he said.
Ethnic Indians, mainly Tamils, account for eight percent of Malaysia’s population. A large proportion lack skills, money and education.
Forming 60 percent of the nation’s 27 million people, ethnic Malay Muslims make up the majority group, while 26 percent are Chinese.
Malaysia won its independence from Britain 50 years ago.
http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5ghlmMmVSzOBxkHbZh5sJYL0kdODA
Indian protest rocks Malaysia ahead of polls
Sun Nov 25, 2007 2:52am EST
By Mark Bendeich and Clarence Fernandez
KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysia’s ethnic Indian community staged its biggest anti-government street protest on Sunday when more than 10,000 protesters defied tear gas and water cannon to voice complaints of racial discrimination.
The sheer size of the protest, called by a Hindu rights group, represents a political challenge for the government as it heads toward possible early elections in the next few months.
Ethnic Indians from around the country swarmed into Kuala Lumpur for the rally, despite a virtual lock-down of the capital over the previous three days and warnings from police and the government that people should not take part.
“Malaysian Indians have never gathered in such large numbers in this way…,” said organizer P. Uthaya Kumar, of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf).
“They are frustrated and have no job opportunities in the government or the private sector. They are not given business licenses or places in university,” he said, adding that Indians were also incensed by some recent demolitions of Hindu temples.
Riot police fired at the protesters with sustained volleys of tear gas and jets of water laced with an eye-stinging chemical, but it took more than five hours to finally clear the streets of downtown Kuala Lumpur, by then littered with empty gas canisters.
Veteran journalists and analysts could not recall a bigger anti-government protest by ethnic Indians, who make up about 7 percent of the population, although some said a larger rally had been held over internal Indian politics in the late 1980s.
Political columnist Zainon Ahmad said the protest would shake the Indian community’s establishment party, the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), a junior member of the ruling coalition.
“The MIC is severely challenged on this matter,” he said.
MIC leader S. Samy Vellu, who is also works minister, denied the protest spelt trouble for his party. “We represent the Indian community and will remain so,” he said in a statement.
But Vellu, who has himself voiced unease over a recent Hindu temple demolition by local authorities outside the capital, added: “There is still a lot to be done for the Indians and we will continue with our struggle.”
“LACK OF OPPORTUNITIES”
Many protesters complained of a lack of educational and business opportunities, saying a government affirmative-action policy in favor of majority ethnic Malays had marginalized them.
Malays make up about 60 percent of the population and, according to official data, remain the poorest group by some average measures such as household income. Opposition groups say the most severe cases of poverty exist among Indians.
Brought over as indentured labor from the late 1800s by colonial ruler Britain, Indians worked Malaya’s rubber estates. These estates were later broken up, forcing many unskilled Indian workers into poverty in the city.
Ostensibly, Sunday’s protesters wanted to hand a petition to the British embassy in support of a legal claim by Hindraf for reparations from Britain for colonial-era abuses. But Hindraf said the protest was also aimed at the Malaysian government.
“We are here for our rights,” one protester told Reuters as he sat cross-legged on the road.
“The British brought our forefathers here 150 years ago,” he added. “Whatever the government is supposed to give us, to look after our welfare, well, they have failed.”
Police fired tear gas outside Kuala Lumpur’s iconic twin towers and five-star hotels. Curious tourists ventured out to take a look but rushed back inside once the gas stung their eyes.
At the Batu Caves, a Hindu place of worship just outside the capital, police clashed with 2,000 protesters early on Sunday after barring entry to the temple.
Many Malaysians, including an Indian Muslim group, opposed the rally, fearing it could spark violence. Malaysia has not experienced a major race riot since 1969, but many seasoned politicians fear racial and religious tensions could flare again.
At least one policeman was injured when protesters hit him with crash helmets, one officer said. Organizers said 400 had been arrested and 19 injured. Police said they had no figures.
It was the second crackdown this month on a demonstration critical of the government, as speculation grows that Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi will call snap elections early next year. The next election is not due until May 2009.
Early in November, about 10,000 protesters demanding electoral reform defied a police ban to rally in the capital.
(Additional reporting by Mark Bendeich, Jalil Hamid, Naveen Thukral and Liau Y-Sing; editing by Roger Crabb)
http://www.reuters.com/article/newsMaps/idUSKLR16504820071125
Crackdown on ethnic Indian community’s protest march in Malaysia
November 25th, 2007 – 1:53 pm ICT by admin
Kula Lumpur, Nov 25 (ANI): A protest march by ethnic Indian community in Malaysia had to face severe police action as tear gas shells and water laced with chemicals were shot at them.
The ethnic Indians, who are a minority here, were protesting against the discrimination faced by them by the government in areas like employment and business opportunities.
There were around 4,000 protestors who were shouting anti-government slogans on Sunday.
Ethnic Indian minorities were banned from holding the protest march by the government, which cited that the demonstration could lead to racial unrest.
This is second time in a month when authorities here have launched a crackdown on Indian community, who constitutes close to seven percent of Malaysia’s total population. (ANI) http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/south-asia/crackdown-on-ethnic-indian-communitys-protest-march-in-malaysia_1006540.html
Police fire tear gas on ethnic Indian protesters in Malaysia
Sunday November 25 2007 09:34 IST
PTI
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian police on Sunday fired tear gas and water cannon to prevent thousands of ethnic Indians from taking part in a rally, declared “illegal” by the government, outside the British High Commission here.

The demonstrators, who had gathered outside the Petronas Twin Towers, the second largest building in the world, were beaten and dragged into trucks by the police, witnesses said.

The rally call had been given by Hindu Rights Action Force (HINDRAF), a non governmental agency, which has held the British government responsible for bringing Indians to the then Malaya as “indentured laborers” and exploiting them”.

It has claimed a compensation of four trillion US dollars. Thousands of ethnic Indians, a few carrying photos of Mahatma Gandhi had assembled before dawn near the Petronas Towers.

Several hundreds more had gathered in Batu Caves, a limestone cave Murugan Temple on the city’s outskirts.

The government had warned of stiff action if the protesters went ahead with their plans to assemble before the British High Commission at Jalan Ampang here to present a memorandum signed by over 100,000 ethnic Indians.

Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi on Saturday said street demonstrations were not the way for people to voice their grouses.

“We are not a nation where the people cannot voice their grievances, but it has to be done in the proper way. We have elections…They can contest, they can campaign, ask for votes,” the premier said in Kampala.

The rally was the second such street protest in Kuala Lumpur this month. The last protest was on November 10 where thousands of people gathered to demand electoral reforms.

Street demonstrations are extremely rare in multi-ethnic Malaysia.

http://tinyurl.com/2cfknt

Rama Setu demolition cultural terrorism – Kalraj

November 26, 2007

November 25, 2007 Sunday 2:57 PM EST

155 words

Demolition of Ram Setu cultural terrorism: Kalraj

Hindustan Times

NEW DELHI, India

NEW DELHI, India, Nov. 25 — FORMER MINISTER and Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Kalraj Mishra alleged that the proposed demolition of the Ram Setu for the shipping canal project was like ‘cultural terrorism’ of the Congress-led UPA government.

Mishra, along with BJP MLC Jai Prakash Chaturvedi performed worship of the pious ‘shila’ at the local office of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) in Varanasi on Sunday morning. The ‘shila’ was said to have been brought from Rameshwaram.

Mishra said it was the duty of the Hindus to protect the ancient Ram Setu.

City president of the VHP Dr Anil Tiwari, secretary of Dharmsangh, Jagjitan Pandey, Anand Shanker Singh Advocate Rakesh Trivedi, Satya Prakash Tiwari, Umesh Dutt Pathak, Satyendra Upadhyaya, Pramod Nigam, Ajay Singh, Nandlal, Dr Ram Prasad Singh and Vijay Chaurasia participated in the programme.

http://tinyurl.com/348bml

Setu world heritage, requires heritage clearance

November 26, 2007

Mega projects like Setu require heritage clearance from Min. of Culture

The implementation of the proposed rules in letter and spirit should be proved by an immediate and formal declaration that Rama Setu is a monument of national importance and that UNESCO will be asked to declare it as world heritage.

The World Heritage List includes 851 properties forming part of the cultural and natural heritage which the World Heritage Committee considers as having outstanding universal value.

These include 660 cultural , 166 natural and 25 mixed properties in 141 States Parties. As of October 2006, 184 States Parties have ratified the World Heritage Convention.

http://whc.unesco.org/pg.cfm?cid=31 

For the proposed rules to be implemented fairly, ASI should have archaeologists. Such archaeologists should also understand heritage and have the competence to recognize Rama Setu as heritage. Such archaeologists should also not become politicised under directions from people like Ambika Soni and submit affidavits to SC only to be withdrawn.

Since Tamilnadu Government has virtually recognized Rama Setu (Setubandhanam) as divyakshetram and exhorting millions of tourists to visit Rameshwaram (See Tamilnadu Tourism Corporation poster below), Govt. of India and Tamilnadu Government should scrap the Setusamudram project, disband the Baalu committee and declare in the Parliament that henceforth, Rama Setu shall be deemed to be a monument of national importance and a proposal will be sent to UNESCO to declare the monument as world heritage.

kalyan

Advertisement poster by India Tourism

Rama Bhakti adored by Tamilnadu Government

Where the past comes alive…

This is the title of the poster published by Tamilnadu Government Tourism Corporation.

On this poster, with Rama and Lakshmana standing nearby, an episode is depicted as a painting showing Vanara carrying large boulders    to construct a bridge in the ocean.

Apart from this,

“…even now, these waters stand carrying the blessings of Rama’s lotus feet;… this is the spot where the Vanara Sena crossed the ocean to reach Sri Lanka to rescue Sita”

…so says, the Tamilnadu Government Tourism Corporation on this poster. These advertisement posters are depicted on the train carriages of Haridwar-Delhi Janashatabdi Express train.

In this, Tamilnadu Tourism Department is clear that none need entertain any doubts about the existence of Rama Setu. The pamphlet of the department states: “A particular attraction to be seen in this site is the floating stone called Setubandhana used to construct the bridge.”

On the one hand, Chief Minister says, ‘Rama Setu does NOT exist, Rama does NOT exist, all are imaginations'; on the other hand, his Tamilnadu Government, advertises and tries to earn revenue by advertising an episode from Rama’s life and peoples’ bhakti for Rama.

Whether the bhakta-s believe it or not, Chief Minister’s (Kalaijnar’s) Tamilnadu Government believes that eulogies to Rama will yield prosperity.

n       Information provided by M. Srinivasan, Chennai (Thuglak, 10 October 2007)

n

Blurb from the Tamilnadu Tourism Development Corporation poster and pamphlet inviting tourists to Rameshwaram:

The floating stone ‘Sethu bandanam’ used to build the sethu Bridge is worth seeing here.

http://kalyan98.wordpress.com

Mega projects will soon need heritage clearance


Nidhi Sharma | New Delhi


New infrastructure projects, including Special Economic Zones (SEZs), railway lines and bridges, Metro, dams and highways, would soon need heritage clearances. Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is all set to introduce amendments to the existing rules that would make it mandatory for all Government agencies and private firms to conduct heritage impact assessments, similar to environment studies, before starting a project.

This would be done to ensure the new projects do not endanger heritage or existing protected and unprotected monuments. The ASI is calling this initiative “salvage heritage”. At present, there are no rules that protect heritage sites from damage done by new infrastructure projects. The ASI, which is reviewing its Ancient Monuments and Archeological Sites and Remains Rules 1959, has introduced an amendment to protect heritage sites and unprotected monuments.

Speaking to The Pioneer, ASI Director-General Anshu Vaish said, “We have decided to expand the ambit of rules and bring them in sync with the modern times. A lot of development is taking place within our cities and we are facing new challenges. In Delhi, for instance, the Metro network is expanding and we face new situations that the present rules cannot tackle. So we want civic agencies to first conduct studies to see if their project has an impact on any heritage site or monument.”

Now the new rules propose that a no-objection certificate would be required from ASI before the project is started. However, all projects would not need clearances. The new rules lay down specifics — like the size of the SEZ or proximity to a heritage site — for it to need a clearance. Under the present rules, there are no safeguards for unprotected monuments. The amendments to the rules lay down heavy penalties for damage to unprotected monuments also.

Culture ministry sources said that Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) work in south Delhi, with several unprotected heritage monuments, which has made ASI introduce this clause. According to sources, the penalties for damage to protected and unprotected monuments have been increased under the rules. The process for recovering penalties has also been made simpler. The present rules prescribe a maximum fine of Rs 5,000 or three months’ simple imprisonment or both if a monument is defaced or damaged. This fine has been increased from Rs 5,000 to Rs 50,000. Sources said that if a private firm or Government agency does not conduct proper studies or takes clearances before starting a project the fines could be as high as Rs 1 to 5-lakh.

A senior Culture Ministry official said, “We want to introduce preventive fines. They are so high because it should pinch the builder’s pocket if he does some wrong.” The new rules prescribe the same treatment for protected and unprotected monuments as well. There are 3,667 ASI protected monuments in India. However, there are several monuments that are unprotected. “They are unprotected does not mean that they hold no heritage value for India. This is why studies need to be conducted and clearances taken before a project is initiated,” said an official.

The new rules are also trying to take note of technology. The new rules do not address technological progress like mobile photography. ASI still charges Rs 25 for videofilming done inside monuments. “But there are advanced mobiles that are used for videofilming now. How does one stop that? So now under the new rules a fee would be charged only if complicated equipment like a tripod or some other filming gadgets are taken inside. This fee will also be increased to Rs 500,” said the official. The draft of amendments is ready and would now be sent to the Culture Ministry for Cabinet approval. 

http://tinyurl.com/ghh7g

World heritage: definition To establish an international system of cooperation and assistance with a standpoint that it is important to protect cultural and natural heritage against the threat of damage and destruction and preserve them as world heritage of humanityHistory of the Treaty     (1)  Nov. 1972: adopted at the 17th General Conference of UNESCO     (2)  Dec. 1975: took effect (ratified by 20 State Parties)     (3)  Jun. 1992: The Japanese Diet approved of concluding the treaty. (the 125th nation to approve it)     (4)  Mar. 2004: 177 States Parties have ratified the Convention.Outline of the Treaty     (1)  Each State Party will acknowledge and protect cultural and natural heritage of universal value.     (2)  The World Heritage Committee (*1) organized in UNESCO will make a World Heritage List (hereafter referred to as “the List”) based on the nominations submitted by States Parties.     (3)  The World Heritage Committee will give necessary assistance to World Heritage sites inscribed on the List upon request of State Parties.     (4)  State Parties will make contributions of less than 1% of their share of expenses of UNESCO to the World Heritage Fund.Nomination and Registration to the List     (1)  State Parties will nominate sites within national territories for inclusion on the List by the closing date (Dec. 1 by 2000 and Feb. 2 as of 2002).     (2)  The nominated sites will be assessed by the NGOs concerned —— cultural heritage by ICOMOS (*2) and natural heritage by IUCN.     (3)  The decision concerning new entries on the List will be made at the World Heritage Committee held in June following the closing date.Tentative List of World Heritage      *   State Parties are encouraged to submit to the Committee a list of sites considered appropriate to be inscribed on the List.      *   This list is called a “tentative list”, consisting of the sites that State Parties are planning to nominate during the coming 5 – 10 years.      *   Tentative lists will be used to broadly study and compare the values of recommended sites.      *   As for cultural heritage, only those named on tentative lists can be included on the World Heritage List. *1 The World Heritage Committee:
The Committee is composed of approximately a dozen representative observers and experts who have been elected from the 21 State Parties. The Committee meets once a year and fulfills the following four roles:
(1) To register superior cultural and natural properties as World Heritage
(2) To coordinate with countries after registration and continue to monitor the state of conservation
(3) To conclude if certain properties are endangered and to inscribe them on the List of World Heritage in Danger
(4) To give assistance to the State Parties of the World Heritage Convention by effectively allocating financial aid from the World Heritage Fund
*2 ICOMOS
(The International Council on Monuments and Sites)
:
A council aimed at the protection of monuments and sites. Responsible for the investigation and evaluation of properties wishing to be listed as Cultural Heritage. The World Heritage makes the final decision as to weather a property’s application is accepted; however the local investigation and comments made by ICOMOS are extremely important.
 

http://www2.pref.shimane.jp/ginzan/e/wheritage/w_heritage01.html

What is world heritage?

Definition of World Heritage Source: Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention, II.A Cultural and Natural Heritage Cultural and natural heritage are defined in Articles 1 and 2 of the World Heritage Convention.


Article 1

For the purposes of this Convention, the following shall be considered as “cultural heritage”; – monuments: architectural works, works of monumental sculpture and painting, elements or structures of an archaeological nature, inscriptions, cave dwellings and combinations of features, which are of outstanding universal value from the point of view of history, art or science;

- groups of buildings: groups of separate or connected buildings which, because of their architecture, their homogeneity or their place in the landscape, are of outstanding universal value from the point of view of history, art or science;

- sites: works of man or the combined works of nature and of man, and areas including archaeological sites which are of outstanding universal value from the historical, aesthetic, ethnological or anthropological points of view.

Article 2

For the purposes of this Convention, the following shall be considered as “natural heritage”: – natural features consisting of physical and biological formations or groups of such formations, which are of outstanding universal value from the aesthetic or scientific point of view;
geological and physiographical formations and precisely delineated areas which constitute the habitat of threatened species of animals and plants of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation;

- natural sites or precisely delineated natural areas of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science, conservation or natural beauty.

Mixed Cultural and Natural Heritage

Properties shall be considered as “mixed cultural and natural heritage” if they satisfy a part or the whole of the definitions of both cultural and natural heritage laid out in Articles 1 and 2 of the Convention.

Cultural Landscapes

Cultural landscapes are cultural properties and represent the “combined works of nature and of man” designated in Article 1 of the Convention. They are illustrative of the evolution of human society and settlement over time, under the influence of the physical constraints and/or opportunities presented by their natural environment and of successive social, economic and cultural forces, both external and internal.

Movable Heritage

Nominations of immovable heritage which are likely to become movable will not be considered.

Outstanding Universal Value

Outstanding universal value means cultural and/or natural significance which is so exceptional as to transcend national boundaries and to be of common importance for present and future generations of all humanity. As such, the permanent protection of this heritage is of the highest importance to theinternational community as a whole.

The Committee defines the criteria for the inscription of properties on the World Heritage List. States Parties are invited to submit nominations of properties of cultural and/or natural value considered to be of “outstanding universal value” for inscription on the World Heritage List.

At the time of inscription of a property on the World Heritage List, the Committee adopts a Statement of Outstanding Universal Value (see paragraph 154) which will be the key reference for the future effective protection and management of the property. The Convention is not intended to ensure the protection of all properties of great interest, importance or value, but only for a select list of the most outstanding of these from an international viewpoint. It is not to be assumed that a property of national and/or regional importance will automatically be inscribed on the World Heritage List.

Nominations presented to the Committee shall demonstrate the full commitment of the State Party to preserve the heritage concerned, within its means. Such commitment shall take the Operational Guidelines for the form of appropriate policy, legal, scientific, technical, administrative and financial measures adopted and proposed to protect the property and its outstanding universal value.

http://west-pac.unescobkk.org/index.php?id=2904

Setu project fundamentally flawed — Dr. Swamy

November 26, 2007

Sethusamudram project: fundamentally flawed

Subramanian SWAMY

I oppose the rupture of Ram Sethu to dredge out a seabed furrow called the Sethusamudram channel on religious, economic, environmental and national security grounds. However, even if the project is economically viable, which it is not, environmentally acceptable, and safe from the perspective of national security, I will still oppose it, because breaking a 300-metre wide passage through the Ram Sethu is sacrilegious.

To the question, “Ram Sethu hai (Is there a Ram Sethu)?” I reply, “Ram se tu hai (You are from Ram).”

The central premise of the project that it is economically viable is based on the assumption that it will reduce travel time for ships from the west of India to the east, without having to go in a circular arc around Sri Lanka, as at present.

The DPR (detailed project report) prepared by L&T-Ramboll for the project calculates the distance and time thus saved for ships using Tuticorin and Kanyakumari as starting points and reaching Chennai at an average of 335 nautical miles and 30 hours respectively. But the error in the calculation is in assuming that all ships will save 30 hours or save 335 nautical miles.

http://www.dailynews.lk/2007/11/26/z_p09-seth.jpg

For example, ships from Europe, West Asia and Africa will save much less time than ships moving from the east to the west coast of India. This is because ships sailing on open seas will travel at double the speed than permitted inside the channel, and the arc around Sri Lanka is of less curvature when coming from Mauritius or Europe and going to Kolkata.

At the current tariff levels proposed in the Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project (details in my forthcoming book: Defending the Ram Sethu), ships will in fact find it cheaper to travel around Sri Lanka rather than use the channel.

The project also calculates Indian and foreign interest rates for loans of nearly Rs 1,800 crores at half the current market rates, thus significantly understating the amortisation of the loans, and therefore grossly underestimates the cost of the channel.

This naturally lowers the internal rate of return (IRR) on the project in a present value calculation, at less than 2.5%. No public sector project is permitted at such low IRR.

The usual way to calculate the economic viability of a project is to estimate the revenues over time, as well as the fixed and variable costs of the project.

The net benefit to ships is calculated on the assumption of the tariff to be paid by ship traffic through the proposed channel, and set against the costs saved by taking a shorter route via the channel.

Moreover, the now proposed 167 km long Sethusamudram shipping channel, created by dredging the ocean floor to a depth of 12 metres and a width of 300 metres, can structurally allow the passage of ships of only 30,000 DWT or lower tonnage.

However, most ocean-going ships today are above 30,000 DWT in weight and thus cannot use the channel.

And yet, the DPR is premised on 3,000 or more ships passing through the channel, when the number can never be above 500 in the most optimistic projection.

Other substantive objections are that the project is a financial disaster that will guzzle resources on maintenance since it will require continuous dredging of sand; is environmentally non-sustainable, in fact hazardous; and will facilitate terrorists such as the LTTE to go from north of the Ram Sethu in Jaffna area to Tuticorin, which they cannot do at present.

The legendary bridge of coral reefs and rocks was built, according to the Ramayana, on the direction of Lord Ram. That such a causeway of coral rocks and reefs exists has been established by modern satellite photographs.

That it was constructed, and is not a natural formation was established by Dr S. Badrinarayanan, formerly director of the Geological Survey of India. His report has been so far hidden from the Supreme Court by Ms Ambika Soni, the Union minister for culture.

The channel route chosen, of the total six that had been suggested from 1860 till 2005, involves cutting through the Ram Sethu. Interestingly, all the other five alignments suggested earlier, before or after Independence, called for skirting the Ram Sethu and cutting through land, either on the mainland at Mandappam, or through Pambam Island.

The government’s insistence on hurting the feelings of nearly a billion Hindus by preferring this non-viable channel is perhaps explained by the mindsets of Sonia Gandhi, M. Karunanidhi and Kancha Ilaiah.

To navigate the channel, a ship will first have to start slowing down two hours before reaching the mouth of the channel.

Then it will have to follow several procedures leading to dropping of anchor and waiting for a pilot to board the ship to steer it through the fragile channel at half the speed of its open sea route. All this will consume 15 hours. Between October and December, cyclonic storms and winter monsoon will make the channel unusable.

The DPR underestimates the total fuel cost as it does not mandate the use of low sulphur diesel in the ecologically sensitive Palk Bay biosphere reserve area.

In fact, there is no mention at all of low sulphur diesel that should be used in these areas. Our estimates for fuel savings are extracted from the L&T-Ramboll DPR, which simply states that the “ships will use IFO in the open seas and MDO in the channel where there is a restriction, and a need for a better vehicle response.”

Thus, it is false to state that there will be a substantial saving on fuel costs by using the Sethusamudram channel. On the contrary, there will be a substantial loss of $500 to $950 depending on the tonnage of the ship.

The viability of the project thus rests on a set of assumptions that are fundamentally flawed. It assumes savings for all ships are the same, when they are actually very different. Revenue and time saved have been vastly over-estimated, while costs of dredging and maintenance grossly under-estimated.

The project will also deprive thousands of fishermen living in Tamil Nadu’s coastal districts of Thoothukudi, Ramanathapuram and Pudukkottai of their livelihood.

Its impact on the fragile Gulf of Mannar will be disastrous. According to a report in Business Line on October 16, the project and fishing activities are mutually exclusive. The nation has to choose one or the other: Fishing or ship channel.

Tamil Nadu’s fishermen have not been told this secret yet.

The Sethu project has been justified on the basis of the cost savings estimates for ships using the channel. These cost savings have not been adequately detailed out and in fact the actual savings for ships using the channel have been grossly exaggerated.

This is especially true for ships coming from Europe, Africa or other locations. The fuel savings for many of these ships is in fact negative, while the total savings (including reduction in time charter) actually works out to just 30% of what is claimed by the L&T-Ramboll DPR for most non-coastal ships.

The significantly lower level of savings implies that the tariff that can be charged by the channel will be much lower than that claimed by the DPR. This has significant revenue implications as over 60 per cent of ships which “benefit” will not want to pay the amount as claimed in the DPR.

This project will be a financial white elephant. In particular, the DPR over-estimates revenue, under-estimates the cost, and chooses an absurdly low rate of interest to discount the net benefits to obtain a high per cent value to justify the project. We cannot allow the government to fool around with the public in this manner.

“I don’t think this project will ever see the light of day because there is no money,” said Ashish Kumar Singh, vice-president of capital markets at Axis Bank Ltd., to The Mint on September 24, 2007. Axis, formerly known as UTI Bank, was appointed as the “loan arranger” for the project in 2005.

Since the project’s inception in 2004, costs have skyrocketed to at least Rs 4,000 crores, interest rates have crawled higher and old loan terms have lapsed. Mr Singh said that the project was languishing because “no company will dredge the channel for cheap and Indian dredging companies don’t have the required equipment.”

Even before the first dredger began its work in 2005, costs had already spiralled to more than Rs 3,500 crores, Singh said. The loan sanctions, valid only up to Rs 2,400 crores, lapsed.

To secure more money, he said, Sethusamudram Corporation Limited would have to return to the drawing board, draw up new reports, sit with parliamentary committees and receive fresh approval.

As of now, the expected shipping will not amortise the cost (including maintenance, regular dredging, costs of pilots, tugs, support vessels, communication and radar infrastructure), leave alone earn profits.

Who then will use the channel, even if we overlook the LTTE Sea Tiger threat, the ever-present problem of cyclones, piracy, smuggling, marine pollution, fights over fishing rights, gun and drug running mafia operations, tsunami etc.?

There is also the security angle to be considered. Once the channel becomes operational, policing it would require a major increase in the assets of the Indian Coast Guard, customs and marine police in Rameshwaram and Tuticorin.

Keeping in mind the proximity of Tuticorin to the Palk Bay because of the channel, the Indian Navy too may have to consider permanently basing some assets in Tuticorin for more intensive surveillance, for the protection of future oil exploration rigs, and to ensure a quick response to threats from the LTTE.

The writer is a former Union Cabinet Minister for Commerce, Law and Justice.

http://www.dailynews.lk/2007/11/26/fea05.asp

Setu; a booklet by CM Kalaijnar (A book review)

November 23, 2007

Nov. 23, 2007

Setu – a booklet by CM Kalaijnar (A book review)

Said to contain letters written by CM Kalaijnar to his brothers and sisters and published in Murasoli with evidences, DMK Party has published this booklet on 22 Nov. 2007. One lakh copies of the booklet are said to have been printed and is priced at Rs. 5 (See the Hindu Report of 22 Nov. 2007).

There has been a blurring of roles. The book’s author is cited as Chief Minister (mudalvar in Tamil). The book also contains letters allegedly written in his capacity as CM. How come DMK party can get hold of these letters? How come MuKa releases such letters in violation of the Official Secrets Act?

The interesting facets of the book are not in what it reveals but in what it does not. There is no response to the serious objections raised related to national security, coastline security, tsunami protection measures, thorium accumulations, creation of international waters boundary, nautical issues related to virtually no savings in navigation time and navigational hazards.

The title is called, ‘setu’. The learned author does not explain its meaning. Maybe, he knows that according to a Tamil encyclopaedia, Abhidana Kos’am, the word ‘setu’ means: ceyar karai (that is, man-made bund). The English word, ‘bund’ comes from the word, ‘bandhanam’ in all bharatiya languages including Tamil. Rames’waram in tamil tradition and in many cartographs is called Setubandha Rames’waram. It is also surprising that he does not refer to the copper plate (Velanjeri) of Parantaka Chola of 10th century referring to Setutirtham. He does not even refer to Cilappadikaram which contains references to Kannagi, the embodiment of Tamil culture. The same text of a Jaina Muni, Ilango Adigal contains reference to Rama and Kannagi’s prayer to Korkai (Durga). Maybe, the learned CM was constrained for space in Murasoli in bringing out these evidences. Suggestio falsi, suppression veri is an usual technique of many poiticians. It is unfortunate CM also falls a prey to this practice and gives a false view of the economics of the project, without even referring to the advice of the learned A Ramaswamy Mudaliar who gave the first report in 1961 in independent India recommending that cutting a channel passage through Rama Setu (Adam’s bridge) should be abandoned. Selective amnesia is the hallmark of many politicians; afterall, MuKa (called Mudalvar Kalaijnar as the author of the booklet) is no exception to this affliction called amnesia. Maybe, he is cautious in view of the many court cases he is facing on the issue of his statements about his intimate knowledge of Valmiki’s, Tulasidas’s works. He cites Rajaji and he fails to cite from the Tamil sangam works including Akananooru which refer to Rama Setu. Kalaijnar wears many robes and the blurring of his position as CM and as party chief of DMK is the most serious manifestation.

CM the author does not even refer to his own government’s posters issued through Tamilnadu Tourism Corporation inviting tourists to visit Rama Setu built with floating stones and the seas touched by Sri Rama’s feet, making it a divyakshetram.

Maybe, CM is thinking of issuing an ordinance declaring Rames’waram as divyakshetram and announcing the abandonment of the setu project which is a project disaster. It is statesmanship to recognize blunders and back down. Will MuKa back down and work out alternatives for developing the coastal regions of Bharatam along the 7,500 km. coastline from Vis’akhapatnam to Okhla? And make Bharatam the vallaras’u in an Indian Ocean Community (Hindumahasagar Parivaar)?

It is a dream which will have a good chance of getting fulfilled. If, alternatives such as pipelines for oil products from west coast to eastcoast and railwayline between Thuthukudi and Villupuram are evaluated together with improving the Pamban gap channel and container facilities of both Thuthukudi and Colombo as a measure of cooperation between neighbouring countries who share the HISTORIC waters (see Indira_sirimavo declaration of June 1974).

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Tamilnadu Government website says the following about Rama Setu and Rameshwaram as divyakshetram (like Tirumala) with reference to floating stones used to build the bridge (Setu).

Quote: The stone said to have used to construct the floating bridge Sethu Bandanam could be seen here…

Tourist Office,
14, East Car Street,
Rameswaram.
Ph: 221371 http://www.ramnad.tn.nic.in/tourism.htm

RAMESWARAM

The Holy abode of the Hindu God, Shri Ram (addressed so with all respect & humility) is a virtual paradise for the devout.  No Hindu’s journey is complete without a pilgrimage to both Varanasi and Rameswaram for the culmination of his quest for salvation and is hallowed by the epic ‘Ramayana’. Folklore mentions about God Ram’s presence in this land, after his 14-year exile. 

Local legend has it that Shri Ram was helped back into Rameswaram and into   India   by his brother  Lakshman and Hanuman along with his band of thousands of monkeys, after finally emerging victorious against the demon – Ravana. They helped build a bridge with rocks from the sea and shores to cross the ‘Sethu canal’ and reach   India.   Lord Rama is also believed to have sanctified this place by worshipping and glorifying Lord Shiva and hence marks the confluence of Shaivism and Vaishnavism and is thus revered by both Shaivites and Vaishnavites alike and thus there is a strong belief that bathing in the 22 ‘Theerthams’ or natural springs is a step forward in enlightenment. Therefore, Rameswaram has rightly been declared as one of the National Pilgrim Centres in the count.

The Ramanathaswamy temple by itself is a delight for every tourist. With its magnificent, imposing structure, long corridors, aesthetically carved pillars, the temple is adorned with a towering 38-metre ‘Gopuram’. The temple itself was built by rulers since the 12th century with Sethupathy Maravar beginning the construction of the grand Ramanathaswamy temple that boasts of the ‘Third Corridor’, completed by his successor, Maravar – the longest one in Asia with a 197-metre span from East to West and a 133-metre span from South to North, the third largest in the world! It is said that Swamy Vivekananda offered prayers at this temple in 1897. Another important fact is that two important Hindu schools of thought – the Kanchi of Kamakodi Peetam and Bannari Amman owe allegiance to the deity at the Ramanathaswamy temple in Rameswaram. This has a tremendous impact on the religious sentiments of both the local people as well as devotees throughout the state of Tamil Nadu. 

clip_image012clip_image013Further down, the geographical terrain and landscape naturally tapers slowly but sharply toward the end, converging and gently sinking into the sea at Dhanushkodi – the country’s tip in this part of the peninsular. This natural phenomenon has a lot of significance and most people revere the thought and hope to attain salvation as a culmination of their prayer, sacrifice and penance in this holy place. With this backdrop, it is proposed to construct a Yoga-cum-Meditation Centre at Rameswaram which any tourist can use to attain solace and discover oneself through the Vedic science of Yoga and meditation. This could also pave the way for the establishment of a   Vedic College   where all students could be imparted with knowledge and inputs on Hindu religion and mythology, the Vedas, Upanishads and the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita. Taking cues from the renowned “Thirupathi Devasthalam”, efforts may be initiated to project this temple with its strong and rich legacy and roots of Hinduism, being a National Pilgrim Centre. For instance, tourists may make advanced booking for Offerings at temples, on-line pooja, thereby reaching temples in the designated time (each temple has specific timings for ‘dharshan’ and special pujas)…  

clip_image015Ramanathaswamy Temple: The legend says that Hunuman was sent by Lord Rama to bring a Lingam to worship at an appointed auspicious hour. As Human’s arrival was delayed, Sita moulded a lingam for Rama’s timely worship. It is the main deity being worshiped as Ramanathaswamy. Disappointed Hunuman was later consoled by Rama by installing the Lingam which was brought by him a little north of Ramanatha, and decreed that the Hunuman’s lingam should have precedence over the Ramanatha in all honours. 

clip_image017clip_image018Agnitheertham: The calm shallow water-spread of the sea, present hardly 100 meters in front of the   temple gopuram  is considered as sacred. A dip in the Agnitheertham is considered to remove the sins of the pilgrims. The other theerthams (holy water tanks) in and around the temple are also important for Pilgrims… 

clip_image020Gandhamathana Parvatham: A hillock situated 3 KMs to the north of the temple is the highest point in the island. There is a two storeyed Mandapam, where Rama’s feet (Padam) is found as an imprint on a chakra. Pilgrims throng in thousands to worship Gandhamathana Parvatham.   Sukreevar Temple  and Theertham are situated on the way to Gandhamadana Parvatham. 

clip_image022Dhanushkodi: The southernmost tip of the island is called Dhanushkodi. It was completely washed away by a cyclone in 1964. But the   Kothandaramasamy Temple  here remains intact. It is 18 KMs way from Rameswaram can be reached by road. A popular belief is that, it is where Vibishana a brother of Ravana surrendered before Rama. Dhanushkodi has a fine beach, where Sea surfing is possible.

Kurusadai Island : This Island lies to the west of the   Pamban Bridge  between the mainland and the island. It is a Marine Biosphere, a paradise for the Marine Biologists and nature lovers. Marine wealth are abound here which attract many a scholars and researchers to this Island . It is about 4 KMs from Mandapam. One should approach fisheries department for permission to visit this island. Off   Kurusadai Island   one could see plenty of coral-reef, fish. Dolphins and sea-cows (Dugong) are also often witnessed…  

Ramanathapuram: An ancient town, and now the head quarters of the district. It was from here the Sethupathis (Chieftains) ruled this territory. Ramalingavilasam Palace with good painting and Tomb of Thayumana swamigal, are the places worth visiting. A Museum is functioning here.

DEVI PATINAM: A coastal village is also known as Navashabashanam.It is believed that Lord Rama worshipped Navagraha here. The temple near by here, is dedicated to Devi, who is said to have killed the demon Mahishasura at this spot. Hindus perform religious rites for their forefathers here…

Erwadi:…

SATCHI HANUMAN TEMPLE: This is where Hanuman said to have delivered the good news of sita’s well being to Rama with an evidance choodamanai(Jewel) of Sita. 

FIVE FACED HANUMAN TEMPLE: Hanuman is adorned with senthooram here. The stone said to have used to construct the floating bridge Sethu Bandanam could be seen here…

SETHU KARAI

A place of Puranic importance, Sethu karai (meaning the   Sethu Coast   ) is an important pilgrim centre having religious significance owing to the belief that Lord Ram is said to have constructed a bridge from here over the sea waters to reach   Sri Lanka  . It is a hallowed place for Hindus as they conduct their religious rites in this place and is situated around 68 kilometers from Rameswaram and is near Erwadi Dharga…

SEA WORLD AQUARIUM

Just opposite the Rameswaram Bus Stand, one can catch a quick glimpse of an assortment of underwater creatures in their near natural habitat in the ‘Sea World Aquarium’ – the only one of its kind in the state, and probably in the country too, filled with such varied marine life forms including exotic species such as Octopus, Snake fish, Parrot fish, Sea lizard, Sea squid, Cow fish, Lion fish, Rabbit fish, Fire fish, Butter fish, Clown fish, Crabs, Lobsters, Prawns, Sea Lotus, Beach Tamet, Star Fishes, Sea Horses and Sharks. This is quite an eye-opener for young tourists & kids and lovers of marine life.

clip_image024MANDAPAM & PAMBAN

Lying on the Ramanathapuram –   Rameswaram National Highway  and just 19 kms before Rameswaram lies this sleepy coastal   village of Mandapam   . Prior to the 1914 train service linking the mainland with Rameswaram, boats were the only mode of transport to ship the pilgrims on their journey to Rameswaram. It is possible to take a boat for a cruise through the mangrove marshes to   Kurusadai Island   .

There is a possibility to convert this opportunity into a tourist attraction by providing small mechanized boats from Mandapam for both cruises as well as discovery of the coral reefs in neighbouring islands subject to non-pollution and destabilization of the fragile and precious marine ecosystem of this region.

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http://tamilnadutourism.org/gallery/PhotoGallery/pages/Ramar%20-%20Padam.htm

Rameshwaram – the corridor of faith

Introduction

Rameswaram (Chennai to Rameswaram 572 km) is a small island in the Gulf of Mannar, is a major pilgrim centre. It is connected to the mainland by road and railway bridges. Rameswaram is a holy place because Sri Rama, on his return from Sri Lanka, offered his thanks to Lord Shiva and performed pooja to wash away his sin in killing the Demon King, Ravana. 

Rameswaram is known for its 22 theerthas or wells in and around the main temple. This place is equally sacred to both Vaishnavites and Shaivites. According to Hindu Mythology, if one visits Rameswaram and prays to Lord Shiva one will be relieved of one’s sins. It is 197 metres long.

The Ramanathaswamy temple is renowned for its magnificent corridors and massive sculptured pillars. The third corridor of Ramanathaswamy temple is the longest one in the world.

Besides pilgrimage, Rameswaram Island has several places, which are ideal picnic spots. There are beautiful beaches at Olaikuda, Dhanushkodi and Pamban. The Olaikuda beach is 1 km from the main temple and s engulfed by coral reefs, which makes bathing in the sea safe and enjoyable. With diving glasses and respiration tubes, scuba diving is safe and possible. Flamingos, sea gulls and a variety of birds migrate to the Rameswaram Island during winter. 

Rameswaram is a main fishing centre of Tamil Nadu. Variety of fishes including export quality fish like prawns, sea cucumber, and lobster are available here. Rameswaram is also famous for its dry fish…

10.Kothandaramaswamy Temple  This temple is located 12 kms away from Rameswaram. A popular belief is that Vibishana, brother of Ravana, surrendered before Rama here.

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http://www.tamilnadutourism.org/

http://kalyan98.wordpress.com/2007/11/22/rama-setu-political-exchanges-peoples-movement/

Rama Setu: political exchanges, peoples’ movement

Sethu: BJP quotes 1956 report

(Deccan Chronicle, 22 Nov. 2007)

Chennai, Nov. 21: Sir A.R. Mudaliar in his report in 1956 had suggested that Sethusamudram shipping project should not be executed with the present alignment, as it would lead to navigational hazards, BJP state president L. Ganesan said.

Speaking to this newspaper, Mr Ganesan said that Sir Mudaliar had reported that shifting sandbanks in the Ramar Sethu area presented a far more formidable problem — both at the stage of construction and during maintenance than the sand dunes on the Danushkodi island site. “Approaches to a channel would be far too open with no possibility of construction of protective works. A channel at this site—even if it can be made (which is unlikely) would entail definite navigational hazard,” Sir Mudaliar had said in his report. Mr Ganesan said that in these circumstances the idea of cutting a passage in the sea through Ramar Sethu should be abandoned.

“Mr Karunanidhi and Mr Baalu should not hurt the sentiments of millions of Hindus, who believe that Lord Rama had built the bridge across the ocean to Lanka. Instead they can operate numerous ships to the Ramar Sethu for pilgrims to worship Lord Rama and for tourists to visit the site,” he said, adding that during 1974 he had visited the site in a catamaran for a rupee.

Refuting the charges made by the Congress and DMK that BJP did not take any steps to announce it as a national monument, Mr Ganesan said that there was no danger to Ramar Sethu during our regime, so there was no reason for us to declare it as a national monument but now the Congress and DMK pose a grave danger to the bridge so it is time for us to raise the alarm.

http://www.deccan.com/chennaichronicle/City/Citynews.asp#Sethu : BJP quotes 1956 report

Karunanidhi’s thoughts on Sethu project

Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: Chief Minister M.Karunanidhi’s thoughts on Sethusamudram have been compiled as a book. The 60-page booklet, ‘Sethu,’ is priced at Rs.5 and published by the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.

In it, Mr. Karunanidhi elucidates in simple language the need for the project and makes a compelling argument on why it should be completed at an early date.

“We have printed one lakh copies. It is available at Anna Arivalayam,” Mr. Karunanidhi said when asked about the book. He has been giving copies to many who met him at his residence.

Earlier, Mr.Karunanidhi had written a series of articles in the party organ ‘Murasoli’ on the various aspects of the canal project in October this year.

In a letter in 2002, Mr. Karunanidhi pointed out that the DMK had been raising the issue for the past 50 years.

“I have written personal letters and spoken to most of the Prime Ministers about it,” he said.

Contending that the project was as important as the Suez canal and the Panama Canal, Mr. Karunanidhi said its implementation would help many ports in the region — Colachel, Muttam, Tuticorin, Rameswaram, Nagapattinam, Karaikkal, Cuddalore, Puducherry, Chennai and Visakhapatnam.

It would boost economic development of backward areas such as Tirunelveli, Tuticorin, Virudhunagar, Karaikudi, Tirupattur, Madurai and Nagercoil.

http://www.hindu.com/2007/11/22/stories/2007112262211000.htm

Ram Setu: Religious leaders challenge Karunanidhi to debate

17 Nov 2007, 1932 hrs IST , PTI

CHENNAI: Criticising Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi for his remarks on Lord Ram, Hindu religious leaders on Saturday challenged him to a public debate on the Ram Sethu issue.

“We respect Karunanidhi as an elder statesman of the country. But his insulting remarks on Lord Ram have hurt the sentiments of saints, heads of ‘Mutts’ and millions of Hindus. We are unhappy with him for the remarks. I dare him to have a debate with me on the issue,” said Visvesh Theertha Swami of Udipi Pejawar Mutt.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the “Southern Bharat Conference of Matathipathis, Dharmacharyas and religious scholars” in Chennai to discuss ways to protect Ram Sethu, he said Karunanidhi had not yet responded to his earlier invitation for a debate.

Prasanna Sura Madhava Theertha of Madhava Theertha Mutt said that as Chief Minister, Karunanidhi had taken the oath under the Constitution and should not “insult” any religion. “Such actions can not be tolerated. They are representatives of the public and should not vitiate the atmosphere by making such remarks,” he added.

“Those who enjoy power in the name of Mahatma Gandhi have forgotten that Gandhi himself was a Ram devotee. Now they are questioning the existence of Ram. This is not proper,” he said.

While Karunanidhi has maintained that Ram and Ram Sethu are figments of imagination, the tourism department beckoned tourists to Rameswaram with an advertisement that “the footprints of Ram and the floating stone ‘Sethu Bandanam’ used to build the Sethu are worth seeing,” the religious figures said. This showed the duplicity of the Tamil Nadu Government, they alleged.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/India/Ram_Setu_Religious_leaders_challenge_Karunanidhi_to_debate_/articleshow/2548769.cms

Ram case against Karuna

November 22, 2007

HC seeks records of Ram case against Karuna

(Deccan Chronicle, 23 Nov. 2007)

New Delhi, Nov. 22: The Delhi high court on Thursday called for the records of a lower court which had dismissed a lawyer’s complaint against Tamil Nadu chief minister M  Karunanidhi for his alleged remarks on Lord  Ram.  Justice V B Gupta gave this direction on a petition filed by advocate Monica Arora  challenging the lower court’s decision. A metropolitan magistrate here had on October 17 dismissed her criminal complaint saying there was no ground to take cognisance of the offences alleged. The magistrate had also said prior sanction of the state governor was required for initiating prosecution.

But Ms Arora argued that previous sanction was not required since the alleged offence was not committed against the state. “There is no legitimate and lawful reason for seeking prior sanction in private offences where one person has hurt the religious sentiment of the other,” she argued.  The advocate also placed before the court some newspaper clippings reporting Mr Karunanidhi’s remarks on Lord Ram, which evoked protests across the country and cases against the chief minister, which were filed in various courts.

A few days ago, a Mumbai court had issued summons to Mr Karunanidhi on a complaint filed by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) for his remarks on Lord Ram. Magistrate A.G. Mohabe of the 26th metropolitan court in suburban Borivali had asked Mr. Karunanidhi to appear before it on December 11. The complaint was filed by VHP’s Mumbai unit general secretary Arun Handa, who accused Mr Karunanidhi of intentionally outraging the religious feeling of the Hindus.

The cases were under IPC sections 153 (promoting enmity between different religious groups) and 295 (intentionally outraging religious feelings). Mr Karunanidhi had made his remarks on Lord Ram after the Sangh Parivar raised objection to the execution of the Sethusamudram Project on the ground that it would destroy the bridge believed to have been constructed by Lord Ram when he undertook his journey to Lanka to rescue Sita from the clutches of Ravana. In response the chief minister wanted to know which engineering college Lord Rama had studied in.  He also quoted Valmiki to say that he had even called Lord Ram a drunkard in the Ramayana, a comment that raised a lot of dust.

http://www.deccan.com/chennaichronicle/home/homedetails.asp#HC seeks records of Ram case against Karuna


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