Rama Setu: Centre’s affidavit a string of insults to Courts and to Hindus

The affidavit submitted by the Centre to Supreme Court on March 1, 2008 is 1) an insult to the Court; and 2) an insult to the sentiments of millions of people who reasonably believe in Rama Setu as ancient heritage monument and sacred temple.

It insults the Court calling it to adjudicate on evidence without submitting evidence; it insults the justice system and rule of law by simply ignoring the Madras HC judgement delivered on 19 June and subsequent directions by SC. It insults millions of Indians using new definitions to define secular government as being simply opposed to the hindu sentiments and bucks its fundamental responsibility to respect peoples’ views.
It may be recalled that a US superior court quashed a sewerage project cutting through a mountain, because it hurt the sentiments of Navajo’s who considered the mountain sacred. Are we in a country governed by rule of law or NOT?
Detailed reading of a Respondent’s affidavit shows that it indulges in suppressio veri and suggestio falsi with a string of misrepresentations, misleading statements and false averments. Hopefully, the Hon’ble SC, the warriors of the justice system, believers in niti, dharma and enforcers of the rule of law will throw the response out and order scrapping the project disaster of a mid-ocean channel passage cutting through Rama Setu.
What has been put on stake is not merely Rama Setu but the very foundations of national integrity and unity governed by clearly demarcated duties and responsibilities of public functionaries who have been empowered by the people through the Constitution. The affidavit is an assault on the basic structure of the Constitution, indulging in buck-passing and toying with peoples’ sentiments. The Centre should stop playing with fire before it burns up the power-brokers. What is needed is not adjudication but justice, a polity governed by the rule of law and compassion for future generations by ensuring the integrity of the property and peoples lives along the coastline and national sovereignty.
Hon’ble SC should take serious exception to the tone, tenor and insulting nature of a Respondent’s affidavit which has scant regard for satyam, truth and issue appropriate injunctions including an absolute stay on the project disaster.

The affidavit can be downloaded from the following URLs:

Part I http://hinduthought.googlepages.com/setuaffidavit1.pdf (5mb) Mirror: http://www.livemint.com/2008/03/01002401/58760CF8-C887-4E06-977A-A2A5D8F45C43ArtVPF.pdf

Part II http://hinduthought.googlepages.com/setuaffidavit2.pdf (5mb) Mirror: http://www.livemint.com/2008/03/01002401/9A3B3B1F-9D61-4939-92E7-22A46D09581AArtVPF.pdf

Part III http://hinduthought.googlepages.com/setuaffidavit3.pdf (5mb) Mirror: http://www.livemint.com/2008/03/01002401/EF761A86-2492-4DED-B720-3942894D3FA4ArtVPF.pdf

Part IV http://hinduthought.googlepages.com/setuaffidavit4.pdf (5mb) Mirror: http://www.livemint.com/2008/03/01002401/61B71821-9471-4D52-86B0-501F39C15008ArtVPF.pdf

The affidavit has NOT been submitted by Union of India but only by Ministry of Shipping which has no competence to talk on issues beyond shipping. Why haven’t ASI and Min. of Culture responded to the observations of the Madras HC judgement of 19 June 2007 on Ancient Monument evidence? Why has the Min. of Shipping not responded to the observations of the Madras HC judgement of 19 June 2007 on Sir A Ramaswamy Mudaliar Committee’s warnings against choosing a mid-ocean Channel passage (as opposed to a land-based canal)? “A secular state cannot espouse the cause of any religion, faith or belief”. Secular does not mean anti-hindu or anti-religion, but non-interference in the matters of sentiments of people of any religion. If so, what is the meaning behind the constitution of HR & CE departments? Why the states of Tamilnadu, Andhra, Kerala and Karnataka are wreaking havoc in Hindu religious affairs? Why did Rajiv Gandhi’s government bring an amendment to the Constitution for the sake of Muslim Clerics in the ‘Shah Bano’ case? Why was the Delhi Metro diverted for the sake of the Moghul Monument Kutthub Minar? Why was the route in Bangalore Metro diverted to avoid damage to Tippu Sultan palace? Why is Haj yatra financed by the Government and why has Communal budgeting been introduced? Why were industrial development projects scrapped to save the Taj Mahal? Why did the Government of India appoint the Sachaar Committee to promote the Congress political interests of Muslim Minority Vote-Bank Politics?

Tamil Nadu Government pleaded for Jallikattu (not only secular but atheist government)

Bonafides of the composition of and rapid-fire procedures (in private sittings for just one week in Chennai) adopted by Eminent Persons Committee have been questioned; the Committee did NOT include naval/marine experts, security experts, geologists, marine archaeologists and oceanography experts; the Committee’s report has NOT made public over 8000 pages of submissions made by experts from a number of disciplines: environment, oceanography, geology, naval security experts, mariners, Trade Unions representing fishermen of the coastline, tsunami experts, nuclear resources (thorium) experts.

We are submitting about 8000 pages of expert opinions on over 160 topics including submissions made by experts to the Committee. These have NOT been taken into account and represent new evidences which should be evaluated by the Respondents – Union of India, in particular.

The affidavit contains many misrepresentations and misleading/biased statements. Government agencies (Department of Earth Sciences and National Institute of Ocean Technology) have made surveys/studies and submitted a report to the then President of India, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. Why have the submissions of the consultant to NIOT been not made public and why has it not been referred to in the affidavit? Is it because the report notes that there was ancient human activity on the Rama Setu based on scientific studies?

Tamil Nadu Ramanathapuram District Gazetteer of 1972 and earlier Madras Presideny Manual of 1893 refer to Rama Setu? Are these and Arya chakravarti coins found in Jaffna containing the epigraphs ‘Setu, Setupati’, epigraphs of Parantaka Chola, Krishnadeva Raya and Setupati Raja’s not archaeological records? Are not the sculptured published by ASI of Rama Setu in Parambanan Temple in Indonesia archaeological evidences? Are not the Royal Asiatic Society records of habitation on Rama Setu archaeological records? What about place names: Rameshwaram, Rama Setu, Setupati, Ramapadam? Are they not archaeological indicators? Government officers from Geological Survey of India have undertaken archaeological studies and recommended that Rama Setu was man-made and there are studies showing the historicity of Rama in India and in Srilanka. Srilanka is promoting Ramayana tourism in that country.

Tamilnadu Tourism invites people through advertisements to visit Rama Setu to touch the waters made sacred by Sri Rama and to see the floating rocks found there.

Why has the Government not referred to the observations of National Remote Sensing Agency, Hyderbad (of ISRO) in its recent book, ‘Images’ about Rama Setu as a man-made formation and of archaeological importance?

Paragraph-wise comments:

Para 2: Addl. Solicitor General promised total respect for all religions and Hinduism in particular and respecting the religious sensibilities would submit fresh affidavits re-scrutinizing all aspects including change of alignment without destroying Rama Setu. But this promise has NOT been kept. The committee appointed to gather objections and suggestions did NOT perform its functions transparently and its report is biased and does NOT reveal all the expert opinions and suggestions made. Why wer the Geological Survey of India and National Institute of Oceanography not involved in project formulation studies?

Para 7: There is no mention of the Feasibility Report sanctioned in 2004 at a cost of Rs. 4.8 crores. Where is the Feasibility Report? Para 10. The NEERI report was submitted in August 2004. Tsunami occurred on 26 December 2004. How could NEERI have taken into account studies related to the impact of the tsunami? In fact, when the PMO raised 16 objections including objections raised by Prof. Tad S Murthy (who also repeated the same two months ago in the Indian Science Congress in Vishakapatnam) no study was conducted to evaluate the tsunami impact on the project area. Only a telegraphic, back-of-the envelope reply was given by Chairman of Setusamudram Corporation to the PM. There are reports of another more devastating tsunami in Nature Magazine of 6 Sept. 2007. What protective measures are contemplated to be put in place have not been spelt out so far. The spud which broke 10 months ago is still lying near Rama Setu. No possibility of salvage operations in case a ship gets grounded in shallow waters in a mid-ocean channel.

Para 10: Why there is no mention of Madras HC judgement of 19 June 2007?

Para 11. Misleading statement. No work is going on in the project area as recorded on Setusamudram Corporation website. It is misleading to state that work in Palk Strait region is going on. Objections have been raised from the very beginning including the objections raised by MS Karunanidhi during public hearings not to touch Rama Setu. 35 lakh signatures were submitted in 2006 to the President protesting at the move to destroy Rama Setu. It is the Central Govt. which transferred the Madras HC case to SC after the judgement was given by the two-judge Bench including CJ of Madras HC on 19 June 2007.

Para 12. After the tsunami of 26 December 2004 the entire project should have been reviewed de novo. This was NOT done. No tsunami protection measures are included.

Para 13. As mentioned on comments of Para 11, objections were raised as early as in 2004 and were ignored. Repeated requests made under RTI Act have been ignored.

Para 15. .”…further reinforced by the final report of August 2004 of NEERI.” This report is before the occurrence of tsunami. Hence, no evaluation has been done on the impact of a tsunami on the chosen alignment. As noted earlier, it is incorrect to state that assertions made by the petitioners were not made earlier. Petitions and submissions made have just been ignored and brushed aside without any reasons being provided. Para 18. The project is a white elephant and will result in a sick unit since the navigational route does not make nautical sense. Alternative transport modes including transshipment of containers by rail or being carried through Pamban gap (using cantilever railway bridge) have not been examined and presented in project reports.

Para 19. Experts’ view is that the project is not economically viable and alternatives of Marine Economic Zone will yield over Rs. 8000 crores of foreign exchange earnings per year as against the estimated annual revenue of Rs. 200 crores from the Setu channel after devastating the livelihood of fisherfolk community along the coast. Both fishing and navigation can NOT co exist in this narrow strait.

Para 20. Misleading. Who has studied about the impact of the tsunami? Where are the rports?

Para 21. Naval and security implications of the project have been questioned by experts including Admiral of Indian Navy and Director General of Coast Guard and Capt. Balakrishnan (Advocate Venugopal’s affidavit).

Para 22. It is INCORRECT to say that petitioners approached the Courts very belatedly. It is only after exhausting all public avenues that the petitioners were forced to appear before the Hon’ble SC after the Centre got the cases transferred to SC from Madras HC. Madras HC had issued instructions on 19 June 2007 prior to the SC orders of 31 August 2007. These Madrs HC orders have NOT been answered SO FAR. Petitions are NOT misconceived, they are in public and national interest. It is the respondent who is misleading the Hon’ble Court as detailed paragraph by paragraph.

Para 24. Bonafides of Eminent Persons Committee, their biases/prejudices and the unfair procedures adopted have been mentioned earlier. We need to get copies of ALL the submissions made before the Committee which was only authorized to collect objections and suggestions and did NOT have the competence nor were authorized by the Hon’ble Court to make any substantive recommendations. IT was a Govt. Committee and not a commission appointed by the Hon’ble SC.

Para 28. The fact that Gulf of Mannar is a Notified Marine National Park makes it a natural property as defined for World Heritage Sites under an international convention to which India is a signatory. This is the ground on which Majuli island of Jorhat Dist. in Assam – the largest river island in the world — is recommended by Govt. to be declared as a World Heritage site. The Rama Setu is the largest bridge in the ocean which has been used as a bridge linking India and Sri lanka unlike the Great Barrier Reef of Australia which is called only a Reef. Why has this aspect NOT been taken into account by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). Why has NOT ASI submitted its response to the Hon’ble Court?

Part 29. Misleading statement. If ASI had NOT done any archaeological study, how could the project report declare that there was NO archaeological site in the project area? Para 41. If Environment Ministry considered the project to be environmentally unacceptable in March 1999, what changed the situation in subsequent years? The project is ab initio illegal because Tamil Nadu Pollution Control clearance was NOT obtained as averred in the petition by J. Jayalalithaa’s petition (Advocate Shri Venugopal). When the sixth alignment was chosen, Environmental Impact Analysis laws stipulated that archaeology studies were mandatory. Why were no archaeological studies undertaken?

Para 43. Arun Jaitley has stated that he told the then PM Atal Behari Vajpayee NOT to go for inaugurating the project since the project was not viable and had many questionable aspects. Arun Jaitly should repeat this statement before the Hon’ble Court.

Para 63. As already noted objections were raised by MS Karunanidhi of Ramanathapuram during public hearings in 2004. These public hearings DID NOT include hearing public views about religious aspects or aspects of peoples’ sentiments.

Para 70. Where are the technical reports answereing the issues raised by Prof. Tad S Murty and others on post-tsunami environment situation and likelihood of another tsunami and protection measures proposed to save the coastal properties and peoples’ lives?

Para 72. The situation of marine products reported has been contradicted by a marine expert Mr. Kannaiyan who was also Chairman of the Environmental Monitoring Committee in a speech delivered in Chennai on 28 Feb. 2008.

Para 73. Why si there no reference to 16 questions raised by PMO and the incoherent answers provided by Chairman of Setu project? Was there enough time and enough exercise of due diligence before the project was inaugurated on 2 July 2005?. How about the US Navy Operational Directive that intervened on 23 June 2005 refusing to recognize the Historic Waters status (declared since June 1974 by Indira Gandhi and Bandaranaike), treating these as International Waters? Why was an International Waters Boudary sought to be created by the channel when no such boundary existed before?

Para 74. ‘Trans-boundaries’ considerations are an issue related to national sovereignty and should be evaluated with refernce to Law of the Sea recognizing Historic Waters and the age-old rights jointly shared by people of India and Srilanka coasts. Srilanka’s concerns have been recorded and have not been answered resulting in likelihood of litigation in International Court of Justice.

Para 77. Badrinarayanan’s answers should be sought in the context of the proposed channel acting as a funnel absorbing the future impacts of future tsunamis devasting the coastline of Tamilnadu and Kerala. The alignment of channel has again been questioned as a disaster by Prof. Tad S Murthy two months ago in Vishakapatnam.

Para 79. Alignment 6 destroys Rama Setu which should be deemed a national monument (see Madras HC judgement of 19 June 2007 for detailed evidences). As noted in a US Superior Court judgement, the sentiments of Navajo people were respected regarding the sacredness of a mountain which was sought to be desiccated by building sewerage facilities. The proposed sewerage project was stopped under the US court orders. Punjab and Haryana HC had deemed Brahmasarovar to be a national monument as regards a real estate project in the area. See also the proposal for Majuli island to be declared a World Heritage or Amarnath caves as a national monument. Even a cave, or stone or body of water can be deemed a national monument.

Para 81. Huge losses to the public exchequer is a red herring. There will be much heavier losses by the project which will required perpetual maintenance dredging for a paltry annual return while devastating the livelihood of 20 lakh coastal people. Alternatives such as Marine Economic Zone have NOT been evaluated at all. For whose benefit of the project? Cut the losses before further damage is caused to the security of the coastline and coastal properties in this nuclear resource zone of the world which accounts for 32% of thorium reserves and are critical for the nation’s nuclear energy program.

Para 84. Respondent admits that NO archaeology study was conducted. So when the Alignment 6 was approved in 2004, a blatant illegality had occurred by a wrong and baseless statement that no archaeological site existed in the project area. The project is rendered ab initio illegal. As an eminent jurist Cardozo observed: “What is ab initio illegal cannot be deemed legal by subsequent discovery.” So the project should be re-studied. The stay on not damaging Rama Setu should be made absolute and the stay should extend to the entire project until all alternatives are evaluated for nation’s development including alternatives such as promotion of heritage and eco-tourism, building east coast railway to link Tuticorin with Kolkata, Colombo with Madurai, Jaffna with Nagapattinam and transshipment of containers from Tuticorin using small vessels navigating through Pamban Gap (using railway cantilever bridge) and of course, setting up Marine Economic Zones with the potential to generate Rs. 10,000 crores in foreign exchange annually through export of marine products from Tamilnadu alone since fish landings in the Indian Ocean have increased five-fold during the last 40 years. Para 88. See comments made upfront about the meaning of secular. Government cannot pass the buck to the Courts. Government’s job is to govern and take the peoples’ sentiments into account.

Para 89. An absurd and extraordinary, shocking request by the Respondent. Hon’ble Supreme Court is not an adjudicator nor an arbitrator to which matters can be dumped for evaluating evidence. It is for the Government to evaluate the issues raised by the Petitions and govern which includes the responsibility to take into account the sentiments of the people as was done in the Jallikattu case in Tamilnadu. Even a government ruled by some atheists should respect the cultural traditions of the people as in the case of Rama Setu which is considered sacred by millions of people world-over. Aasetu Himachalam is Survey of India’s logo representing Rama Setu as the southern boundary of the nation. A civil government should not be destroying monuments as the Taliban did destroying Bamian Buddha calling it mere stone. The request is shocking because the Courts are being treated as extension offices of the State. Courts are NOT extension counters of bureaucracies or the Executive.

What is needed is NOT adjudication but rending of justice which in this case means that Union of India should be asked to read the petitioners averments and respond including the request for declaring Rama Setu as a World Heritage Monument and Rameshwaram as a Divyakshetram (Sacred Town), a teerthasthaanam.

Rule of Law is put to test by the Respondent’s affidavit with misleading averments.

In England even today, the great ruling of Lord Erskine, proclaimed for all time in 1794, holds good even today: “The rules of evidence are founded in the Charities of Religion—in the philosophy of nature – in the truths of history, and in the experienceof common life.

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes (1841-1935) said: “The first requirement of a sound body of Law is, that it should correspond with the actual feelings and demands of the community, whether right or wrong. ….. Law is a Statement of the Circumstances in which the public force will be brought to bear upon men through the Courts.”

Chief Justice Felix Frankfurter in his famous judgement in Alleghany vs Breswick & Co in 1957: “While it is not always profitable to analogize ‘fact’ to ‘fiction’, La Fountaine’s Fable of the Crow, the Cheese, and the Fox demonstrates that there is a substantial difference between holding a piece of cheese in the beak and putting it in the stomach.”

VHP threatens to launch movement on Sethusamudram issue

Kolkata (PTI), March 1, 2008:

Criticising the Congress-led UPA government for seeking court clearance to go ahead with Sethusamudram project, Viswa Hindu Parishad on Saturday threatened to launch a Ramjanmabhoomi-like movement across the country. “The UPA government in its affidavit in the apex court yesterday had sought clearance to go ahead with Sethusamudram project. The Hindus will not keep silent. No one will be able to rule in the country by insulting Hindus”, VHP general secretary Praveen Togadia told reporters here.

Congress which has “challenged the faith of Hindus” should not dream of returning to power after the next Lok sabha poll.

“The UPA government wants to respect the faith of the Muslims and Christians but hurt the sentiments of the Hindus”, he said.

He said ‘sadhus’ would lead the movement but “we will seek the support of all political parties.” The details of the movement would be chalked out within a day or two, he said. To a question, Togadia said that he did not hold any talk with BJP leaders L K Advani or Rajnath Singh on this issue. Criticising the government for alleged communalisation of union budget, Togadia said the UPA government had allocated seperate fund for minority development and decided to open over 280 bank branches in minority-dominated discticts.



2 Responses to “Rama Setu: Centre’s affidavit a string of insults to Courts and to Hindus”

  1. arish k sahani Says:

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    We need good writers ,spititual leaders who can awaken the dead soul of sleeping hindus .while hindus are good businessman,good dr,engineer,good family mand and a friend to his enemy but bad politicians and have no country of his own soon may perish once india gets into the hands of anti hindus.

  2. arish k sahani Says:

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