Reasons for deeming Rama Setu as World Heritage Monument

Respect peoples’ sentiments, recognize Rama Setu as cultural heritage – Dr. Swamy

Dr. Swamy highlights in his statement (appended) the move to declare Majuli as a natural and cultural heritage site of the world.

So is Rama Setu a cultural heritage site, an underwater cultural heritage which needs protection under the international UNESCO convention to which India is a signatory (details given below).

Yes, Majuli is the largest river island in the world and is in the Brahmaputra river.

Majuli, the largest river island in the world, is a civil sub-division of Jorhat District. It is located 20 km. off Jorhat town (Asom, India). It is a pollution free fresh water island. Total area of the island was 1250, now it is about 650

Its length from east to west is about 90 km. & width from north to south is avg. 16 km. Majuli is a natural & cultural heritage site. With water bodies covering most of the areas , Majuli attracts plenty of birds both local & migratory.

About 25—26 Satras are remaining now in Majuli of which the Satras of Kamalabari, Auniati & Garmur are worth mentioning. These Satras are propagating the religious ideology of great Assamese medieval Vaisnavite Saint Sankardeva & Madhavdeva, preaching Satria culture. See also:

Government of India has submitted a proposal on 3 February 2004, to declare Majuli Island as World Heritage monument.

Biosphere Reserve under IUCN (The World Conservation Union) Commission on National Parks and Protected Areas

The Gulf of Mannar Marine Biosphere Reserve was established by the Government of India and the State of Tamil Nadu in 1989 and was the first marine protected area to be declared in South and South East Asia…The IUCN commission on National Parks and Protected Areas, with the assistance of UNEP, UNESCO and WWF, identified the Reserve as being an area of “particular concern” given its diversity and special multiple-use management status. The Reserve is among six areas chosen on the basis of its threatened status and richness in biological wealth and it is included in the action programme to save India’s protected areas for future generations.

World Heritage monuments: 22 cultural properties and 5 natural properties in India

(Map )

The number of recorded sites on the World Heritage now stands at 812 which include both cultural and natural wonders, and endowment that is shared by all mankind and the protection of which is the concern of the entire mankind. These include 628 cultural, 160 natural and 24 mixed properties in 137 state parties. India is an active member State on the World Heritage from 1977 and has been working in close co-operation with other International agencies like ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites), IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) and ICCROM (International Centre for the study of Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property).

There are 27 World Heritage Properties in India out of which 22 are Cultural Properties and 5 are Natural Properties.

The natural properties are:

Chamoli: Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers national parks

Bharatpur: Keoladeo National Park

Manas: Manas Wild Life Sanctuary

Kaziranga: Kaziranga National Park

Sunderbans: Sunderbans National Park

Underwater Cultural Heritage

Underwater Archaeology Wing of the Archaeological Survey of India was established in 2001.

Indiahas 7,516 km long coastline, 1197 islands and 155,889 sq. km of territorial waters and 2,013,410 sq. km exclusive economic zone. The vast water area of the country is rich in underwater cultural heritage. The importance of underwater archaeology was realized as early as in the VI five-year plan…

Adoption of “Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage” by UNESCO in 2001 displays the global concern about the protection and management of underwater cultural heritage. UAW has initiated steps for the protection and preservation of the underwater cultural heritage…Dr. Alok Tripathi Superintending Archaeologist

Underwater Archaeology Wing Archaeological Survey of India

Many monuments have been declared as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO, including underwater cultural heritage sites, for example:

Coiba National Park and its Special Zone of Marine Protection in Panama Tubbataha Reef

Marine Park in the Philippines

Kvarken Archipelago / High Coast in Sweden/Finland

Giant’s causeway and Causeway coast in UK

Great Barrier Reef in Australia

Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System in Belize

Mont St. Michel and its bay in France

Ha Long Bay in Vietnam

Matobo Hills in Zimbabwe

US court backs Indian tribe (Navajo) to prevent desiccation of a sacred mountain in USA

Dr. S. R. Rao, a pioneer in Marine Archaeology in India has written to the Govt. of India recommending that Rama Setu be declared an Underwater Cultural Heritage Monument and that ASI should undertake further exploration work.

SC should have noted that Madras HC Bench including CJ had on 19 June 2007 observed as follows:

Ancient monument

It would mean to be any monument which is very old having historic past or record. It can also be a stone, a post, a river etc. Thus in RAM SARUP VS STATE OF HARYANA (AIR 1993 PUNJAB AND HARYANA 204) a Division Bench of Punjab & Haryana High Court held that the ‘Brahm Sarovar’ is a very old historic place and it would clearly come both within the expression of ancient and historical monument, as defined in the 1958 Act…Court order: The Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Union of India is directed to file a counter affidavit explaining whether any study has been undertaken by the archaeological or any other concerned department in respect of Adams Bridge/Rama Sethu and whether the said bridge can be regarded as a national monument within the meaning of the 1958 Act. (In a 11-page judgement, Madras HC summarized the evidence submitted on Rama Setu).


By two suicidal moves, the UPA at the Centre and the DMK at the Tamil Nadu level have destroyed the case they have been making in favour of the Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project (SSCP):

(i) The first argument that they had been giving is that in a secular state committed to modern progress, religious sentiment cannot be a determinant factor in decision-making by the State. The DMK has been pressing this type of argument especially hard during the last 50 years.

This argument was however sabotaged by the DMK itself when the TN Government filed a review petition in the Supreme Court in the Jallikattu issue on January 15th this year and argued for permitting the wild bull race on the ground that the religious sentiment of the Madurai District population has to be respected. In Rama Setu matter, the religious sentiments of almost 1 billion Hindus of the nation is affected, not just two millions one district. Hence, the Rama Setu has to be protected.

(ii) Second, the Union Government has been taking the stand that Rama Setu is a ‘natural formation’ and not ‘man-made’ or constructed, and hence it is argued that the Setu cannot a heritage be or an ancient monument.

This argument has now been self-negated by the Union Government by its decision to declare the Majuli Island, a mid-river deltaic island in Assam’s Jorhat district and also to approach the UNESCO to declare the island as a “World Heritage” symbol because it is a “cultural landscape”! This destroys the ‘natural formation’ argument of the Government against Rama Setu.

Hence, my petition in the Supreme Court to save the Rama Setu is bound to succeed in the Apex Court. The SSCP is thus already “dead on arrival”.


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