Setu channel a national security threat: Vice Admiral; scrap Setu channel project


Setu Channel a national security threat: Vice Admiral; scrap Setu channel project

Vice Admiral Russy F. Contractor, who is currently Director General, Coast Guard has stated that the Setu channel poses a national security threat.

RF Contractor is a highly decorated officer. Vice Admiral Rustom Faramroze Contractor was commissioned in the Indian Navy on 01 July 1971. He is an alumnus of the College of Naval Warfare, Mumbai and the Royal College of Defence Studies at London, UK.  For exceptional devotion to duty, in keeping with the highest traditions of the service, Vice Admiral Rustom Faramroze Contractor was awarded the ‘NAO SENA MEDAL (DEVOTION TO DUTY)” in 2002.  Once again for distinguished service of an exceptional order as the Assistant Chief of the Naval Staff (Information Warfare and Operations) at the Naval Headquarters, New Delhi, he was awarded the ‘ATI VISHIST SEVA MEDAL (AVSM)” in 2005 by the President of India.

This naval expert’s opinion echoes the views of another naval expert Capt. H. Balakrishnan whose speech at Observer Research Foundation on 30 Nov. 2007 is also appended. These experts’ views also echosed in Hon’ble Smt. Jayalalithaa former CM of Tamil Nadu’s petition in the Hon’ble Supreme Court should be received with utmost urgency and the Setu channel project completely scrapped forthwith. Let there be no compromise on national security even if Lok Sabha elections have to be held soon J–

Dr. S. Kalyanaraman

Sethusamudram poses a security threat: Coast Guard (31 Jan. 2008,

Coast Guard DG has told the government that the narrow canal would put the ships moving through it at a greater risk of attack by terrorists.

Ram Setu project worries Coast Guard

IBN – 02:40 PM

There is a new twist to the Ram Setu controversy. The Coast Guards Director General has told CNN-IBN that the Sehtusamudram project poses security threat to India. Vice Admiral Contractor was echoing similar remarks by Navy Chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta recently.

“Sethusamudram project, a threat”  1/31/2008 2:43:00 PM

Concerns over the controversial Sethusamudram project are now being raised at the highest level in defence circles. Vice Admiral R F Contractor, the director general of the Coast Guard, has said that the Sethusamudram project could be a security threat to the country.
“The Sethusamudram project could pose a security threat to the country. There are chances of militants using this channel,” said Contractor on Thursday (January 31).
“Security issues are bound to arise. It’s a sea, its waters are shared, the maritime area is common by virtue of the close boundary lines between Sri Lanka and us, so obviously the implications are more there,” he added.
Interestingly, critics of the Sethusamudram project have raised concerns about the security threat posed by the project on previous occassions as well, and there is already a case challenging the project pending at the Supreme Court.

Sethusamudram poses a security threat: Coast Guard
31 Jan 2008, 1324 hrs ISTclip_image001,clip_image002INDIATIMES NEWS NETWORK
NEW DELHI: Adding another twist to the Sethusamudram controversy, Director General of the Coast Guard on Thursday said that the project poses a security threat to the country.
Vice Admiral RF Cotractor said that there is a strong possibility of the canal being used by militants.
Without mentioning the LTTE directly, Contractor said that the narrow canal would put the ships moving through it at a greater risk of attack by terrorists active in the region.
He also confirmed that he has already conveyed his views about the project to government.
Earlier, Naval chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta’s had said that the Sethusamudram project would be useful only for small ships.
He added that the project was economically unviable as both the Navy and international shipping agencies would not be able to use the canal. The project, if it becomes operational, would incur a loss of Rs 3,000 crore every year, he claimed.
The Sethusamudram canal would be only 12 meters deep, and only ships weighing up to 30,000 tonnes would navigate through it.

Ram Setu project worries Coast Guard

Thu, Jan 31 02:40 PM

New Delhi: There is a new twist to the Ram Setu controversy. The Coast Guards Director General has told CNN-IBN that the Sethusamudram project poses security threat to India.

Vice Admiral Contractor was echoing remarks similar to those made by the Navy Chief, Admiral Sureesh Mehta, recently. His statement comes at a time when the BJP is opposing the project tooth and nail, insisting that it will damage a precious historical heritage.

On the other hand Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Karunanidhi has made it a prestige issue. His party says the Sethusamundram is not a man-made structure.

The Archaeological Survey of India had earlier corroborated the DMK’s stand.

However, the Coast Guard Chief’s remarks are expected to give the BJP fresh ammunition on the Setusamudram project.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has granted the Centre four weeks to make its stand clear on the issue.

A Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices R V Raveendran and J M Panchal gave the Centre the time limit after Additional Solicitor General R Mohan sought extension for filing an affidavit.

The apex court directed the Government to file two separate affidavits, one on the alignment of the project and other giving details of the studies that have been undertaken to ascertain whether Ram Setu is an ancient monument.

The affidavits are to be filed by the first week of March.

The Supreme court had already directed the authorities not to damage the Setu in any manner while carrying out dredging activities.

Setu Controversy

The Ram Setu or Adam’s Bridge, a chain of limestone shoals 48 km long that once linked Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu with Mannar in Sri Lanka’s northwest, faces possible destruction when the ambitious Sethusamudram canal project comes up to create a navigable waterway in the narrow sea dividing the two countries.

India does not have a continuous navigational channel linking the east and west coasts. Ships coming from India’s west and heading to Bangladesh or Indian ports on the east coast have to go around Sri Lanka because the waterway in the sea dividing the two countries is shallow.

When the sea is dredged and a shipping canal does come up, it will save up to 780 km of sailing distance and 30 hours of sailing time for ships plying between the east and west coasts of India. Indian officials say the canal will also boost the national economy besides speeding up the movement of Indian Navy and Coast Guard vessels as well.

Hindu groups say this may be true but such economic progress cannot be at the expense of Ram Setu, as they refer to Adam’s Bridge, located at the southern end of the Sethusamudram project. This is where an estimated 48 million cubic metres of silt will be removed over the next two years.


Vayam Rakshamah – We Protect


The Indian Coast Guard [Bharatiya Thatrakshak] was constituted as the fourth armed union of India, on 19 August 1978, under the Coast Guard Act. The force’s main function is to protect India’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), covering an area of 2.02 million sq. km, and operates under the effective control of the Ministry of Defense. Coast Guard vessels and aircraft have been assisting the custom authorities in anti-smuggling operations and has effectively served national interests in high-risk areas. They are also used in SAR operations, anti-pollution and other duties in maritime zones. While protection of the high seas is vested with the Indian Navy, the area between 10 and 30 nautical miles from the shore is under the charge of the Coast Guard and from shore to five nautical miles with the coastal police as well as the Coast Guard.

It’s Responsibilities Include:

• Enforcing the provisions of enactment in force in the maritime zones.

• Assisting the Customs and other authorities in anti-smuggling operations.

• To preserve & protect the marine environment and control marine pollution.

• Measures for safety of life and property at sea including aid to mariners in distress.

• Ensuring the safety & protection of artificial islands, offshore terminals and other installations in MR zones.

*The Coast Guard is the nodal agency for oil spill response in India’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) under the national oil disaster contingency plan. Currently, the Coast Guard has capability to combat oil pollution up to 10,000 tons (Tier-II) and is in the process of upgrading its capability to more than 10,000 tons (Tier-III). Towards this, three pollution control vessels (refer to the ‘Coast Guard Fleet’ sub-section) are being inducted into the fleet, the first of which is likely to be commissioned in September 2006.

PersonnelThe Coast Guard has a strength of approximately 1000 officers and 5200 other personnel. The force is led by a Director General and a Deputy Director General. Vice Admiral Rustom Faramroze Contractor is the present Director General of the Coast Guard.

Copy of talk delivered at the ORF (C) on 3NOV 2007, “SECURITY AND THE SSCP” by Capt. H. Balakrishnan . The talk was shared among Cmde RIS Vasan, Col. Hariharan and Capt. H. Balakrishnan.The session was then moderated by the HOD of the Dept. of Defence Studies, Madras University,

Prof. Malaviya.


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.


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, today’s 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


(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

(b) Lives Lost / Wounded/Missing Crew


Lives Lost









(c) Ships Hijacked / Missing / Lost











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).


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 today’s 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 Indonesia’s 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


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 Laden’s “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 we’ve noticed is that Al Qaeda and other organizations have an awareness about maritime trade. They’ve 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. We’ve 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 are 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 “Desert Storm” is not lost on our policy planners


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.


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.


(A) “Maritime Related Terrorism” – Michael Richardson.

(B) “Maritime Terrorism:An Indian Perspective”- B.Raman – 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

(E) http://www.imo. org

(F) “Sea Piracy in South Asia” –Dr.Vijay Sakhuja –

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.


Captain (Retd) H.Balakrishnan, I.N

29 Jan. 2008 Invitation from PIB

15:15 IST


Dear Sir/Madam

You are requested to cover the following event :


Vice Admiral R F Contractor, Director General, Coast Guard, to address the media on the eve of 31st Anniversary of Indian Coast Guard.


1130 hrs


31st January 2008 (Thursday)


Coast Guard Headquarters Lawn, Near National Stadium, New Delhi

Yours faithfully

(Dhananjay Mohanty)

All Accredited Journalists/ Cameramen

Deputy Director (Photo Div)

Editor Sainik Samachar

Sethusamudram has security implications: Coast Guard

Published on Thursday, January 31st, 2008at 2:59 am | New Delhi:The controversial Sethusamudram shipping canal project has “security implications” and these have been “conveyed” to the government, the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) chief said Thursday.“There are security implications because of the closeness of the India-Sri Lanka maritime boundary,” Vice Admiral Rusi Contractor told reporters here ahead of the 31st anniversary of the ICG.“We have conveyed these implications to the government. Complications are there and I am sure these will be addressed,” he added.Contractor, however, declined to say whether there had been any response from the government.Asked to elaborate on the “security implications” and “complications”, the ICG chief said: “If the seaway is opened up, there could be issues of piracy. Then, in a narrow channel, if a ship has problems (while crossing), this has to be addressed.“There is also the question of the close proximity (of the maritime boundary) with a country with which there is a problem existing,” Contractor said.The project involves dredging a canal in the Indian Ocean between India and Sri Lanka. Several Hindu groups as well as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have opposed the project, saying it would affect a formation known as Ram Setu that is mentioned in the Hindu epic Ramayana.Ironically, the BJP had given the project in-principle approval when it was in power in 2003. However, there has been forward movement only in the last two years with Shipping and Surface Transport Minister T.R. Baalu giving the project his full backing.Baalu belongs to the DMK of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K. Karunanidhi that is a constituent of India’s ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA).Environmental groups have also opposed the Sethusamudram project, saying it would destroy the fragile ecosystem of the area.The Supreme Court has stayed the project pending the resolution of all contentious issues.On Sunday, Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy dovetailed all popular concerns over the Sethusamudram – scientific, ecological, security and religious – at the launch in Chennai of “Paalam” (Bridge), a film on dangers of continuing with the project.The 71-minute film lends voice to the concerns expressed on the much-debated project.Citing statistics, Swamy termed the project “a danger to ecology and India’s defence”. He contended that nearly 95 percent of ocean-going vessels have a displacement weight exceeding 60,000 tonnes, which means only a few will benefit from the project.“If this project becomes a reality, it will result in a Rs.30 billion annual loss to the national exchequer and this amount will go up every year. This much is clear because the canal will have a depth of only 12 metres and it will be impossible for ships weighing more than 30,000 tonnes to cross it – meaning over 95 percent of the ships in the world cannot use it at all,” said Swamy.Swamy claimed during the function that the Indian Navy Chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta had expressed similar sentiments but had been ticked off by Baalu “for speaking the truth”.


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