Setu stalled?

Setu stalled? Can politico’s be trusted for abhyudayam of rashtra?
There are viable alternatives to the Setu channel, assuming that abhyudayam is the goal and to the benefit of coastal/marine people.
1. Set up Marine economic zones (MEZ) all along the 8118 km. Indian coastline (After all, Tamilnadu coast alone yields Rs. 2000 crores in foreign exchange earnings by exporting marine products per annum; this can be increased to Rs. 10000 crores since fish-landings have increased five-fold during the last 40 years).2. Lay railwaylines between Colombo and Madurai and between Jaffna and Nagapattinam.
3. Lay an east coast railwayline linking Thuthukudi and Chennai
4. Declare the coastline between Nagapattinam and Kanyakumari (including Rama Setu) as National Monument and Protected Bioreserve and Nuclear Resource Zone (since over 32% of the world’s reserves of thorium occur on this coast), declare Rameshwaram as divyakshetram and declare this coastline as Heritage Tourism Zone.
If Ambika Soni really means business to promote cultural properties (for e.g. Gangasagar, Manas Tiger reserve, Himachal flower valley, Bandarpur sanctuary which have already been declared as world heritage sites, natural cultural properties), declare Rama Setu as nation’s cultural property, underwater cultural heritage, world heritage monument and set up a Marine Museum at Rameshwaram.

These steps will promote abhyudayam and benefit directly over 20 lakh coastal/marine people of Tamilnadu and Kerala.

Kolkata, The Telegraph, Issue Date: Saturday , February 2 , 2008

Setu stalled, for sake of Ram bhakt


New Delhi, Feb. 1: The government is apparently willing to annoy an ally rather than the Ram bhakt.

It has decided to stall the Sethusamudram project by going in for a comprehensive appraisal by the Archaeological Survey of India.

The decision was taken yesterday by a group of ministers amid protests by believers that the proposed canal would damage or destroy the Adam’s Bridge, believed to have been built by Ram’s monkey army on its way to Lanka.

The ASI has been tasked with deciding if the setu is a man-made or a natural structure and if it has any cultural significance in the context of India-Sri Lanka relations.

Realising that the issue was extremely emotive and had the potential to create a “Hindu vote-bank”, the Centre has asked the ASI to undertake a spot survey as well as an underwater study by its team of marine archaeologists.

The fate of the Rs 2,400-crore ship canal project now depends on the report the ASI will hand in.

The decision was taken despite shipping minister and DMK leader T.R. Baalu writing to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for an early resolution to the imbroglio.

Sources said the DMK had been pressuring the government to take a quick decision and complete the project before the 2009 elections.

A survey by the ASI means an indefinite delay for the project, which would have provided a direct channel between the east and west coasts and spared ships the bother of going around Sri Lanka.

Union culture minister Ambika Soni reportedly told the GoM — specially formed for the project — that the ASI had never done such a survey before, so it would be very difficult to say anything based on experience.

She said the study would neither be easy nor would be it be completed fast, recalling a survey at Nagarjunakonda that had taken about six years.

A suggestion at the GoM meeting was to get international experts under the aegis of the Unesco to do the survey so that it would be “more neutral and acceptable”.

“The argument was that such a measure would ensure that there are no problems in the future. But the GoM agreed on an ASI survey,” the source said.

The project has been getting entangled in newer problems everyday. Just when environment issues were getting sorted out, the Coast Guard raised concerns about threats to the country’s security. Last week, the navy chief said the canal would not be of any help as it would not be wide enough for big ships to pass through.

Naval chief says Sethu can be protected
New Delhi, Feb.1: Navy Chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta on Friday called the Sethusamudram project “economically viable” and said that coastal trade and sea traffic would increase “from the west coast to the east coast of India” if the project was completed.Speaking to this newspaper in the course of an interview, Admiral Mehta said, “The Indian Navy will be able to make use of it (the Sethusamudram canal).” The naval chief also said that the Navy would take adequate security measures to guard against any security threats, like piracy, in the area if the project is completed.Admiral Mehta, however, pointed out that the Sethusamudram canal “would not be a normal one” compared to the world’s other canals since ships above 35,000 tonnes would not be able to operate in the Sethusamudram canal if the canal is dredged to about 12 metres. The proposed canal will create a maritime freeway between India and Sri Lanka so that ships do not have to circle around Sri Lanka to move westward. Admiral Mehta’s words come in the wake of Coast Guard director-general Vice-Admiral Rusi Contractor’s views, expressed on Thursday, that there were security threats, like piracy, that could emerge from the Sethusamudram project.Speaking about the inaugural Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS), to which all Indian Ocean-rim countries have been invited and which begins in the middle of this month in New Delhi, Admiral Mehta said there could be a possibility in future that even India and Pakistan could hold joint naval exercises.“The idea of such a symposium is that Indian Ocean region countries cooperate and exchange information on maritime threats in the region,” he said. As many as 33 Indian Ocean region countries have been invited by India for the symposium, including Pakistan and Iran. He said the cooperation envisaged would also include aspects like conduct of naval exercises in future. When asked whether countries like China or the US could be made observers at the symposium in future, Admiral Mehta said the selection of observers would be based on consensus among the countries at the symposium.

Admiral Mehta said the Navy would have to maintain surveillance over India’s vast maritime area. He said India was close to finalising the process of acquisition of eight new maritime patrol aircraft to replace the TU-142 aircraft. He also said that the country would have to boost its ship-building capacity. The Indian Navy had recently acquired the 17,000-tonne American USS Trenton landing platform dock (LPD) for about Rs 215 crores.

Lord Ram a symbol of Indian culture: Peter Alphonse

Chennai (PTI): Striking a discordant note with its key ally DMK on the issue of Ram Sethu, the Congress on Friday said that it wanted the implementation of Sethusamudram Shipping canal project, but did not want to hurt the feelings of the believers of the mythological bridge.

‘Lord Ram is a symbol of Indian culture and every Indian should try to emulate him’, Congress Whip S Peter Alphonse told the state Assembly while participating in the debate on the motion of thanks to governor for his address.

“Ram is all that is noble on Indian soil.. all Indians should follow Ram for his characteristics…. while we demand the implementation of the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal for the development of Tamil Nadu, we at the same time don’t want to hurt the feelings (of believers of Ramsethu),” he said.

The DMK had been saying that the Ram Sethu was not built by Lord Ram and it was a natural bridge. DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi’s remarks questioning whether Lord Ram was an engineer to construct the bridge drew flak from several quarters.

However, Alphonse regretted the opposition to the project and said “it should be dealt democratically.”

“A long-pending dream of Tamil Nadu, SSCP is important for developing the basic infrastructure of the state,” he said. February 2 2008 00:00 ISTúNÕ NØj§W §hP ®YLôWj§p RYû\ Jl×dùLôsÞeLs: Tô_L×Õ§p#, ©l. 1: úNÕ NØj§Wj §hP ®YLôWj§p ùNnR RYû\ Uj§V AWÑ Jl×dùLôiÓ, WôUo TôXjûR ×WôR]f £u]UôL A±®dL úYiÓm G] Tô_L ùYs°d¡ZûU úLô¬dûL ®ÓjRÕ. úNÕ NØj§Wj §hPjRôp Sôh¥u TôÕLôl×dÏ AfÑßjRp HtTÓm G] LPúXôWd LôYpTûPj RûXYo ì£ LUôiPo ®VôZd¡ZûU ùR¬®j§ÚkRôo. CYWÕ LÚjÕ Cj §hPm ϱjR Tô_L®u ¨ûXdÏ YÛf úNojÕs[Õ. Ck¨ûX«p, §p#«p ùNn§Vô[oL°Pm ùYs°d¡ZûU úT£V Tô_L êjR RûXYo ØW° Uú]ôLo ú_ôµ, Tô_L Bh£dÏ YkRôp úNÕ NØj§Wj §hPjûR Uß T¬ºXû] ùNnúYôm Gu\ôo. Cj§hPj§p ªLl ùT¬V RYû\f ùNnÕ ®húPôm GuTûR ùYhLlTPôUp Uj§V AWÑ Jl×dùLôs[ úYiÓm G]j ùR¬®jR AYo, WôUo TôXjûR EXL ×WôR]f £u]UôL A±®dL úYiÓm G]d úLhÓd ùLôiPôo. Saturday February 2 2008 00:00 ISTúNÕ NØj§Wj §hPm: Lôe¡Wv ¨ûXûV úNô²Vô A±®dL úYiÓm}¥.Wô_ôùNuû], ©l. 1: úNÕ NØj§W §hPm Tt±, Lôe¡Wv Lh£«u ¨ûX Gu] GuTûR úNô²Vô Lôk§ A±®dL úYiÓm Guß Ck§V Lmë²vh Lh£«u úR£Vf ùNVXô[o ¥. Wô_ô úYiÓúLôs ®ÓjRôo. ùNuû]«p ùYs°d¡ZûU ùNn§Vô[oL°Pm AYo úT£VRôYÕ: úNÕ NØj§W §hPjûR ØPdL Õ¥dÏm URùY± Nd§L°u ªWhPÛdÏ Lôe¡Wv Lh£ T¦kÕ ®hPÕ. URùY± Nd§L°Pm NWQûPkRôp Lôe¡Wv ARtLô] ®ûXûVd ùLôÓdL úYi¥«ÚdÏm. Lôe¡W³u AW£Vp úSôdLm úLs®dϱVô¡ ®Óm. úNÕ NØj§W §hPj§u T¦Ls CÕYûW GqY[Ü SPk§Úd¡\Õ, §hPj§u RtúTôûRV ¨ûX Gu] GuTÕ Tt± Uj§V AWÑ ùYsû[ A±dûL RôdLp ùNnV úYiÓm. úNÕ NØj§W §hPjûR BR¬d¡\ AW£Vp Lh£Ls, AûUl×Lû[ Juß §Wh¥, CkRj §hPjûR EPú] ¨û\úYtßUôß Uj§V AWûN RªZL ØRpYo LÚQô¨§ ¨olTk§dL úYiÓm.


Govt should declare Sethu heritage: BJP

With Coast Guard voicing security concerns over the Sethusamudram project, BJP on Friday asked the government to accept its ”mistake” of contemplating such a shipping canal and declare the Sethu Bridge as a world heritage site.Senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi said if his party came to power, it would re-examine the project.”After the statements by Naval officers, the government is trying for a face-saving measure,” Joshi told reporters on Friday, a day after Coast Guard Director General RF Contractor on Thursday said the Sethusamudram project would pose security risk.

The former union minister said the government ”should not shy away from accepting that they made a mistake.” Joshi demanded that ”Ram Setu be declared a world heritage site and be preserved as any other heritage of historical importance is preserved in the country.”

The project, which involves building a shipping canal by cutting through the Ram Sethu Bridge, has been surrounded by controversies as Hindu groups are opposed to it.

Contractor’s comments added a new dimension to the controversy over the project, which is now before the Supreme Court.

Alleging that the UPA government was ”disoriented” in its approach, Joshi claimed that it lacked ”knowledge of the people’s will” and was ”unfit to remain in office”.

He claimed that the ”security and environmental hazard issue raised by the naval officers” was conveyed by him to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh long time back but the PMO was ”silent due to DMK.”

He said his party was in favour of a ”land-locked canal for ship-travel”.

Scrap Setu project

The Pioneer Edit Desk (2 Feb. 2008)

Don’t compromise national security
The ill-conceived Sethusamudram Shipping Channel Project, which should not have been cleared in the first place, continues to run into controversies. After a spate of objections raised by experts who are convinced the project will cause irreparable ecological damage and make India’s southern States vulnerable to natural calamities, including tsunamis, and protests by Hindus outraged by the proposed destruction of Ram Setu, serious issues of national security have been raised, though not for the first time, by the Indian Coast Guard. The Director-General of the Coast Guard, Vice-Admiral RF Contractor, has said the project is bound to have security implications as the narrow shipping channel and ships passing through it will be susceptible to threats from terrorists in the region. He has also indicated that the proximity of the channel to Sri Lankan waters is a matter of deep concern on account of LTTE activity. His statement follows concerns raised by the Navy Chief, Admiral Suresh Mehta, that the channel will serve little purpose as it is designed for small ships. These concerns of the country’s foremost Naval authorities are definitely serious and certainly cannot be ignored. They add weight to the other strong arguments against the continuation of this project which will carve a narrow shipping lane through what is known as Ram Setu or Adam’s Bridge. The Government of the day has remained strangely unmoved by the powerful cultural and ecological arguments; now it transpires that national security concerns were wilfully ignored by those who decided to go ahead with the project. For, both the Navy and the Coast Guard had submitted their views in writing to Government before the project was cleared. This puts more than a question mark on the intentions of Union Minister for Shipping TR Balu; it calls for a full inquiry into how and why the project was cleared despite very valid national security concerns having been placed on record.

What emerges from the latest revelation is that the Congress-led UPA Government not only chose to ignore the ecological damage that would be caused by the project and decided to trample on the sentiments of millions of Hindus by destroying Ram Setu, it also scoffed at the security concerns of the Navy and the Coast Guard. If the UPA Government’s affidavit trashing the Sri Ram tradition to justify the demolition of Ram Setu was scandalous, the fact that it decided to go ahead with the project by over-ruling serious security concerns is shocking. By pandering to a Minister for whom integrity and probity are alien concepts and whose party apparently stands to gain from the project — this is the seamier side of ‘development’ in India — the UPA Government has clearly compromised national security. It is another matter that judicial intervention has brought work on the project to a halt and it is anybody’s guess as to when it will resume. The project has been designed to benefit individuals and entities, not India. On the contrary, if implemented, it will be against our national interest. Therefore, it must be scrapped, and scrapped immediately without any further delay or deliberation. If that upsets certain Cabinet colleagues of the Prime Minister, so be it. The nation cannot continue to pay the price for this Government’s inability to decide between what is right and what is wrong.


One Response to “Setu stalled?”

  1. Rama Setu: running a government through Press leaks « Hindu traditions Says:

    […] On Feb. 1, 2008 a leak was published in the Kolkata Telegraph. This news report was attributed to ‘informed sources’. See details at […]

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