Setu studies

Setu studies There is a news flash that Centre proposes Setu studies as a compromise to be proposed in the Hon’ble Supreme Court. It is not enough for the Centre to file an affidavit offering to carry out an archaeological study of Setusamudram. It is necessary to insist that Hon’ble SC should make the stay of the Setu project absolute to ensure that no dredging work takes place in Setusamudram, including the Rama Setu section. Further, the project itself is fatally flawed on ecological, security, coastal livelihood concerns. The project should be scrapped completely since any attempt to link Gulf of Mannar and Bay of Bengal will only end up in a project disaster, total destruction of the Gulf of Mannar and impose enormous security problems.  A rational approach will be to re-examine project alternatives to achieve abhyudayam of coastal/marine people. One such alternative is the establishment of Marine Economic Zone all along the 8118 km. coastline of India extending to the economic zone of 200 kms. from the coastline. Such a move will unleash a phenomenal potential for increasing the income of the coastal/marine people five-fold and in Tamilnadu alone generate Rs. 10000 crores of foreign exchange earnings per annum from export of marine products.
Another is to look for upgrading the Thuthukudi port as a Major Container terminal, set up a East coast railway line linking Thuthukudi and Chennai, study the feasibility of railway links between Colombo and Madurai, between Jaffna and Nagapattinam and the increased use of smaller vessels to ply between Gulf of Mannar and Palk Straits using the existing Pamban channel (with a broad-gauge railway cantilever bridge already operational) to provide for such marine transport between Thuthukudi and Nagapattinam.
 In summary, the focus of an alternative project has to focus on the abhyudayam of coastal/marine people without damaging the fragile ecosphere which is a Marine Bioreserve of South and Southeast Asia. Since the proposed study should be to kill any future adventures to desiccate the  national monument and world heritage of Rama Setu as Underwater Cultural Heritage under the UNESCO conventions to which India is a signatory, the study should be conducted by a multi-disciplinary team of experts including experts in marine archaeology, ancient literature including Sangam literature which refers to Rama Setu, oceanography, geotectonics, geothermal studies, mariners, national security, protection of thorium reserves of the world in the marine zone near Rama Setu, protection  measures against future disasters such as tsunami-s and cyclones, environmental experts with special expertise in marine ecosphere. 

To start with, 8000 pages of evidence and experts’ submissions made to the Baalu committee and to the Courts will be made available to the proposed multi-disciplinary commission which should be mandated to conserve and protect the ecosphere including Rama Setu in the Indian Ocean, while promoting Rameshwaram as divyakshetram, a sacred tirthasthanam.

Evidence sources:

Rama Setu book ed. S. Kalyanaraman (2007)

Setubandhanam book ed. Subbarayalu (2007)

Palam DVD by M.R. Jayakrishnan (2008) Dr. S. Kalyanaraman 

UPA plans Setu compromise

5 Feb 2008, 0239 hrs IST , Akshaya Mukul , TNN
NEW DELHI: A compromise within the UPA is on the cards on the Sethusamudram project. Highly placed sources said the government’s affidavit to be filed in the Supreme Court next month could seek permission to carry out an archaeological study of the area before a decision on the project can be taken.However, in order to keep DMK, a key ally, in good humour, the affidavit is likely to reiterate its commitment to the project. It is believed the compromise formula would get the approval of DMK chief M Karunanidhi. Sources said the compromise formula works well for all the stakeholders. While DMK can continue to say that government has not given up the project, the Centre can find solace in the fact that the study itself would take four to five years to get completed.

”A similar study in Nagarjunkonda took five years to finish. Even with advanced technology now, the study is expected to take a long time since the process would begin only after the Supreme Court grants permission for such a study,” a source said.

At one point, there was a view that archaeologists should supervise the dredging operation but the culture ministry did not agree to the suggestion.

Sources said that within the government there is widespread support for the stand the culture ministry has taken on the issue. Even the law ministry feels there is no need to get ‘aggressive’ on the project.

Law ministry also endorses the stand that the view of the expert committee – constituted after the Sethu row broke out – is not comprehensive enough and needs solid archaeological backing. It is believed that except shipping minister T R Baalu and another cabinet minister from the Congress, who is also part of the informal group of ministers on Sethusamudram, the prevailing view is not to let BJP walk away with an issue that can turn emotive.

However, the dissenting cabinet minister thinks that the government should go ahead with the project and show how even the BJP, when it led the NDA government, had agreed to it.


Thanks to Dr. Subramanian Swamy for taking up the security issues and additional national security burdens and costs created by any Setu channel linking Gulf of Mannar and Palk Straits. There is already a Pamban channel providing such a link which should be adequate for maritime trade and moving containers between Thuthukudi, westcoast and Nagapattinam and beyond on the east coast.
Security concerns are serious issues which should not be dealt with lightly. Any studies to be undertaken for any project in Setusamudram should primarily be governed by national security imperative, the livelihood of coastal/marine people, the imperative of protecting the ecosphere and protection of national heritage.
I am sure these issues will come up if and when the Centre submits an affidavit to the Hon’ble Supreme Court. This should become an occasion to get the Setu project scrapped once-and-for-all with a direction to the Centre to look for rational alternative projects such as Marine Economic Zone to benefit over 20 lakh coastal people of Setusamudram in Tamilnadu,  Kerala and Karnataka coasts who will be directly impacted by any project in this Indian Ocean zone.
The following is a copy of the letter sent by Dr. Subramanian Swamy to Hon’ble Defence Minister Shri AK Antony on 4 Feb. 2008:
February 4, 2008.
Mr. A.K. Antony, Minister of Defence,
Government of India, South Block, New Delhi.

Dear Mr. Antony, 

      I write this letter to draw your attention to the op-ed item in “News Today” dated Saturday February 2, 2008[enclosed] wherein the former Tuticorin Port Trust Chairman Mr. V.S. Sundaram, IAS (Retd) has written that as a Member of the Lakshminarayanan Committee set up in 1981 to investigate the feasibility of  a ship channel in the Palk Straits, he was privileged to hear from the then Secretary to the Government of India in the Ministry of Shipping and Transport Mr. Mohinder Singh IAS on July 4, 1982, that he [the Secretary] had received a letter from the then Union Defence Secretary categorically stating “that the Setu Samudram Channel Project (SSCP) will be a disaster and grave threat to our national security. Thus the Defence Ministry will never be in a position to give their concurrence in the SSCP”.  In view of this authoritative statement I request you to review the matter and take a final view as to whether the SSCP is a national security risk and hence whether it is worth the cost to provide Budget funds of the Defence Ministry to meet that risk and make the channel safe for the nation.
      Kindly treat this letter as urgent befitting your immediate attention..
      Warm Regards,
                              Yours sincerely,

                        ( SUBRAMANIAN  SWAMY _
Encl: a/a


One Response to “Setu studies”

  1. GVK Unnithan Says:

    An excellent and befitting letter. Kudos to Sri. Subraminiaswamy.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: