Centre hurts peoples’ sentiments, insisting on cutting through Rama Setu

In the affidavit approved for submission to SC, Centre reportedly asks SC to decide on Sri Rama. This is disgraceful buck-passing, a cop-out, without admitting the reality of Sri Rama in the nation’s identity and unity.
If the reports are true, the proposed new affidavit is an insult, a deep hurt on sentiments of millions of people by proposing that the mid-ocean channel (SSCP) will  desiccate the sacred Rama Setu. This is politics at its worst, just to stay in power with the support of an atheist group (synonym in vogue for ‘secular’). Taking such a stance, it is political dishonesty to aver in media reports that peoples’ sentiments are being respected.

Kindly write/Email to authorities in India with a request to –

(a)    notify the ‘Ramsetu’ (Ram’s Bridge) sited in the Rameswaram sea as a “protected, historic national heritage of Bharat”;
(b)    notify the ‘Rameswaram’ Island as a “Holy Pilgrimage Place (Divyakshetram)”;
(c)     leave the Ramsetu totally unscathed,;                                       (d) use the existing Pamban gap (with a cantilever BG Railbridge) to tranship goods between Gulf of Mannar and Palk Bay,
(e)    adopt an alternative to improve the lives of coastal people and for ‘real’ development of the nation by establishing “Marine Economic Zones” (MEZs) to extend upto 200 kms. of the ocean from the coastline. MEZs have the potential to realize Rs. 40,000 crores of foreign exhange per annum by exporting marine products juxtaposed to the Rs. 200 crore earning from a shipping channel (SSCP).

Government should notify Ramasetu as a ‘National Heritage Monument’ under section 4(1) of the Ancient Monuments and Archeological Sites and Remains Act, 1959. The Ram Setu comes well within the expression ‘ancient monument’ just as the Brahma Sarovar at Kurukshetra – the land of the Gita (in Haryana and 160 kms north of Delhi) was on a similar consideration declared by the Punjab and Haryana High Court {cf. Air 1993 P&H 204} as an ancient monument.

Besides it being a matter of belief, faith, deference and reverence of all of us to save the Ram Setu, it is nevertheless our national cause for the sake of national security, promotion of heritage-/eco-tourism, protection against future tsunami threats, preservation of marine flora, fauna, environment and ecology, banking upon one of our indigenous sources of nuclear energy (about 32% of Thorium deposits of the world in the area) and ensuring livelihood for 20 lakh coastal fisherfolk.

Jallikattu (bull fight) was allowed by SC on the ground that banning it would hurt the sentiments of people in some districts of Tamil nadu. Desiccating Rama Setu would hurt sentiments of millions of people world over. Government should be reminded to respect the peoples’ sentiments. PM may recall the sage advice of former Supreme Court Justice VR Krishna Iyer that no patriotic Indian can support this SSCP.

Dr. S. Kalyanaraman

Faxes/Emails may be sent to:

Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil
President of India
Rashtrapati Bhavan,
New Delhi, India – 110 004.
Fax : 00-91-11-23017920 / 00-91-11-23017824
Telephone : 00-91-11-23015321
Email ID: <presidentofindia@rb.nic.in>

Dr Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister of India
Prime Minister’s Office (PMO)
South Block, Raisina Hill,
New Delhi, India-110 011
Fax: 91-11-23019545 / 91-11-23016857.
Telephone: 91-11-23012312.
E-mail: manmohan@sansad.nic.in
Residence: 7, Race Course Road, New Delhi
Tel. – 23018939, 23011156, 23018907, 23019334, 23015470

Hon’ble Mr. K. Gopinathan Balakrishnan
Chief Justice of India
C/o-Secretary General,
Supreme Court of India,
Tilak Marg, New Delhi-110 001 (India)
E-mail : supremecourt@nic.in

Shri Lal Krishna Advani
Leader of Opposition, Lok Sabha (House of People of Parliament of India)
Member, Committee on Home Affairs, Government of India
Residence: 30, Prithviraj Road,
New Delhi – 110 003 (India)
Email: advanilk@sansad.nic.in
Tels. (011) 23794125, 23794124
Fax: (011) 23017015

Govt asks SC to decide on ‘Lord Ram’

2/28/2008 11:32:54 AM (TimesNow TV)

Under pressure from its allies down south, paticularly the DMK, the Govenment in a draft affidavit to be filed in the Supreme Court has said that the Ram Sethu is not man made and that work on the Sethu Samundaram project must resume.
The Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs has approved the final draft of the Centre’s affidavit on the Sethusamudram project to be filed in the Supreme Court.
The CCPA has decided that the Centre can go ahead with the filing of the affidavit in the Supreme Court on March 5.
As per the affidavit, the Government will seek to remove the stay on the project. It will also seek to dismiss all PILs on the issue. The government is filing the revised affidavit after withdraiwng its first controversial affidavit on September 14.
The draft of the second affidavit is a toned-down version as it says: “There is no scientific evidence that the Ram Sethu is a man-made structure. It is a matter of faith of millions of Indians it was built by Lord Ram. The Government to seek SC direction on how to honour matters of faith.”
The initial affidavit had created a furore after the Government had stated that there was no proof of the existence of Lord Ram.
Govt to ask for lifting stay on dredging
Speaking on the latest development, Culture Minister Ambika Soni told TIMES NOW that the Government had decided that the Shipping Ministry headed by the DMK’s T R Baalu would be responsible for readying the affidavit asking for a vacation of the stay on dredging work.
Commenting on this, TIMES NOW’s Political and Economy Editor Navika Kumar said this decision effectively kept the Congress’ important ally the DMK which has been pressing for the project, happy while at the same not giving any political ammunition to the BJP with questions on the existence of Lord Ram or the nature of the Rama Sethu, manmade or otherwise.
“DMK has obviously put its foot down and got its way – the Shipping Ministry will ready the affidavit to be filed next week. Soni did not go into the details of the affidavit, however sources say the Congress is trying to appease the DMK while trying to anticipate criticism from the BJP – clearly a tightrope walk for the UPA and Congress. The affidavit will ask for a vacation of the stay on dredging given after the Lord Ram controversy and the series of PILS filed afterwards. It will not question the existence of Lord Ram like its predecessor,” said Kumar.
The CCPA is leaving matters of faith and the prudence of tampering with the Rama Sethu, for the Supreme Court to decide on.
The Government will likely argue in its affidavit that the Rama Sethu is almost 30 kms long whereas the area in which the dredging is expecetd to interfere with it spans just just 300-400 metres – hence dredging should be allowed to begin with some minor realignments.
This would suffice for the DMK which feels pressured to show some progress on the Sethusamudram project to its votebank.
The exact contents of the affiavit will only be known on March 5. If the SC passes the ball back into the Government’s court, it may decided to buy time and  hand over investigation of the Sethu area to the Archaeological Survey of India which would take months to submit a detailed report on the nature of the Sethu, Navika Kumar observed. Whatever the moves, the Government is sure to navigate with caution.


Affidavit approved, UPA to go ahead with Setu project

CNN-IBN (28 Feb. 2008)


SETU ISSUE: UPA is ready to consider an alternate alignment that would not affect the structure.

New Delhi: The Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs has approved a new affidavit on Ram Setu. The Government is seeking to lift the stay on the construction of the controversial project off the Tamil Nadu coastline.

The affidavit will be filed in Supreme Court on March 5. Sources have told CNN-IBN that the Government wants the project to go ahead, something which the DMK — a key ally of the Government — has been demanding for some time now.

However, the UPA has been more cautious this time around. It says there is no available scientific evidence to prove that Ram Setu is a man-made structure but adds that the Archaeological Survey of India doesn’t have the expertise to either support to contradict this conclusion.

The affidavit also says that the legend of Lord Ram in literature, philosophy and religious sentiment occupies a significant place in the psyche of a large segment of Indian society.

Significantly, the Government is also ready to consider an alternate alignment that would not affect the structure. The Government wants work on the project to start in November should the Supreme Court give its go ahead.

The views of the Culture Ministry and the Archaeological Survey of India on the historical and cultural aspects of the case also have been taken note of.

In the first affidavit which was filed by the centre on the sethusamundram project (and later withdrawn) the Centre had made the following controversial statements:

  • Ram Setu is not a manmade structure, but a natural formation made up of shoals
  • Valmiki’s Ramayan and Ramcharitmanas are mythological texts and they cannot be reiled upon
  • Ram Setu is at best a case of disputed mythology and not a matter of historical importance

Sethusamudram Project

The Sethusamudram Project was originally conceived by a British commander of the Indian Marine, A D Taylor, in 1860. And while he may have been inspired by the Suez Canal at that time, nearly one and a half centuries later, India’s decision to revive his abandoned dream project will have very little similarity to the vastly profitable Suez Canal or Panama Canal.

At least that’s what this study done by a group of researchers led by Jacob John and Sudarshan Rodriguez claims.

“What we find is that the project has based its economic rationale only on distance saved for coastal shipping which is the highest which is 22 hours and the time saved is 22 hours,” said senior research associate Sudarshan Rodriguez from Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment.

But Rodriguez says for ships coming from Europe and Africa, the time saved is only 30 per cent of what is claimed by the project. From Aden time saved is just 8-12 hours. From Mauritius ships will actually lose time.

“The tariff for this project is based on the savings from,” said Rodriguez.

Coastal shipping saying that 50 per cent of time saved will be the tariff charged. So for a vessel which is around 20,000 Dead Weight Tons (DWT) we find that the savings by using the canal will be around $18,000.

“So ideally tariff then would be $9000. However the savings for a ship coming from Aden is only $4000. So if a ship from Aden is using the canal they are losing $5000,” said Rodriguez.

This study also found that 70 per cent of shipping traffic in the Indian Ocean are big shipping vessels like oil tankers and bulk carriers. So it becomes next to impossible for them to navigate this narrow channel.

Captain Balakrishnan, a retired Indian Navy frigate commander who’s done a parallel study says that ships would go around Sri Lanka rather than have to go through a canal with draught restrictions and with a need for a pilot to embark and disembark from the ship.


Let SC decide on Sethu: Cong
28 Feb, 2008, 0343 hrs IST, TNN

NEW DELHI: Even as the UPA’s top leadership gears up to decide the Centre’s stand on the Sethusamudram issue in the affidavit to be submitted to the SC shortly, the Congress has made it clear that it wants ‘development’ and ‘people’s sensitivities’ to go hand-in-hand. It has also added that a final decision will have to be taken by the SC, setting the tone for the government’s stand on the political controversy.
The party’s search for a middle path on the contentious issue comes in the wake of its ally, DMK’s, insistence on not putting the work on the ship channel project on hold. The project, when completed, will cut through a portion of the Adam’s bridge or Ram Sethu.
This has raised the hackles of the BJP and Sangh Parivar outfits. The BJP has lumped the Sethusamudram decision with the government’s withdrawn affidavit in the SC — about there being no historical evidence that the characters in the Ramayana existed — and the Congress worried over losing votes to the Opposition party’s ‘Hindu’ plank.
Party spokesperson Manish Tewari, articulating the Congress’ stand on the issue in response to questions from mediapersons in Parliament, said: “The effort is to try and find a way so that both development and sensitivities (of people) can be taken care of”. He also said that ultimately the apex court would have to decide on the matter.

The Congress has so far been focusing on NDA’s role in getting the project sanctioned and also their role in selecting the alignment for the project.
It has talked of the matter being sub judice and even earlier left it to the SC to decide on the matter. Party spokesperson Jayanti Natarajan has even said that the Congress-led UPA will keep in mind ‘public opinion’ on the subject. However, the party is now veering closer to Union culture minister Ambika Soni’s stand on the issue by factoring in ‘people’s sensitivities’.
Ms Soni has been at loggerheads with DMK’s shipping minister T R Baalu over what the government affidavit, to be submitted in court on March 5, should say. She has been opposed to Congress taking a decision on the matter that will ‘alienate Hindu voters’ and said that the Archeological Survey of India cannot take a definite view on whether the Ram Sethu can be declared a ‘site of national importance’ without undertaking a ‘survey’.
Those who agree with her say that such a stand when expressed in court will help putting off an immediate decision on the matter. However, with the DMK insisting that the government ask the Supreme Court to vacate its stay order on dredging near Adam’s Bridge, the issue has become a sticking point in Congress-DMK relations.
Mr Baalu, in reply to a question in Lok Sabha on Wednesday, said that the project can be operational by November 2008 depending on SC clearance to it.
This is the stand that the DMK is sticking to at the moment. This signals that that the party and its minister are factoring in the apex court’s stand on the issue. In the months leading up to the next general elections, this could create discord between the Congress-DMK but it does seem to be threatening the alliance at the moment.



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