Save Ram Sethu from insensitive, greedy politicians – Media Reports

Monkeys and Bears build a bridge to Lanka

Ram SethuIt is ill-advised to persist with the Sethusamudram Canal Project

The Centre’s decision to reject the report of the R. K. Pachauri Committee on the Sethusamudram project is unfortunate. The committee has found the project economically and environmentally unviable. In ordinary circumstances, the report should have been the last word on the subject. What prompted the United Progressive Alliance government to go ahead with the controversial project is the pressure tactics employed by the DMK. The project is aimed at linking Palk Bay and the Gulf of Mannar between India and Sri Lanka by creating a shipping channel through the shallow sea. It will be the single most expensive sea project India has ever undertaken.

Opposition to the project is on economic, environmental and religious grounds. Unlike the Suez and Panama canals, which are land-based, the proposed canal is sea-based. Experts are divided on the economic viability of the Sethusamudram project. Ecologists are upset because the project will break the limestone shoals in the Palk Straits, home to precious underwater organisms and plants. These shoals were created over several millenniums and should be treated as a world heritage. For millions of people, these shoals are the visible remains of the Ram Sethu constructed during the Tretha Yuga and described in Valmiki’s Ramayana.

Dr. R. K. PachauriAll this shows that the project is divisive in character with no certainties of profit. Since the Pachauri panel has found it unviable, the government should abandon it. It is true that the Palk Strait is shallow and large vessels headed for India’s eastern coast have to navigate around Sri Lanka. There are alternative proposals, which will save the underwater heritage while opening the Palk Straits to large ships but they are far more expensive. At a time when political harmony is necessary to face the mounting challenges confronting the nation, it will be disastrous to persist with a project that will destroy a national heritage and hurt the religious sentiments of a majority of the people. – The New Indian Express, 25 February 2013

M Karunanidhi & Sonia GandhiKalaignar Karuna slams BJP and AIADMK for double-speak on Sethusamudran Project – Hindustan Times

Flaying BJP and AIADMK for their stand on Sethusamudram project, DMK chief M. Karunanidhi on Sunday said the national party while in power had proposed the alignment for the project which involves dredging of Ram Sethu or Adam’s Bridge, which it is firmly opposed to now.

Asking Centre to expedite steps to ensure a favourable verdict on the matter in the Supreme Court, the key UPA ally also said “some communal forces” [i.e. Dr. Subramanian Swamy] had moved the apex court with a view to creating roadblocks.

“After considering various proposals over the route, then NDA government under A.B. Vajpayee had decided to implement the project on Alignment No. 6 which involves the Adam’s Bridge.

“Having forgotten that and now opposing dredging of Ram sethu … the conflict (in BJP’s stand) should be thought about,” he said in a statement here.

Jayalalithaa & L.K. AdvaniThe Pachauri Committee, which submitted its report to the Supreme Court, has said the Sethusamudram shipping channel project is not viable on economic and ecological grounds.

Government has rejected the report and maintained that it intends to pursue the project which will cut through the Adam’s Bridge, popularly known as Ram Sethu.

BJP spokesperson Ravishankar Prasad had said his party and the nation “will not tolerate” any tampering with the Ram setu, asking why cutting through it was the only solution.

On AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa’s demand to the Prime Minister that Rama sethu be declared a national monument, Karunanidhi said the Tamil Nadu chief minister had claimed in 2005 that it was due to her efforts that preliminary work on the project was initiated in 1998 and that she had been a reason for its taking shape.

The party had in its 2001 poll manifesto also spoke in favour of the Sethusamudram project, he said and added she had turned against it since she didn’t want DMK to take credit.

Sethusamudaram Project MapRecalling that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi besides himself, then chief minister, had attended the inauguration of the project at Madurai, Karunanidhi said even then some had unsuccessfully approached the Supreme Court for a stay against the function.

“With the project going at good pace under then shipping minister T.R. Baalu, some communal forces had taken the issue to the Supreme Court with a view to creating roadblocks.”

Centre should take steps to get a favourable verdict from the court and ensure a better livelihood for people of southern Tamil Nadu, he said.

Ram Setu is the bridge on which Lord Ram and his army crossed the sea to invade Ravan’s kingdom. The project envisages dredging of a shipping channel across the Palk Straits between India and Sri Lanka. – Hindustan Times, 24 February 2013

Anton GomezMoney spent on Sethusamudram Project under scanner – M. Aruloli

Fishermen, leaders in the coastal districts of the south have demanded an enquiry into the amount spent for the controversial Sethu project till it was stayed by the Supreme Court on September 1, 2007.

The cost estimation was done in an unscientific manner following the withdrawal of Axis bank from its earlier agreement of offering a loan of about Rs 1,500 crore for the project at 7 per cent interest, alleged Mr Anton Gomez, president of the ILO-affiliated National Union of Fishermen (NUF).

T.R. BaaluHe said the Union government had increased its share from the original Cabinet committee and finance committee-approved Rs 450 crore to Rs 785.88 crore by allotting Rs 150 crore, Rs 111.88 crore and Rs 524 crore in three consecutive Union budgets since 2005. “This revision of the Union government’s share in the Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project (SSCP), however, was not properly approved by Parliament or the Cabinet or finance committee,” said Mr Gomez.

More than that, the contradictory statements of then Union shipping minister T.R. Baalu and Union minister for statistics and programme implementation, Mr G.K. Vasan, over the amount spent for the project for the two years from 2005 raked up the suspicion of gross financial misappropriation in the implementation of the Sethu project.

“While Mr Baalu told the media on September 22, 2007 that Rs 600 crore was spent and 80 per cent of the project was completed, the Union ministry of statistics and programme implementation report G.K. Vasan(December 2008, page-358) states that Rs 576.71 crore was spent to complete 58 per cent of the project up to March 2008,” noted Mr Gomez, who added that even after the project was stayed by the Supreme Court in September 2007, the government allotted Rs 10 crore for the project in its 2008 budget.

Thus, the fishermen leader smells something fishy in the Sethu project and demands a detailed enquiry before the Union government resuming the project.

Based on the alleged financial malpractice in the SSCP, fishermen leaders like Prof Fathima Babu, M. Pushparayan, John P. Rayan plan to kick-off a mass campaign that is expected to receive the backing of the AIADMK and BJP. “We are working on coordinating our community leaders in the six coastal districts of Tamil Nadu on the issue,” said Prof Fathima Babu, who has written to Greenpeace seeking support in their fight against the Sethu project. – Deccan Chronicle, 26 February 2013

Sethusamudran Alternative Alignments

NB: Most reports today identify the channel cutting through Ram Sethu as Alignment 6. In this chart it is identified as Alignment 5.

See also

One Response

  1. Dear Sir,

    Can anybody stop the greed, feel no.


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