SSCP ultravires of the Constitution: SC should give an injunction scrapping the project
Illegalities of SSCP and points of law
Fundamental questions of law related to Evidence. Mythology is history and traditions are evidence and courts have to respect the traditions as evidence. There is no need to produce evidence about Rama, Ramayana or Rama Setu.
Committee admits the historical reality of Rama Setu.
Committee was not duly constituted with persons of required expertise; committee was composed of persons with bias -- photo of Ramachandran honoring Karunanidhi when the latter was fasting against SC judgment (contempt of court proceedings pending)-- and conflicts of interest under employ as contractors for the project; committee procedures were NOT transparent, did not get all suggestions from all concerned citizens, conducted proceedings for about a week only in Chennai, held them in camera without allowing public participation; DID NOT care to evaluate over 8000 pages of evidence submitted on over 160 topics (evidence attached since the Committee Report has not been made public). Under RTI Act, the petitioners are entitled to receive copies of all submissions made and full deliberations of the Committee which were video-taped.
The Environmental Protection enactments and regulations mandate an archaeological study as part of the Environmental Impact Analysis. The EIA report of NEERI (August 2004) makes a bland statement that there is no archaeological site in the project area.
This is a violation of the Constitutional provisions related to the protection and preservation of monuments – a fundamental duty and a responsibility of the State.
Articles 48 and 49 of the Constitution:
3[48A. Protection and improvement of environment and safeguarding of forests and wild life.—The State shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wild life of the country.]
49. Protection of monuments and places and objects of national importance.—It shall be the obligation of the State to protect every monument or place or object of artistic or historic interest, 4[declared by or under law made by Parliament] to be of national importance, from spoliation,
3 Ins. by the Constitution (Forty-second Amendment) Act, 1976 by s. 10, (w.e.f. 3-1-1977).
Article 51A. Fundamental duties.—It shall be the duty of every citizen of India—
(e) to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities; to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women;
(f) to value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture;
(g) to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life, and to have compassion for living creatures;
(h) to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform;
(i) to safeguard public property and to abjure violence…
Violation of The Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and international obligations under UN Law of the Sea 1958 to protect habitats of migrating aquatic life and resources
Violation of the legal requirement for obtaining Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board clearance.
Violation of the Environmental Ptotection regulations in not conducting archaeological studies
Violation of the Charter which mandates GSI to be involved in development projects since this is the over-150=year old, premier institution for earth sciences, in a project area which is hazardous and risky, it is incumbent on the Govt. to study these impacts. Both GSI and NIO have also Marine Archaeology wings, apart from ASI which has a Marine Archaeology Wing.
Violation of Sec 304(A) of IPC for approving an alignment which has potential to endanger lives of more than bare minimum number of people as public servants are facing in the Uphaar Cinema case even after demitting their offices.
Violation of international conventions to which India is a signatory and which override national laws:
UN Law of the Sea (1958), implications of creating a virtual international waters boundary by keeping the channel just 3 kms. west of the medial line declared in 1974 by Sirimavo Bandaranaike and Indira Gandhi.
Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage (2001)
Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (November 1972)
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) (1975)
Protecting the Cultural Heritage (National Legislations and International Conventions)/Sachindra Sekhar Biswas. 1999, 263 p., 11 plates, $66. ISBN 81-7305-150-X.
Contents: Preface. Part I: 1. Introduction. 2. The Indian Treasure Trove Act, 1878. 3. The Ancient Monuments Preservation Act, 1904. 4. The Antiquities (Export Control) Act, 1947. 5. The Antiquities (Export Control) Rules, 1947. 6. The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958. 7. The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Rules, 1959. 8. The Antiquities and Art Treasures Act, 1972. 9. The Antiquities and Art Treasures Rules, 1973. 10. How's and why's of antiquities regulations. Some questions answered. Part II: 11. UNESCO Convention for the protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict (The Hague, 1954). 12. Review of the convention for the protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict (The Hague Convention of 1954): extract--Patrick J. Boylan, 1993. 13. Recommendation for the protection of movable cultural property, 1978. 14. Final Act of the Diplomatic Conference for the Adoption of the Draft Unidroit Convention on the international return of stolen or illegally exported cultural objects. 15. Standard form concerning requests for return or restitution. 16. Convention on the means of prohibiting and preventing the illicit import, export and transfer of ownership of cultural property (Paris, 1970). 17. List of states having deposited an instrument of ratification, acceptance, accession or succession as of July, 1955. 18. Regulation for the execution of the convention for the protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict. 19. ICOM code of professional ethics. 20. Guidelines for loans. Index.
"The present volume, Protecting the Cultural Heritage--National Legislations and International Conventions is a pioneering work. It provides for the first time a complete view of antiquarian laws of India and those in the international field as promulgated by the UNESCO and agreed by the world community. Here is a most successful attempt to being forth all the Indian acts and rules regarding art and antiquities in historical sequence since 1878 providing an insight to the scholars, students, lawyers as also those dealing with antiquities and art objects. International Conventions and agreements are included in the volume to make an awareness of leval position in case of dispute in the matter of cultural heritage." (jacket)
[S.S. Biswas in Chairman of UNESCO - ICOM Asia Pacific Organisation. Earlier he served as Director General, National Museum, New Delhi.]
Concerns of the neighbouring State Sri Lanka not addressed.
UNESCO conventions: 1) Underwater Cultural Heritage; 2) World Heritage. Example of Majuli river island in Jorhad Dist. and action taken by Govt. of India to approach the UNESCO to declare this as a World Heritage monument.
Haryana Court order deeming Brahmasarovar in Kurukshetra to be a national monument. RAM SARUP VS STATE OF HARYANA (AIR 1993 PUNJAB AND HARYANA 204)
Section 295 IPC. Not hurting sentiments of people and communities. Jallikattu case.
Failure of the respondent to answer the orders of Madras HC judgement of June 19, 2007 which listed evidences justifying the declaration of Rama Setu as a national monument (even a cave, stone or body of water is a monument when people reasonably believe…) and asked for a specific answer to Sir A Ramaswamy Mudaliar’s observation to ABANDON the idea of cutting a channel passage through Rama Setu/Adam’s Bridge. The respondent concedes NOW the existence of Rama Setu.
Respondent seems to speak in multiple voices. ISRO book calls Rama Setu a man-made structure. DOE note to the President and the Consultant of NIOT report refers to Rama Setu as a man-made structure. Tamil Nadu Tourism Department issues an advertisement asking pilgrims to visit Rama Setu and see the floating stone.
Lakhs of people congregate every year on Ashadha Amavasya day to offer tarpanam in the Sea for ancestors. This is a sacred tirthasthanam. One of Four Dhams.
Financial viability and economic costs
Committee admits Sethu project report made errors in calculations
In its 116-page report, the "committee of eminent persons", as the government-appointed group is known, says Rs350 crore has been spent so far and that the original expectations of the channel will have to be modified. It says some numbers mentioned in the original project report lack financial analysis.
It wrote: "The consultants in the detailed project report (DPR) have taken channel length as 152km for calculation of savings in time charters, whereas the actual channel length is 167.22km. These difference, in channel length and savings in distance, will have some impact on the savings of ships."
Further, the 10-member committee says the shallow depth of the channel will force ships to slow more than estimated.
"As regards the comments made on the approach and assumptions adopted in the DPR, the main argument against the DPR rests on the distance that will be saved by ships that are coming from Europe, America, Africa (as they) need not come to Cape Comorin for going around Sri Lanka," the committee wrote, referring to the cape at Kanyakumari, the southernmost point in India. "This observation is valid as the ships coming from Europe, America, Africa, etc., need not come to Cape Comorin for going around Sri Lanka. To that extent the savings in distance, particularly for non-coastal cargo, will be less."
In a section on environment, the committee recommends a special, low-sulphur fuel for ships navigating the biosphere reserve, to reduce the pollution.
"As a mariner, it was good to see the committee admit that the channel is 15 nautical miles longer than what they said and that ships will not be able to travel at eight nautical miles in such a shallow channel," Capt. Balakrishnan said.
"When the draft available to them is only a couple of meters, ships cannot run their propellers because they may run aground," he added.
The low sulphur fuels that the committee recommends for ships using the channel cost about $908 (Rs36,774) per gallon, nearly twice the price of regular fuel that ships use on high seas. According to Bunkerworld, a website that monitors fuel prices worldwide, regular heavy oil fuel that ships use on open seas costs $480.
All these new factors make the old estimates irrelevant, observers say.
Sri Rameswaram Ramsetu Raksha Manch (Sri Rameswaram Ramsetu Protection Forum), Sankat Mochan Ashram, Ramakrishna Puram-6, New Delhi 110022; Telefax 011-26103495, 26178992).
VHP/764/2008 Dated: March 03, 2008
Media statement of General Secretary of Sri Rameswaram Ramsetu Raksha Manch, Shri S. Vedantam and President of Vishva Hindu Parishad, Shri Ashok Singhal
The UPA government at the centre has decided to file an over smart and scheming affidavit with the Supreme Court of India that downright preempts the historicity of Ram. This insensitive and defeatist government stance is now all over the media. By this offensive and monstrous stand, the government has hurt the cultural sensibilities of crores of people of the country.
The government would remember, and it must not forget it, that a historic grand conference of 10 lakh people was held in Delhi on December 30, 2007 to register the demands for protection of Ram Setu and its declaration as a historic national heritage. Before that on September 10, 2007 when the Central Government in an affidavitto the Supreme Court had denied the existence of Ram and the Ramayana, the whole country responded with widespread and successful 'Chakka Jam' protests on September 12, 2007.
The Ram Setu Raksha Manch urges the entire Hindu society to take out motor-cycle and scooter rallies all over the country on March 04-05 (Tuesday and Wednesday), 2008 to express their opposition to the government decision to file affidavit in the Supreme Court on March 05, 2008 whereby it wants to get the stay order regarding Ram Setu vacated. The rallies should culminate in meetings to address the nationalist issue.
By averring these in an affidavit that there is no scientific proof of the existence of Ram Setu and that it is not man-made but a natural formation, the Government of India has again tried to reject the existence of Sri Ram. It has also conspired to trash various other historical evidences of lakhs of years that corroborate the truth of Ram Setu. Therefore, it is about time the people of the country put themselves on high gear to assert the historicity of Ram-Krishna and save their hoary and holistic beliefs, ethos and moorings.
This affidavit maintains a hush on the questions that the Hon'ble High Court and the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India had asked of the Government of India to expressly address in the affidavit pertaining to the Sethusamudram Shipping Channel Project (SSCP) and the Rama Setu.
The Hon'ble Courts had asked –
Why was the Ramsetu-breaking alignment picked out when the Government had 6 suggested alignments to consider? Why were not the other alternative routes taken into account?
The Government had been asked and its attention drawn to show cause as to why not the Ramsetu be declared a National Heritage? Has the Government got the matter examined to declare it a National Heritage site?
The Central Government has not at all addressed these questions in the affidavit.
The Central Government had already given a show of its infected mindset and vested interests by forming an Eminent Persons Committee that included only its handpicked 'Yes Persons'. Their anti-Ram and anti-Ramayan stance is now more pronounced by the report of the so-called Committee. There has been acute humiliation of the country and its scientists of standing by this line up of lies, as there are many so-called scientists/experts on this Committee who are pronouncedly anti-Ram and anti-Bharatiya culture.
Only recently the Government of India recommended many 'Namghars' (Places of Worship) situated on the 'Majuli Island' of River Brahmaputra to be declared as National Heritage centres. These institutions are about 350 years old. Also, when recently some people opposed and initiated a litigation to stop the ancient 'Jalli-Kattu' festival of Madurai region of Tamil Nadu ('Jalli' is 'Bull' and 'kattu' is 'Catch/contain' in Tamil. It is, therefore, the 'Bull Overpowering' festival by the agrarian society that depends upon 'Bull Power' for prosperity), in that matter the Government of Tamil Nadu approached the Supreme Court to save the celebrations from being stopped terming it as a subject of 'faith' (aasthaa) and tradition. The Supreme Court gave an order to the effect that aasthaa should be protected. But, in the case of Ram Setu, both these governments, under cover of so-called secularism, are opposed to recognizing it as a matter of 'faith' and, thus, being dishonest and playing with the cultural and civilizational sensibilities of the people of the country. Development can always be reconciled with such vital national sensibilities.
Today why is not the Ram Temple being constructed at Sri Ram Janma Bhumi and why is not the Ram Setu being recognized? The main reason is that the Government of India has a dirty mindset not to accept the historicity of Ram. In this way, by denying the existence of Ram, this secular gang is making efforts to diffuse the movement for construction of the Janmabhumi Temple. Its line is that there was no Ram, therefore, where is the question of Sriram Janma Bhumi, Ram Setru and the Ramayana?
They denied our Ram-Krishna, Vedas-Puranas and Sarasvati River and are now denying the Ram Setu – the empirical evidence of the times and exploits of Sri Ram – whereas Sri Ram is in fact a historical personage. After independence, the Government of India should have justifiably glorified the places that Sri Ram sojourned through during His exile days, and even today people celebrate hundreds of these places, but this government by denying the existence of Ram is bent upon destroying the existence of all these historic landmarks bearing the footprints of Ram that dot the North-South corridor. Now the Hindu society must be extremely vigilant.
In fact it would have been proper on the part of the Central Government that in line with the belief of Bharatiya culture it should have accepted the historicity of Ram and declared the Ram Setu as historic national heritage in the affidavit to the Supreme Court. Instead, it has committed a grave crime by doing gymnastics to re-assert its old stand of non-existence of Sri Ram with new jugglery of words.
The Government of India must refrain from getting the stay order vacated so long as the protection of Ram Setu is not ensured, as the impartiality of the Government is now under question in view of its behaviour with Hindus marked by crookedness and polluted mindset.
So long as the Ram Setu is not declared a historic national heritage, the strong movement for protection of Ram Setu would continue unabated. By utilizing their constitutional rights, the people of the country, would continue the movement for protection of Ram Setu and stop not till the goal is reached.
Released by Sri Rameswaram Ramsetu Raksha Manch
March 3, 2008: Comments of Dr. S. Kalyanaraman on the Committee’s report included in the Respondent’s affidavit
Baalu Committee report shockingly indulges in suggestio falsi, suppression veri, is a misleading document and should be dismissed with contempt as a command performance
In over 50 years of my active public life, I have not seen a more dishonest, unprofessional document than this 2 volume report, absolutely devoid of moral ethic which should govern the search for truth. It is distressing that scientists and scholars can do so (using the public exchequer funds), which will adversely impact the levels of confidence the public repose on professionals and the levels of honesty which the public expect from such people who are supposed to be on the vanguard for achieving abhyudayam. If the fence eats away the field, who will guard the crop? In this sick situation, only dharma of aam aadmi can protect and safeguard the rashtram and future generations.
Cabinet Secretariat Order No. 652/2/1/2007CA –III, dated 5th October, 2007:
"The terms of reference of the Committee will be to invite objections and suggestions from all concerned including the writ Petitioners having interest in the subject matter and to consider all suggestions/proposals/documents after giving them a personal hearing as per submissions made before Supreme Court contained in its Order dated 14thSeptember, 2007 in WP © 413/2007, etc. The Committee will decide its own procedure for conducting its proceedings, personal hearings and dealing with the petitions.." (Page 16, Vol. II of Report of Eminent Persons on Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project, November 2007 – hereinafter called Report).
The Committee's Report includes powerpoint presentation slides on Pages 49 to 69. These are the same presentation slides already included in the Sethusamudram Corporation website and which was made in a seminar held with Mr. Sibal, Min. of Science and Technology on 2 June 2007 (Press onference by Min. of Science and Technology kept at http://sethusamudram.gov.in/English_Index.asp )
According to the Project Status recorded on this website dredged quantity is reported as follows:
As seen from the slide on Page 61 (Report Vol II), canal's width is 300 m. for 2 way traffic and depth of 12 m, project cost Rs. 2427.40 Crs..
Total length of the canal is 167 km.
Length of dredging required at Adam's Bridge 35 km
Length of dredging required at Palk Strait 54 km.
North of Adam's Bridge (B-C Stretch) 13.38 Kms Dredging done 24.76% till 17/9/2007
Palk Bay/ Palk Strait (E-E4 Stretch) 54.25 Kms Dredging done 46.07% till 10/10/2007
As noted on Page 89 (Report Vol II), the Committee had received huge volumes of materials upto 31 October 200 and there were annexures running into almost 2000 pages in one court itself and public hearing continued only for 7 seven days upto 6thNovember 2007 only in Chennai. Even though advertisements were issued in all national language dailies, submissions were requested only in English and hearings were not held even in the cities near the Project area. The hearings were closed and not open to the media. This procedure prevented from many members of the public and experts from making their submissions.
The report shockingly indulges in selective dissemination of received submissions, culling out only submissions which support the case of the Respondents and which justify only the 6thalignment. This is absolute lack of transparency and honesty in dealing with the submissions in a rational and systematic manner. Given the enormity of the documentation submitted, it is surprising that within one month the Committee was able to evaluate all the submission. In fact, the Committee's Terms of Reference DO NOT include such evaluation and such value-judgements by the Committee, the composition of which itself is biased including atheists and who had worked for the project thus compromising their integrity with conflict of interest.
The Committee did NOT include experts from the areas of marine archaeology, navigation (mariners and merchant navy), national security, geology (GSI), oceanography (NIO), tsunami, trade unions or members of fishermens' federations. The warnings contained in the Nature magazine of 6 Sept. 2007 have just been ignored. These warnings are so serious related to an impending tsunami more devastating than the 26 Dec. 2007 tsunami, that any project work may put the entire coast line property and lives of people at risk.
Geopolitical experts should also be consulted on the implications of virtually creating an international waters boundary since the 6thalignment chosen is simply marked as running 3 kms. west of the medial line between India and Srilanka (a line drawn in a declaration called Indira Gandhi-Sirimano Bandaranaike Declaration of June 1974). Srilanka has indicated that it may go the International Court of Justice on their interests adversely impacted by the Project.
We clearly see that eminent scientists and experts have made submissions which have not been deliberated upon by the Committee.
It is necessary that all the submissions made to the Committee to establish that the Committee has indulged in a command performance and taken only references which support the case of the Respondent. Requests for copies of the submissions have NOT been complied with so far.
Even requests made under Right to Information Act made by one of the Petitioners and AK Venkatasubramanian, IAS (Retd.) of Catalyst Trust have not been complied with so far by the Respondent, Union of India.
The list of materials supplied includes "Marine Geo-Physical Surveys carried out for the proposed Sethu Samudram Navigational Channel (Feb. 2005) by NIOT – 132 pages). A copy of the Report has been asked for and not given so far. This Report includes an evaluation by the Consultant of NIOT that there was human activity and that the lithologs of 10 bore wells indicate that rock layers were brought in from outside since they could not have been formed by the sea. Detailed Reportshas also been given for example, by Dr. CSP Iyer, Dr. Parchure and Dr. Gopalakrishnan on geotectonics, geothermal activity, geoencironment, oceanography and environmental impacts – reports which scientifically quesstion the reliability of the information provided powerpoint presentation mentioned earlier; by Capt. Balakrishnan on navigation and naval security aspects, by Dr. S. Kalyanaraman providing to the Committee recommendations of Dr. SR Rao, eminent Marine Archaeologist of the Country, on implications of another tsunami based on studies of Prof. Tad S Murty and other scientists including the report in Nature Magazine of 6 Sept. 2007, the International Law of the Sea and International Obligations under World Heritage and Underwater Cultural Heritage Conventions of UNESCO to which Indis is a signatory.. These expert submissions have a profound relevance in determining the viability of the project itself.
The Report fails to record that in 1999 the Environmental Ministry refused to clear the project on environmental considerations and recommended that the project be scrapped.
The Report fails to note that clearance was not obtained from Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (as confirmed by the then CM Smt. Jayalalithaa in her affidavit to the SC). In Orissa, the Court had ordered the stoppage of a project which was approved without obtaining Pollution Control Board Clearance from the Govt. of Orissa.
The Report also fails to note that 37 Srilankan Experts had submitted a Report after one-year's study and concluded, inter alia, that water supply to Jaffna and Rameshwaram will be adversely affected if dredging is carried out on Rama Setu.
The Report also fails to note the opinions of scientists like Dr. Kannaiyan who was Chairman of the Environment Monitoring Committee for the Project and Dr. Gopalakrishna, Dr. Badrinarayanan, Dr. Subramanian, who wre Directors in Geological Survey of India who have reiterated that blasting or dredging activity in the project area will devastate the coastal reefs and aquatic wealth, apart from causing coastal erosions, mini-tsunamis triggered by fault-lines and geothermal activity.
Ab initio illegality has been not involving Geological Survey of India and National Institute of Oceanography in this ocean project, an involvement mandated by law.
The Committee was also informed about the public sentiments, expressed through the movement of Rameshwaram Rama Setu Protection Movement (RRPM).
MS Karunanidhi of Rameshwaram had submitted objections during Public Hearings in 2004 that the Project would cut through the sacred Rama Setu. These were ignored.
RRPM had conducted two scientific and security seminars in Chennai and Delhi and a group of scientists had conducted a seminar in Trivandrum. Many conferences and public meetings were held all over the country including the Mahasammelan of 30 Dec. 2007 in Delhi which was attended by nearly 15 lakh people from all parts of the country and resolutions were adopted in these seminars, conferences and meetings and submitted to the Respondents. 35 lakh signatures were submitted to the President of India protesting the proposed destruction of Rama Setu. Seminar papers have also been published and submitted to the Respondents.
The Respondents went to the Supreme Court by having the cases transferred from Madras HC. Instead of responding to the orders issued on 19 June 2007 by Madras HC. this transfer move was made only on the request of the Union of India. So, it is misleading to state that the Petitioners came late to the Hon'ble SC with their petitions.
A 50-tonne, 15 metre long spud is still lying unsalvaged for over 10 months now. If this is the state of salvaging a Rs. 8 crore tool used by dredgers, one shudders at the prospectof navigating through the narrow channel in the mid-ocean with the clear and present danger of grounding with no possibility of mounting salvage operations of the type in place for example in Suez Canal.
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.
Hon'ble Supreme Court cannot be asked to adjudicate State incompetence. The court should pass an order of injunction staying the project disaster called mid-ocean Channel passage.
Constitution empowers the Court is with the responsibility of enforcing the Rule of Law. Under clear separation of powers, it is State responsibility to respect peoples' sentiments, which is the very foundation and basic feature of the Constitution of the Republic of India, a Republic of laws.
A prima facie illegality has been committed by not conducting archaeological study before inaugurating work on Alignment 6 for the mid-ocean Channel, an undertaking unprecedented in human history.
Rama Setu: Centre's affidavit, bucking the State's Constitutional responsibility
Mirrored at: http://hinduthought.googlepages.com/baalucommittee1.doc
It is the submission of the Petitioners that matters of sentiment and tradition do not have to submitted to mundane frameworks of historicity. Mythology is essence of history – the very essence of peoples' perceptions of their identity and world-view --and tradition is evidence. This identity and world-view constitute sentiments of millions of people worldwide in relation to Rama, Ramayana and Rama Setu which is a metaphor for the victory of good over eveil, victory of dharma over a-dharma.
In Paragraph 85 of the Respondent (Min. of Shipping) Affidavit, it is stated: "In Chapter 9, views expressed against and in favour of the project from the historical and cultural perspectives have been enumerated. It has noted that no archaeological studies have been undertaken in the Ramasethu/Adam's Bridge area by Archaeological Survey of India. Following this comprehensive study, conducted on the basis of several previous studies carried out by individuals and institutions over the years, the Committee has come to certain conclusions, which are enumerated in Chapter 10. The Committee has now submitted its Report and it is placed before the Hon'ble Court for appropriate decision."
Chapters 9 and 10 mentioned above are reproduced below.
It is extraordinary that the Respondent (Secretary, Ministry of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways) who claims that the Counter affidavit is on behalf of the Respondents Union of India, fails to note that the Committee was NOT appointed by the Hon'ble Court but by the Union of India.
Since the Committee was engaged by the Union of India,it is the responsibility of the Union of India, in particular the Respondents Archaeological Survey of India and Ministry of Culture to either own up their own appointee's that is, the Committee's Report.
It is strange that the Union of India now disowns its own Committee's observations. The Respondent's affidavit notes in Paragraph 87: "Whereas the Committee of Eminent Persons has examined the available evidence and arrived at certain conclusions relating to the nature of the structure called Adam's Bridge/Ram Setu, issues of faith, except those in which historicity of an event is subject to adjudication, cannot be resolved by taking recourse to science or scientific evidence." This averment, absurd by itself, directly contracts the views of the Committee contained on Page 111 (Committee's Report): "The Committee scrutinized the literary, epigraphic, numismatic, sculptural, cartographic and other lines of evidence cited by the petitioners and others in support of the historicity of Rama Sethu. Popular beliefs and traditions about the Ramayana and Rama Sethu have an antiquity covering at least 1500 years in the country. In Tamil Nadu these traditions/beliefs cover 400 to 500 years."
Why should the Court be called upon to adjudicate or arbitrate between Union of India and a Committee appointed by the Union of India itself – an entity created by the Union of India. The Committee is not a Court-appointed Advocate's Commission. It has been argued separately that the Committee composition, procedures and biases, atheist foundations and conflicts of interests of some members make the entire Committee deliberations illegal and unacceptable. The Committee's Report also selectively culls out the submissions/objections and presents with a pre-conceived bias in support of the Project.
The bias and illegal procedures are evidenced by the fact that the Madras HC judgement of 11 pages delivered on 19 June 2007 have not been presented in the Committee's Report despite the evidences summarized in that judgement. The Committee have also failed to live up to their Terms of Reference and have not submitted the entire sets of over 8000 pages of submissions made to them covering over 160 topics. Petitioners will retain the right to call for these submissions from the Union of India and to submit the available documentation to the Court in support of the principal contention of the Petitioners that the Project should not be complemented cutting through Rama Setu and that Rama Setu should be declared/deemed to be an Ancient Monument of National Importance.
The Committee's observations bristles with contradictions as may be seen even from a preliminary reading. On Page 113, the Committee notes a submission regarding ancient human settlements dating to 18000 to 8000 years before present and at the same time states that this reported evide3nce has no relevance to events mentioned in the Ramayana. How could the Committee conclude so when they have not found it within their competence to the date the events mentioned in the Ramayana?
It is also shocking that in Paragraph 88 of the Respondent's Affidavit that the following authoritative statement has been made: "The Union of India is of the belief that it should not be called upon to respond to issues of faith, except in recognizing their existence." This averment raises a fundamental constitutional issue, impacting the basic feature of the Constitution, the meaning of the word 'Secular' used in the Preamble (as amended). The word is translated in the Official Hindi version as 'pantha nirapekshataa' that is, neutrality as to different paths of belief systems.
Rama Setu issue as submitted by the Petitioners is based on tradition and sentiments of millions of people world-wide. This is reality, as reality as the sacredness attached to Ganga or Himalayas (Amarnath or Kedarnath or Gangotri) or Mahakumbh held every 12 years. It is an emphatic reality of tradition that lakhs of pilgrims go to Rama Setu to make offerings to the ancestors (pitru tarpanam) on Ashadha Amavasya day, year after year and include this tirthasthaanam as part of the chaar dham (four sacred tirthasthaana) yatras.
It is incumbent upon the Union of India to respect the sentiments based on tradition wich is as emphatic as any evidence which can be produced in the justice system. A civil society cannot be allowed to behave like the Taliban who destroyed the Bamiyan Budedha calling it a mere stone.
Rama Setu is not a mere stone or body or cave of water. It inheres the very essence of the identity of the nation as evidenced by the Survey of India logo: aasetu himachalam (meaning: from Setu to Himalayas), defining this bridge effectively as the southern boundary indicator. It also signifies the unity of the nation recollecting as received socio-cultural memory of the travels of Sri Rama from Ayodhya to Sri Lanka to win over a-dharmic forces. As noted by former Supreme Court Justice Shri VR Krishna Iyer, to create a channel cutting through Rama Setu, will be an unpatriotic act impinging upon national sovereignty if the Historic waters of the IndiraGandhi-Sirimavo Bandaranaike declaration of 1974 is converted into an International Waters boundary by creating this channel exactly, just 3 kms. west of the medial line between India and Sri Lanka.
In Paragraph 10.2 of the Committee's Report while citing the examples of Suez Canal in Egypt and Panama Canal in Panama, there is a surprising failure to note the fact that the proposed mid-ocean channel passage (as opposed to Suez and Panama which are land-based canals) is unprecended in the history of navigation anywhere in the world. No such mid-ocean channel passage has ever been created and bristles with problems of stability as noted by Sir A. Ramaswamy Mudaliar in their first post-indepence Report on navigation across Gulf of Mannar and Palk Strait. They clearly noted that the idea of cutting a channel passage through Rama Setu/Adam's Bridge should be ABANDONED. Despite Madras HC directive to answer this observation of Ramaswamy Mudaliar Committee, Union of India remains silent. What is left unstated in the submissions of the Respondent and the attached Committee Report is a tale of shocking misleading statements, indulging in suggestion falsi and suppression veri, thus negating the very foundations of justice.
It is for the Union of India to engage the necessary expertise to determine the nature of Rama Setu and the high-handed submission made by the Respondent should be rejected as unjust and untenable "IT is now for the Hon'ble Court to resolve the contentious issues raised by the Petitions in the context of the evidence available…" Court is not an appendage of the Union of India. It is not for the Hon'ble Court to resolve contentious issues which should be deliberated upon by the Union of India. The Hon'ble Court should take serious exception to such a high-handed plea made shirking the responsibility of the State, negating the very foundations of separation of powers, a basic feature of the Constitution.
The Hon'ble Court can only respond to request for judicial opinion if the request comes from Her Excellency the President of India in case any constitutional issue or issue of law is referred to the Court for such an opinion.
Given the tendentious nature of the Respondents in dealing with the issues raised by the Petitioners, a humble submission is made to the Hon'ble Court to declare an injunction absolutely staying all work on the entire project and direct the Respondents to re-examine alternative transport modes to achieve the same purpose served bya canal to transship and navigate goods from Tuticorin to Nagapattinam and beyond, if necessary using the existing Pamban Gap which operated with a cantilever Railway Bridge.
March 1, 2008: Comments of Dr. S. Kalyanaraman on the Respondent’s Affidavit and Committee Report which has been made a part of the affidavit.
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 not 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 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.
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."
March 3, 2008: Capt. Balakrishnan’s observations:
I had a request from Dr. S.Kalyanaraman this morning to submit in brief, my analysis of the 'Report by The Committee of Eminent Persons' on the SSCP with respect to 'security related issues'.
I had deposed before the Committee in Chennai on 31 Oct 2007. Prior to my deposition,about four days prior, I had been to the Committee's office and handed over my 'Mariner's Perspective Analysis - Parts1 -5. Part 6, was my talk at ORF-Chennai on 03 NOV 2007. It was moderated by the Head of the Department of Defence Studies,Dr. Gopalji Malavya. As I found him taking copious notes during my talk,I presume he would have briefed The Vice Chancellor, Dr. Ramachandran, who was the convenor of the Committee.
In this light, I enclose below,' in brief ', my analysis of the Reportby the Committee of Eminent Persons, with respect to 'security related issues'.I have typed the Committee's Report 'parawise' and below each para have offered my 'Comments', in brief.
PARAWISE ANALYSIS OF THE "REPORT" - SECURITY RELATED ISSUES
1. Para 5.6.2 of Report (pp-59): " In fact, no major scientific study based on threat matrix is available that could discourage the construction of the SSCP. However, a few scholars and thinkers have raised the security concerns in view of possible threats by Sea Tigers (Naval Wing of the LTTE)
2. Comment: In an Article in the Chennai eveninger 'Newstoday', of 02 FEB 2008,entitled "SSCP - A Tamil tiger’s and a Tamil spider’s trap - II", Shri V.Sundaram,I.A.S (retd),First Chairman, Tuiticorin Port Trust, wrote: " I was the first Chairman of Tuticorin Port Trust and I also had the opportunity of serving as a Member of the Laxmi Narayanan Setu Samudram Project Committee (SSCP) which was appointed in 1981.Laxmi Narayanan was then the Development Adviser in the Ministry of Shipping. I participated in the programme of Public Hearings organised by the Laxmi Narayanan Committee in Ramanathapuram, Rameshwaram, Madurai, Madras and Cochin between July 1981 and May 1982. I clearly recall the meeting I and Laxmi Narayanan had with Sri.Mohinder Singh IAS (Rajasthan Cadre) who was then Secretary to the Government of India in the Ministry of Shipping and Transport on 4th of July 1982 at his Office in Transport Bhavan, New Delhi. Sri Mohinder Singh had received a letter from the then Union Defence Secretary (I don’t remember his name) and he informed us in very clear terms: “The Defence Secretary has categorically stated that the Setu Samudram Canal Project (SSCP) will be a disastrous project from the more vital point of view of National Security. Thus the Defence Ministry will never be in a position to give their concurrence to SSCP. This means that Laxmi Narayanan Committee will be viewed only as an academic exercise and put in cold storage by the Government of India.” That is what precisely happened subsequently.
3. Dr Subramanian Swamy told the Union Defence Minister A.K. Antony as early as in June 2007, that T R Baalu had deliberately bypassed the Union Defence Ministry in general and the Naval Head Quarters in particular in obtaining Cabinet clearance for the SSCP. "
4. I was also ' informally ' informed by a coursemate of mine that when he served at the Directorate of Naval Plans (DNP) at Naval Headquarters (NHQ), in the priod 1979-'82, NHQ was against the SSCP on grounds that it impinged on National Security.It is therefore safe to conclude from the foregoing that somewhere in the bowels of South Block,exists a file which goes against the opinion of the Committee.
5. Para 5.6.3: " The presence of Indian Coast Guard Station, Mandapam, Naval Air Station,Ramnad and seven naval detachments along the coast of Tamil Nadu, keep the Palk Bay under surveillance.Coast Guard Station, Tuiticorin covers the Gulf of Mannar. Except the shallow draft vessels of less than 2 Metres and the recently inducted hovercraft of the Indian Coast Guard,none of the vessels can cross over from the Palk Bay to the Gulf of Mannar. With the commissioning of the SSCP, the restriction could be removed bringing in a paradign shift in the security perception and preparedness".
6. Comment: Para 5 is what the instructors at the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington,Tamil Nadu, repeatedly tell the student officers to guard against while writing an 'Appreciation of the Situation'. They tell the students to desist from 'Situating the Appreciation'!! Para 5 is an example of the latter case!! The SSCP must be operationalised.Thus ' the restriction could be removed bringing in a paradigm shift - - -". This is NOT a deduction based on a 'logical analysis' of the factors impinging on such a conclusion.
7. Para 5.6.4 : " - - - -. Unfortunately, the threat by LTTE has been blown beyond proportion. Firstly, the LTTE cannot launch any misadventure against the mighty Indian Navy, secondly, LTTE's naval engagement continues with Sri Lankan military and Navy. Hence, it is highly improbable for LTTE to launch any naval misadventure towards Indian waters or against Indian merchant shipping.
(A). I have analysed the 'threat perceptions' at the SSCP in Part-6 of my analysis of the SSCP. Regrettably, the Report of the Committee is 'silent' on the threats mentioned in my analysis.
(B). In Dec 2006, the Centre for Security Analysis, Chennai(Lt. Gen(retd) V.R.Raghavan), organised a two-days 'International Symposium'. The theme of the Symposium was'Indian Ocean: Martime Security Issues of Relevance to India".The proceedings are being published as a book shortly (publisher - Tata- MacGraw Hill). Security analysts/academia from the U.S.A./Japan/Singapore participated in the deliberations in addition to Indian representation from former, IFS officials/senior naval officers. One of the topics was 'Asymetric Naval Warfare' ie. a conventional naval force like the Indian Navy pitted against 'non-state actors' like a 'terrorist group'. In such a scenario, the 'rules' of the game undergo a paradigm shift, unlike envisged by the Committee of Eminent Persons!! It is exactly on account of this 'asymetry' that enables terrorist groups to strike against conventional forces. The attack on the U.S.S Cole in Aden harbour is a classic example. Nothing prevents the LTTE from doing an encore of the U.S.S Cole in the Palk Bay/Palk Straits/ Gulf of Mannar, should they feel threatened by Indian actions. The fact that they have not attacked Indian naval assets so far is no guarantee that status quo will be maintained.'Asymetric Naval Warfare' is here to stay.There is no getting away from this reality. The Committee is silent on these aspects.
9. Para 5.6.5: The technical adavancement in surveillance and communication sufficiently provides edge to Indian Naval Intelligence System that Sea Tigers cannot match. It is also imperative that the defence agreement between India and Sri Lanka would certainly address the security concerns in Indian waters".
(A)Vice Admiral R.F. Contractor's, Director General, Indian Coast Guard, media statement of 31 Jan 2008, certainly does not reflect the optimism of the Committee's Report.
(B) The Report, makes the mistake of taking a non-state actor, like the LTTE, as a 'conventional force', when the reality is an 'asymetric situation', played under entirely different rules. The element of 'surprise', will invariably be with the non-state actor. 9/11 is a classic example.
11. Para 5.6.6. " Indian Navy's status as a blue water navy with wide ranging military capacity and its ability to command the regional waters stands beyond doubt.After all, Indian Navy is the largest Navy operating in the region, backed by the mighty Indian Coast Guard. It is highly improbable for a small sized sea-tiger could pose a major threat to SSCP. Hence,in an ultimate and final analysis, Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard are quite capable to meet any security challenges in its maritime boundaries".
(A) An exercise in 'situating the Appreciation'.
(B) The Sri Lankan Navy has, in Jan 2008, 'MINED' the approaches to Kachatheevu and Delft Island. The rationale for this course of action is to prevent the Sea Tigers from mounting pre-emptive attacks on Sri Lankan assets. It also proves my analysis that the waters around the SSCP are eminently suitable for 'mine warfare'. Suppose the LTTE were to lay a mine in the SSCP? The Sea Tigers could camaflouge themselves as 'fishermen' and lay a mine in the SSCP. One explosion, or even a report about the mine threat in the SSCP will close the channel for an indefinite duration. Mine Counter Measure (MCM) Operations are extremely 'time consuming'. MCM Operations in the Straits of Hormuz post Iran-Iraq War as also post Operation Desert Storm took greater than 6 months to declare the area ' clear '.
(C) The Committee,it appears, is unaware of the fact that the SSCP lies in 'Brown Waters' ie. shallow waters. Naval Opeartions in 'Brown Waters' take a different contour in comparison to 'Blue Water' operations.
(A) I regret to state that the Report is a 'disappointing' one and does no credit to the nomenclature - 'Eminent Persons Committee'.
(B) The report is TOTALLY SILENT on my analysis PARTS 2 - 5 - namely, the ' Time and Distance Analysis 'of voyages as also the 'Cost Benefit Analysis'of the voyages. This despite the fact the Memeber Secretary of the Committee, held up analysis, after I completed my deposition and asked me if that was my analysis. I replied in the affirmative.
Capt(retd) H.Balakrishnan, I.N.
COMMENTS ON THE REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE OF EMINENT PERSONS ON SETHUSAMUDRAM SHIPPING CHANNEL PROJECT
K.Gopalaklrishnan, S. Badrinarayanan an K> S. Subrmanian
Direcors (Retired), Geological Survey of India
1. We, the three retired Directors fro Geological Survey of India had carried out a detailed Geo-scientific appraisal of the Sethusamadram Shipping Channel Project (SSCP) with special reference to the status of Rama Sethu..
2. In this connection, we prepared two reports entitled – (i). “Geological and Geo-tectonic Setting of the Palk Bat – Gulf of Mannar area between India and Sri Lanka – Their relevance to Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project (22 pages, 24 figures and 1 teble), and (ii) Rama Sethu – Geographical, Geological, Historical and Geo-Archaeological Perspectives (9 pages, 11 figures and 1 table). These reports are prepared with a holistic approach of involving different disciplines and branches of geology (lithology, structure, tectonics, metalligeny etc), and geophysics (gravity, aero-magnetic, marine-magnetic, seismic, geothermal and heat-flow as well as seismological data). The data are derived by surface investigations, drilling, aerial and marine surveys and from remotely sensing
3. These two reports were submitted to the Committee of Eminent Persons (CEP) on SSCP on 24/25 th October, 2007 and requested for personal presentation of the same.
4. On 29th October, 2007, Sri. Gopalakrishnan appeared in person before CEP for personal presentation of the first paper on the geoscientific aspect of the project as a whole. He was denied proper detailed presentation through Power Point Projections. It was stated that the details are available in the report submitted earlier. However, he was asked to provide to the Committee a CD of the Power point projections. The same was handed over to the CEP.
5. On 1st of November, Sri. K.S.Subramanian appeared in person to present details given in the 2nd paper on Rama Sethu. A similar treatment was given to him. He was asked some querries on Ramayana and not on the scientific aspects of Rama’s bridge. As the slides of this paper were also included in the CD submitted earlier, no new CD was given
6. Now, we find in the Volume – 1 of the Report of CEP on SSCP submitted to the Government no reference or discussion on the points raised in our detailed reports,are found.
7. .Only an abstract of a paper by Sri. Badrinarayanan presented in 2007 in a Seminar on Scientific and Security aspects of SSCP was discussed in the report of CEP. The detailed full papers with so many figures and facts are completely ignored by the Committee.
8. In our report – 1, we had raised serious concern over certain specific aspects, which include the following:
9. (i) No detailed “Geo-Technical Evaluation Report” for SSCP has been commissioned from any competent Geo-scientific organization and obtained as a part of pre-project studies. Such a report is a pre-requisite and is “mandatory” for obtaining clearance for any major engineering project in the country. The geo-technical evaluation report should cover the following: (a) study of the geological, structural, and geo-tectonic features including seismo-tectonic signatures as derived from surface, drilling as well as various geophysical inputs. (b) determination of the strength and stability and/or weaknesses of the foundation and other allied structures of the project and (c) rendering geo-technical advice to the project authorities for any remedial measures and treatments to be given to weak planes in the foundation and allied structures as well as to suggest and recommend any change in the alignment and the type of materials to be used for construction etc.
10. No detailed “Geo-environmental Assessment “ has been prepared for SSCP. The geo-environmental assessment report should normally cover the following : (a) Assessing the “Geo-environmental Resource Potential” such as minerals, ground water, natural geological and ge0-morphological features etc. (b) “Geo-environmental Impact Assessment” likely to be caused to the above resources as well as to the environment as a whole, (c) “Geo-environmental management Planning” defining the methodology and remedial measures for reducing the impacts for a sustainable developmental activity.
11. Besides the above, we have indicated the following findings from our studies:
12. Our studies indicate that there are four sets of active deep crustal faults in the project area that are active during the present day, showing vertical as well as lateral movements of blocks.
13. The surface manifestations of the movements have brought in subsidence, submergence and formation of slum structures.
14. These studies also point to the existence of higher heat flow signatures in and around the project area, which are manifested in the form of hot springs on the surface.
15. Buried recent volcanic vents are reported in Gulf of Mannar and off Pondicherry.
16. The geo-physical signatures also indicate that SSCP area is vulnerable to earthquakes.
17. Epicenters of earth tremors of moderate magnitudes (4-7 M) are recorded in the Gulf of Mannar, Palk Bay and off Pondicherry coast.
We have also indicated the relationship between tectonism and tsunami impacts, besides certain Geo-environmental impacts on the project area and its environs.
The most important impact likely to take place will be instability of the SSCP CANALS and CHANNELS by erosion and collapse of canal mouths, collapse of canal walls inducing huge volume of sedimentation and blocking of sea passages as well as causing local tsunamis
We have also given separately suggestions for carrying out detailed and various types of Remote Sensing Studies using satellite imageries of different band widths and wave lengths including ‘Thermal Infra-red imageries”, as well as for different types of modeling studies on various aspects.
We have recommended the Constitution of a multi-disciplinary experts Committee to review all the aspects of SSCP and suggest suitable types of further studies and their quantum.
Regarding our 2nd report, the important question on Rama Sethu / Adam’s Bridge will be – not on the status of RS/AB physical feature, but ‘whether any temporary Cause Way cum Bridge structure supposed to have been built by Rama ever existed over the RS/AB feature and/or any remnant of such structure is existing on it at present.
No detailed study with this objective has so far been carried out.
We have recommended such a Marine Geo-Archaeological Studies on RA/AB feature. This investigation has to be carried out.
1. On page-60 of Vol2, a PPt slide of Sethusamudram Corporation Ltd, under the heading 'Important Investigations and studies carried out,' it is mentioned – 'Geotechnical' as the first one and 'Studies on Impacts and Stability on the coasts of India and Sri Lanka' as the last one. The organization to which this work was entrusted and the date of Repot not mentioned.
2. On pages- 174 to 176, the following reports are mentioned:
(a) EIA for the proposed SSCP (Aug,2004) by NEERI
(b) Final Detailed Project Report (Feb, 2005) by L&T – Ramboll Consulting Engineers Ltd
(c) Marine Geophysical Surveys carried out for the proposed Sethusamudram Navigational Channel (Feb, 2005) by NIOT.
(d) Geological & geotechnical Assessment of the sub-sea strata for the proposed Sethusamudram Navigational Channel. (It is probably for the Project area only, and not for the entire area surrounding it). (April, 2005) by NIOT.
(e) Final Report on conducting Bore-hole Investigations along the SSC alignment at Adam's Bridge by Fugro Geotech Ltd (April, 2007).
(f) MoE&F Environmental Clearance letter dt, 31.03.2005.
(g) Project Rameswaram by GSI – No date. Original date of publication in the News Letter of Marine Wing, GSI is 2003.
(h) Report on the Geological Studies & Sub-surfaca Strata conditions at the site of Sethusamudram Cana in the vicinity of Rameswaram and Dhanushkodi by Dr. S.P.Subramaniam, Dept. of Ocean Enginering, IIT, Madras. No date.
(i) A Report on the feasibility of underwater drilling and controlled blasting at SSCP by Indian Schoolf Mines, Dhanbad. No Date.
(j) Study of Rock mechanics Properties of sandstone samples collected from SSCP. Author / Organisation not mentioned. Letter dt. 30 Aug, 2007.
It can be seen from the above details that there area lot of discrepancies between the subject matter of investigations and the date of submission of reports. The Final Detailed Project Report by L&T – Ramboll Consulting Engineers at colum (b) appears to have been submitted in Feb, 2005 before or without data from some other important reports like those at Sl. No. (c,d and e). Envronmental Clearence letter from MoE&F has been issued on 31.03.2005 without the Geotechnical report from NIOT, which was submitted only in April, 2007.
The report for investigation under Sl. No. (d0 from NIOT is not a full fledged Geotechnical Evaluation Report as would have been given by GSI, which would have covered the entire area surrounding the Project. Rock mechanical studies are integral part of Geotechnical (Engineering Geological) studies., which have been carried out only in Aug, 2007.
It is not clear as to why GSI has not been entrusted with this job, as it is their chartered function and as they were already involved in the studies on Rameswaram island.
It can also be seen that reports under (h, I, and j) are submitted very recently after the project has already been commissioned.
As such, it seems that many of the important studies have been carried out only after approval of project, while some are done after the commencement of the project and many objections were made by various scientists on different aspects. Even now, it is not clear whether these studies are done with a holistic approach to tackle different aspects.
These observations may be brought to the notice of the Court.
Choice of Maximum casualty alignment
Recent mention about tsunami in the Min. of Shipping affidavit submitted to SC is, to put it mildly, a misleading statement.
The eminent jurist Cardozo observed: "What is ab initio illegal cannot be made legal by subsequent discovery".
Tsunami occurred on Dec. 26, 2004. NEERI submitted its final report in August 2004.
There is NO mention whatsoever anywhere in any of the project reports about tsunami.
The issue of tsunami gained urgency only after Dec. 26, 2004 since it occurred in the proposed project area. Prof. Tad S Murthy has again reiterated -- recently, a month ago in Indian Science Congress at Vishakapatnam -- his firm conviction that the proposed channel alignment (Alignment 6) will lead to the destruction of Kerala coast. His earlier views were communicated in March 2005 by PMO who specifically raised the tsunami issue and asked for answers. By end of June, Chairman Tuticorin Port Trust gave a telegraphic, epigraphic, back-of-the envelope answer to PMO not to worry. NO investigation was ordered and no investigation was done about the impact of the tsunami before the project was inaugurated on 2 July 2005.
Since Govt. is referring to post facto tsunami studies, it is relevant to mention the study report published in Nature magazine of 6 Sept. 2007 which has warned a more devastating tsunami because of continuing tectonic activity by the Indian plate thrust into Sunda plate where earthquakes are almost a daily occurrence. If such a tsunami strikes again, the magazine report warns that 6 to 7 crore people will be at risk along the coast from Bangladesh to Kerala. What action does Govt. propose to institute tsunami protection measures (apart from warning systems) as Japan has done with tsunami walls?
Rama Setu was and is a tsunami wall. The proposed channel will NOT act as a tsunami wall. No studies have been, no simulations, no 3-dimensional modeling exercises done to substantiate the statement that the proposed channel will mitigate a future tsunami. This is a gross misleading statement putting the national security and peoples' lives at risk.
Prof. Murty cited the example of Alberni canal and the 1964 Alaska tsunami. This tsunami attained its highest amplitude waves only in the canal and destroyed the Alberni port. So Murty warns that the proposed channel will like a funnel suck in the tsunami energy and destroy the Kerala coast. Last tsunami, Kerala coast was spared because the tsunami waves took a wide arc of over 100 kms. and touched the northern coast of Kerala and Rama Setu acted as a buffer for the waves coming directly and the waves coming around Srilanka through the Gulf of Mannar and reduced the tsunami energy and the southern coast was saved. No such modeling has been done to review with and without channel situation and the sedimentation patterns in this sedimentation sink.
As Dr. Gopalakrishnan, Dr. Badrinarayanan and Dr. Subramanian have pointed out, the project area is geoenvironmentally fragile, geotectonically and geothermally active and activation of fault lines may coincide with a tsunami and create a devastation of unprecedented magnitude. It is the responsibility of the state and the Courts to appoint a real expert commission and review the situation and enforce tsunami protection measures.
The stay should be made permanent and extend to the entire project disaster called Setu mid-ocean Channel project which itself is an unprecedented project. No such mid-ocean has ever been made anywhere in the world.
I pray and hope that good sense will prevail and Govt. will not play with the lives of current and future generations. Remember Upahaar cinema case which held the officials criminally accountable under Section 304 (A) of IPC? Attached is a submission made to Baalu Committee by Ambassador Gupta; a submission which is not reviewed and evaluated by the Committee which has indulged in suggestio falsi and suppressio veri in its dishonest, biased and misleading report.
SETHU SAMUNDRAM SHIP CHANNEL PROJECT
UPA Govt adopts the maximum public casualty alignment!
OP Gupta IFS (1971) (Rtd)
At present, ships between the east coast and the west coast of India have to circumnavigate around SriLanka. The Sethusamundram Ship Channel Project [SSCP] aims at creating a shipping channel between the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Bay by dredging about 83 kilometres (44.9 nautical miles) long, 300 metres wide at the base, and 12 metres deep channel. The Rs 2400 Crore project was sanctioned by the UPA Government on May 19, 2005; and, was inaugurated in indecent haste by Dr Man Mohan Singh, Prime Minister on July 2, 2005 at Madurai.
Basic advantage of this project will be reduction in travel distance of more than 350 nautical miles (650 km) for ships plying between the east and the west coast. Strategic advantage will be that Indian ships will travel within the Indian waters but strategic disadvantage will be that the Palk Bay and the Gulf of Mannar which at present are open only to India and Srilanka will become open for all countries. Further lagrer ships like Very Large Crude Containers (VLCCs) will not be able to use this channel, and; other ships in view of higher pilotage, tug & towing charges by SSCL may prefer to cirumnavigate SriLanka as before.
It is estimated that about 84.5 million cubic metres [mcm] of sand and silts will be dredged under sea from the project area; about 32.5 mcm sand will be dredged in the Ram Sethu area and 52 mcm in the Palk Bay area. Para 6.1 of the Environmental Impact Assessment Report [prepared by NEERI] suggests that dredged sand and spoils will be discharged at Pamban and in the Bay of Bengal but contradicting it, the very next para 6.2 of the same EIA says that dredged material will be not be disposed in the sea.If it is so,the EIA is half baked and should not have been relied upon by the PMO in approving the project.
Debris in large volumes in sea do affect direction and force of undercurrents. Non-finalisation of debris sites is clear indication that final studies of undercurrents could not have been undertaken so how could the government finalise the alignment? It shows that project was finalised based on incomplete and infirm data. It is a fatal flaw.
In her 25thJune 2005 statement, Dr J. Jayalalitha, a former CM, claimed that in March 1998 initial Environmental Impact Study was entrusted to the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Nagpur, which was made available in August 1998 but the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board appointed Expert Committee [Dr M. Ravindran] categorically concluded that the study by NEERI had a number of deficiencies. She further asserted that Union Ministry of Environment and Forests withoutobtaining the statutory 'No Objection Certificate' from the Govt of Tamil Nadu gave environmental clearance to this project. If true, it is another serious flaw.
The project of connecting the Palk Bay and the Gulf of Mannar was probably first conceived in 1860 by Commander Alfred Dundas Taylorof the Indian Marines. The Govt of India appointed the Sethusamudram Project Committee in 1955, headed by Dr. A. R. Mudaliar to examinine the desirability of the project.This Committee recommended that the junction between the two seas should be connected by a canal, and, the idea of cutting a passage through the Ram Sethu [Adam's Bridge] should be abandoned. Since then many committees have looked into this project
It is understood that at least six alternative alignments were suggested, the 1961 alignment , the 1968 alignment, the 1996 alignment, the alignment suggested by the Steering Committee, the 1998 alignment and the present alignment approved by the Man Mohan Singh Govt in May 2005.
As per principles of good governance and obligations flowing from the Indian Penal Code, the Government can choose only that alignment [when more than one alignments are on the table] which will cause the bare minimum loss of public livesin wake of any disaster. The public and Courts will be well within their rights to ask whether the alignment selection in May 2005 was subjected to this test, or, not.
It is understood that some suggested alignments do not involve any cutting across the Ram Sethu structure thus pose no additional threat on account of future tsunamies to residents of the Southern coast. Therefore, it is not understood why ignoring the renewed security concerns of public in wake of the December 26, 2004 tsunami experience, the present alignment was selected which cuts across the Ram Sethu. A gap in the Ram Sethu structure will allow a tsunami in the future to hit the Kerala and Southern Tamil Nadu coasts with its full force inflicting more casualties and more loss of lives than without the gap. The December 2004 tsunami got deflected or moderated by the Ram Sethu working as a natural barrier but still about 25,000 Indians on southern coast lost their lives.Simple common sense indicates that the present alignment will cause much more public casualties in wake of tsunamies.
Concerns have also been raised against the approved alignment by environmentalists, seismologists, oceanographics and the local people.
In 1997 the Union Ministry of Surface Transport appointed the Tuticorin Port Trust as the nodal agency for the SSCP. In 2002, TPT appointed NEERI as consultant for this project and the provisional executive summary of the 'Environmental Impact Assessment [EIA] was submitted by the NEERI to TPT in May 2004. Detailed Project Report [DPR] was submitted before November 30, 2004 by the L&T India. Techno-economic report was submitted by the NEERI by July 2004 based on which this project was approved in May 2005.
It should be noted that NEERI completed all its reports before the December 2004 Tsunami struck the Southern coast. So the project appears to have been cleared by the UPA government without studying the impact of future tsunami on the SSCP and the very stability of 12 metre high underwater walls of the SS channel. This lapse is scandalous as well as criminal.
It should be noted that the tsunami of Dec 2004 has radically altered the bathymetry (sea-depth) of the region. Any responsible government would have got updated these pre-Dec 2004 reports before acting on these so as to keep the number of loss of lives of fellow citizens at the bare minimumin wake of future tsunamis but it seems it was not done reflecting "callous, casual and cavalier" attitude of concerned Union Ministers and civil servants towards lives of fellow citizens attracting various provisions of the Indian Penal Code.
On March 8, 2005, Prime Minister's Office referred 16 objections to the CMD, Tuticorin Port Trust which included security concerns of the world-renowned tsunami expert, Prof. Tad S. Murthy, who was engaged as an expert by the Government of India to set up a tsunami-warning system. Prof. Murthy is firmly of the opinion that this present alignment will destroy Kerala and most of the coastline of southern India. But TPT is reported to have replied to the PMO on 30th June 2005 withoutconsulting experts from NEERI and NIOT on these objections, and, the PMO satisfied with this 'empty ritual' went ahead post haste with inauguration on July 2, 2005. Firstly, the PMO ought to have referred the public objections not to TPT, a commercial entity, but to independent experts for sake of transparency. Secondly, it was irregular and unlawful on part of a commercial entity (TPT) to have replied on technical matters to PMO without consulting its own official consultant, NEERI.
The Hon'ble Supreme Court in the Tehri Dam case [1992 Supp(1) SC Cases 44] has laid down : "The Court can only investigate and adjudicate the question as to whether the Government was conscious to the inherent dangers pointed out by the petitioners and applied its mind to the safety concerns." So, the Courts have jurisdiction as well as public responsibility to 'investigate and adjudicate' whether the UPA Govt had got examined by competent experts in fair, transparent and substantive manner concerns raised by Prof Tad S. Murthy and others about increased danger to the lives of fellow citizens living in the coastal areas by future tsunamis due to breach being made in the Ram Sethu.
The Delhi High Court in the Uphaar Cinema case [104(2003) Delhi Law Times 234(DB)] has also held: "the activity of the enterprise (here TPT and SSCL) must be conducted with the highest standards of safety and if any harm results on account of such activity the enterprise must be absolutely liable to compensate for such harms and it should be no answer for the enterprise to urge that it had taken all reasonable steps." Thus, the Courts have right as well as public duty to inquire & adjudicate whether norms of the 'highest standards of safety' were actually adhered to by the TPT and the Government of India prior to 19th May 2005 in assessing security concerns, or, were these concerns dismissed by 'empty and perfunctory' rituals in casual & cavalier manners by Ministers and officials.
It may be recalled that in the Uphaar Cinema case, the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court have also laid down that a public servant shall be held personally liable for prosecution if he caused injury to public, here to more than bare minimum number of public, by his casual and cavalier functioning, and, that, the traditional alibi of working in 'good faith' or in 'public interest' will no more be available to such 'casual & cavalier' public servants including ministers.
Information available in the public domain clearly suggests that security concerns were dismissed perfunctorily showing "callous, casual and cavalier" attitude of decision makers [Prime Minister, Shipping Minister, Environment Minister, the then Cabinet Secretary, Shipping Secretary and CMD, TPT] who could be personally & individually held responsible for breaching Sec 304(A) etc of IPC for approving an alignment which has potential to endanger lives of more than bare minimum number of people as public servants are facing in the Uphaar Cinema case even after demitting their offices.
On the subject matter of endangering human lives, the Ratanlal Dhirajlal IPC [page 322, 28th Edition Reprint 2001] states that "it is not necessary that rash or negligent act [of approving current alignment] should actually result in injury to life. Offences against public safety are complete [as soon as rash behaviour is established] although the rash or negligent act has not [yet] resulted into any injury." At page 422, it adds " acts probably or possibly involving dangers to others, but which in themselves are not offences, may be offences under ss 336, 337, 338 or 304(A), if done without due care to guard against the dangerous consequences." Charges of criminal negligence would be that PM and his team approved an alignment without due care to guard against the dangerous consequences to lives of lager number of fellow citizens.
If the Palk Bay and the Gulf of Mannar are connected by a deep water channel, more turbulent waters of the Bay of Bengal will freely enter into the Palk Bay and the Gulf of Mannar washing away monazite sands of southern coast into sea, thus, depleting our thorium reserves which is so essential to run our fast breeder reactors.Thus the UPA alignment endangers our 'energy security' in days to come. Better solution is to connect these two seas by a channel with locks which will not allow more turbulent Bay of Bengal waves to freely wash away monazite sands into sea.
It is still not too late to get the alignment reviewed by a multi-disciplinary committee. The best option appears having a canal through Pamban, far away from the Ram Sethu, on the pattern of the Panama Canal with locking system. Rather than dredging into the sea surface let us raise the sea level within a channel by locking system to enable bigger ships pass without circumnavigating around Srilanka. Let the good governance prevail.
[The writer recently retired in the rank of Secretary to the Govt of India in the Indian Foreign Service (1971 batch). He has served as Ambassador to Finland, Estonia, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Republic of Haiti, Tunisia and Tanzania and; as Consul General, Dubai (UAE) and Birmingham (UK).]
The Member Secretary,
Committee of Eminent Persons on Sethusamundram Shipping Channel Project,
The Tamilnadu Dr Ambedkar Law University,
Post Graduate & Research Development Block,
5, Greenways Road,
Chennai, 600028. October 17, 2007.
Sub: Prosecution of civil servants u/s 304(A) IPC for selecting maximum casualty alignment without comparative study of casualties in each of six alignments.
I am not against the SSC project but I am against that alignment which entails making a gap or breach in the Ram Sethu as a gap/hole in Ram Sethu will allow tsunami waves in future to hit beaches of our South India with their full force causing loss of lives of much more number of our fellow citizens. At present Ram Sethu offers a natural barrier, a natural protection to coastal people moderating adverse effects of tsunamis which the present alignment would take away.
From the information available in public domain, it appears that at least six possible alignments were examined. Kindly let me know if the Government of India and its Consultants ever estimated the number of likely casualties in each of the six alignments in wake of tsunami of Dec 2004 magnitude. If so please make me available a copy of this comparative study of tsunami caused public casualty in each route.
In my view the present alignment is the maximum public casualty route attracting penal actions under IPC against 'casual & cavalier' officials.
My guess is that the SSC Project in the present format has been commissioned without study of likely public casualties due to tsunamis which is a punishable offence under section 304(A) of the Indian Penal Code. Officials who approved the present alignment can be personally & individually prosecuted even after retirement. I am enclosing my paper which may be got examined from angle of personal accountability of civil servants involved in selecting the alignment under the IPC. Please acknowledge.
[Indian Foreign Service: 1971] [rtd]
25, Surya Niketan,
CC:  Secretary, Ministry of Shipping & Transport, Government of India, New Delhi
Ab initio illegality of not involving GSI in Setu mid-ocean channel project
Violation of Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage (2001)
http://whc.unesco.org/en/about/ Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (1972)
Not obtaining Pollution control clearance from Tamilnadu State under the Environment Protection Act and EIA regulations.
Not following UN Law of the Sea (1958) conventions for protecting the marine habitats of aquatic resources (flora and fauna).
After going through all the project reports mentioned in the respondent's affidavit and the reports kept at the Project corporation website, it is clear that Geological Survey of India was NOT involved in the project design and environmental monitoring work.
GSI is a world-renowned institution over 150 years old and chartered, mandated to get involved in such functions for development projects in the country and to protect the lives and property of citizens impacted by such projects..
A remarkable document in 20 pages called the Capabilities and Services of Geological Survey of India provides an overview of its charter and responsibilities. This can be downloaded from: http://www.gsi.gov.in/capserv.pdf
An important responsibility mentioned on Page 5 of this document refers to : "GSI effort: application of earth science information right from site selection, planning, through construction and on to post construction management stages of all projects."
In relation to tapping sea-bed resources, a responsibility included is: "Tapping sea bed resources. Steady depletion of onland resources necessitated Sea Bed Survey and off shore Mineral Exploration throughout the world. Law of the sea – concept of Exclusive Economic Zones. India gained Pioneer Investor Status for exploration of deep sea resources. Marine Division upgraded into a separate wing of GSI to meet the challenge. Resource survey in coastal waters and Exclusive Economic Zone with own ship (1986) and two coastal launches acquired in 12963 and 1984 respectively."
On Page 11, the section on Activities and Services lists: "Geological mapping and geotechnical appraisal/solutions from pre-feasibility to post-construction stage Hydroelectric and Irrigation projects…Under the domain of Earthquake hazard GSI is a pioneering institution for carrying out post-earthquake surveys, active fault studies and preparing seismic microzonation maps of urban centres in high hazard/risk areas…"
Rama Setu project area is categorically a high hazard/risk project area.
As stated in Page 13 of the document, Marine wing of GSI has the capabilities and services for "Sea-bottom mapping with geological, geophysical and geochemical components…Investigation for placer minerals in continental shelf. Survey for offshore structures like Single Buoy Mooring systems (SBM), drilling platforms, jetties etc. Survey for development of ports/harbours, laying underwater pipelines, cables etc. Survey for selection of sites for disposal dredge spoils. Survey in the estuary and coastal areas for non-conventional energy resources. Environmental Impact Assessment/Pollution studies and evaluation of environmental hazards in near-coastal domains. Survey for geochemical scan for hydrocarbons. Studies on Marine Archaeology."
On Page 14, it is noted: "GSI is fully equipped with Remote Sensing, Geophysics, Geochemical and Geotechnical laboratories capable of conducting precision analytical work related to Geoenvironmental studies."
It should be noted that for the Setu project, no such Geoenvironmental studies have been conducted using the services of GSI.
Rama Setu project area has geothermal energy potential and is an area for Marine Archaeological investigations under the international obligations of UN conventions to which India is a signatory: UN Law of the Sea, 1958; UNESCO World Heritage Convention; UNESCO Underwater Cultural Heritage Convention.
The chartered function of Geological Survey of India is to participate in developmental projects and to promote/address societal issues to enhance quality of life by using geological knowledge to reduce risk to life and property from geological hazards.
By denying this chartered function by not involving GSI in the mid-ocean Setu channel project an illegality has occurred ab initio. National Institute of Oceanography was also not involved despite the provision contained in Section 5 (1) of The Offshore areas mineral (development and regulation) Act.
GSI has been involved in all major development projects such as Narmada Dam or Nagarjuna Sagar, Tehri dam and such major dam projects.
[Reprinted from the Gazette of India: Extraordinary, No. 146, June 13, 2003(Jyaistha 23,1925), Part-1, Section-1 Pages 1-2]
CHARTER RELATING TO THE FUNCTIONS AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE GEOLOGICAL SURVEY OF INDIA
1. Preparing and updating geological, geophysical and geochemical maps of the country and its offshore area.
2. Exploring and assessing mineral and energy resources of the country and its offshore areas.
3. Systematically exploring the shallow subsurface domain of the country and developing and maintaining national drill core libraries and documentation centers.
4. Conducting research in earth sciences and promoting application of the new knowledge for effecting management of the earth system and its resources.
5. Fostering and promoting the understanding of geological knowledge to reduce risk to life and property from geological hazards and addressing societal issues to enhance quality of life.
6. Creating and maintaining earth science databases and acting as the national repository of earth science data generated by various organizations and disseminating these in public domain for developmental, educational and societal needs.
7. Holding, protecting and maintaining collections of rare and representative geological materials as national geological monuments, museums and parks.
8. Representing India in international bodies, participating in international collaborative scientific projects and developing data sharing net works with other countries.
9. Providing consultancy services and undertaking commercial projects in the country and abroad.
10. Undertaking such other activities, including training, as may become necessary in the light of developments in the field of earth and planetary sciences and related subjects.
The Offshore areas mineral (development and regulation) Act, 2002 (No. 17 of 2003) 30 january 2003
AN ACT to provide for developmenatn dr egulationo f minerarl resourceins the territorial waters, continental shelf, exclusive economic zone and other
Maritime zones of India and to provide for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto
Section 5. (1) No person shall undertake any reconnaissance operation, exploration operation or production operation in the offshore areas, except under and in accordance with the prescribed terms and conditions of a reconnaissance permit, exploration licence or pro lease granted under thIs Act and the rules made thereunder: be under
ProvIded that nothIng m thIs sub-sectIon shall apply to any reconnaIssance operatIon or leaseor exploration operation undertaken by the Geological Survey of India, Atomic Minerals Directorate of Exploration and Research, the Chief Hydrographer to the Government of India of Naval Hydrographic Office of the Indian Navy, the National Institute of Oceanography, the National Institute of Ocean Technology of Department of Ocean Development of the Government of India, or any other agency duly authorised in this behalf by the Central Government..
Note on NIOT: The National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) was established in November 1993 as an autonomous society under the Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India with the support of Indian Institute of Technology, Madras , (IITM) with its Head Quarters inside the IITM Campus. NIOT is managed by a Governing Council and the Director is the head of the Institute. The major aim of starting NIOT under the Ministry of Earth Sciences, is to develop reliable indigenous technology to solve the various engineering problems associated with harvesting of non-living and living resources in the Indian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which is about two-thirds of the land area of India. http://www.niot.res.in/
Geological Survey of India (GSI), established in 1851 is a government organization in India for conducting geological surveys and studies. It is one of the oldest of such organizations in the world.
in 1852, Sir Thomas Oldham mooted the idea of broadening the ambit of the scope of functioning of the Geological Survey of India, and consequently, the activities of the GSI was expanded to cover a broader geological study and studies of the Earth sciences of the territories of the Undivided India.
The Geological Survey of India (GSI), the second oldest survey in the country was established on 4 March, I85l with the singular aim to locate coal for the railways. GSI over the years has expanded its role to undertake elucidation of the geological set up of the country, including assessment and regional level exploration for coal and other mineral resources, inputs to engineering projects, geotechnical studies, geo-environment and natural hazards, glaciology, seismotectonics etc.
GSI is the prime provider of basic earth science information to the government, industry and the general public, as well as responsive participant in international geoscientific fora. The vibrant steel, coal, metals, cement and power industries which expanded phenomenally in the post-independence era, bear eloquent testimony to the GSI's relevance in the national context.
The Charter of functions (revised, June 2003) laid down by the Government of India detailing the scope of activities and responsibilities of the GSI encompasses practically entire gamut of earth science activities. The Charter reflects the broad responsibility of GSI spreading from the lofty peaks of the Himalayas to Antarctica and from the desert to the ocean and in to the sky.
http://www.gsi.gov.in/page2.htm See photo of GSI research ship called Samudra Manthan.
After India attained independence in 1947, Geological Survey of India carried out extensive reconnaissance surveys and mapping to locate structures suitable for exploration of oil and gas.The Oil and Natural Gas Commission was established in 1954 as a department of the Geological Survey of India, but a 1959 act of Parliament made it, in effect, the country's national oil company.
4.14 The Marine Wing of GSI continued its offshore geoscientific survey programme within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Bay of Bengal, Arabian Sea, Andaman Sea and beyond the EEZ in the Indian Ocean. The Marine Wing of GSI has mapped, out of 2.015 million square kilometre area of EEZ of India including territorial water zone, 1.938 million square kilometres. Besides mapping, marine studies included identification and assessment of minerals in off-shore areas apart from successfully carrying out sponsored commercial investigation studies. In the light of extension of the EEZ area, another about 1 million square kilometre area will be added within India's jurisdiction which will be taken up for systematic marine surveys in future. The Marine Wing of GSI continued its offshore geoscientific survey programme within the EEZ of Bay of Bengal, Arabian Sea, Andaman Sea and beyond the EEZ in Indian Ocean. Marine surveys were carried out with a deep sea going research vessel R.V. Samudra Manthan, deployed beyond territorial waters and two coastal research vessels viz. R.V. Samudra Kaustubh and R.V. Samudra Saudhikama, deployed within the territorial waters along east and west coasts respectively. The nearshore zones (0-10m depth) were surveyed by deploying small hired mechanised boats utilising portable echosounder.
4.15 About 8565 lkm bathymetric and 4938 lkm magnetic surveys were carried out along with collection of 798 samples in six cruises of R.V. Samudra Manthan. The surveys included geo-chemical scan for hydrocarbons in the Arabian Sea in collaboration with K D Malviya Institute of Petroleum Exploration, Oil and natural gas Commission (ONGC), two cruises on gas hydrates with ONGC, one cruise for micro-manganese nodules around Lakshadweep, parametric survey for ocean thermal energy currents and late Quaternary chronostratigraphy of the seabed of Bay of Bengal, west of Andaman and Nicobar Islands alongwith geochemical scan for hydrocarbons. One joint cruise of R.V. Samudra Manthan and R.V. Samudra Shaudhikama was taken up in Arabian Sea under 'preparation of special chart' programme. One special short cruise was taken up in and around Barren Island with a view to collect specific samples and measure water temperature surrounding the island.
http://mines.nic.in/an2002.htm (Govt. of India, Dept. of Mines, Annual report 2001-02)
GSI is one of the premier organisations of earth science survey and research in the world, having more than 155 years of experience - the principal provider of geoscientific information and services to the government, industry and public. http://www.portal.gsi.gov.in/portal/page?_pageid=108,527434&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL
The charter of GSI, the 150-year-old organization was codified and approved by the Parliament in 1973.
PIB Press release, 29 April 2005
GEOLOGICAL SURVEY OF INDIA : MAPPING THE EARTH
The Geological Survey of India (GSI) a premier scientific organization was established in the year 1851 with a view to assist the Indian Railways in exploring coal mines to meet its fuel requirements. Since then GSI has traversed through 153 years of its existence. It has expanded from merely providing the primary geo-scientific information to expose mineral fuels and water resources, in managing natural resources and spearheading the cause of the environment protection.
Now a subordinate organization of the Union Ministry of Mines, the GSI has its headquarters in Kolkata, with Six regions and three specialized Wings and a Training Institute at Hyderabad . The six regions are: Northern Region (Head office at Lucknow), Western Region (Jaipur), Eastern Region ( Kolkata), North -East Region (Shillong), Central Region (Nagpur) and Southern Region (Hyderabad).
The GSI boasts of a vast pool of experienced scientists along with a potent technical manpower at her service that has successfully created a reliable repository of earth science data base that has invaluably contributed in developing infrastructure and industries in India. The GSI's activities extend from the Northern Himalayan borders to the icy continent of Antarctica beyond the Indian Ocean; from the desert to the offshore region and even to the sky. In fact it is the GSI, which has taken the systematic geological mapping of this region for the first time and since then has been continuously refining it to suit the demands of the evolving technology and needs.
The GSI prepares and updates the geological, geophysical and geo-chemical maps of the country together with its offshore areas. It explores and assesses the mineral and energy resources of the country and her offshore areas. It also systematically explores the shallow subsurface domain of the country, develops, maintains the national drill core libraries and documentation centers. It conducts research in earth sciences for effective management of the earth system and its resources. With understanding of the geological knowledge the GSI reduces risk to life and property from geological hazards and addresses the societal issues to enhance the quality of life. It acts as the national repository of earth science data generated by various organizations and disseminates the same for development of educational and societal needs. The GSI holds, protects and maintains collections of rare and representative geological material as national geological monuments, museums and parks.
Monitoring Nature's Fury
The GSI made a landmark achievement in 2004 having been declared as the "nodal agency" on landslide studies by the Ministry of Home Affairs. The timely recommendation of GSI for immediate vacation of population made from the study of Varunavat Parbat Landslide at Uttarkashi (Uttaranchal) saved the lives of local residents. GSI scientists' active participation in the monitoring of the Parechu Lake created as a result of landslides forewarned against the possible damages likely to be caused by the lake.
The year 2004 saw GSI take up 25 geo-environmental investigations comprising geo-environmental appraisal, geo-environmental impact assessment and studies on natural hazards along with geomorphic processes covering public health and landslide issues in addition to 12 items of Syn-Exploration Baseline Data Generation. Further GSI undertook study of Fluorosis endemicity in parts of Jhansi and Sonbhadra districts of Uttar Pradesh and assessed Arsenic incidence in the Bhojpur district of Bihar. Detailed glaciological studies on Hamta Glacier in Lahaul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh have been carried out to moniter the maximum and minimum ablation. Glacier inventory of Thatte, Saltoro , Sumdo, Fasten Nubra and Rangdo basins of Ladakh district of Jammu and Kashmir have identified 108 glaciers in Saltoro basin,366 glaciers in Sumdo basin and 82 glaciers in Fasten basin. It found that the total glacierised areas are 40.5 per cent in Saltoro , 14.02 per cent in Fasten and 6.89 per cent in Sumdo basins.
GSI succeeded in updating the All India Earthquake Database up to the year 2001 incorporating 1,347 events . A total of 17,483 events have been registered so far in the database. Other than this, 43 items of Geo-technical and engineering geological projects were undertaken for water resource management /development/ creation of communication network, transport and other infrastructure facilities. The year 2004 also saw GSI sign a MoU with IMD for integration of seismological observatories in India under national seismological network and collaboration in the field of seismology and earthquake geology.It also carried out seismic microzonation studies in Siliguri (West Bengal), Ahmedabad (Gujarat), Mumbai area (Maharashtra) and in Dehradun urban complex (Uttaranchal) and Vezag (Andhra Pradesh).
The GSI has made forays at international level. It has undertaken geological investigation in mining areas along Indo-Bhutan border to assess the quality of water system in Dolomite mining area and adjoining tea gardens of North Bengal. In the year 2002, GSI successfully organized the 4th South Asia Geological Congress in New Delhi.
Tsunami Under Watch
The teams of GSI scientists had recently conducted multifarious geo-scientific studies on the aftermath of the devastating earthquake and Tsunami of 26 December 2004 and carried out detailed studies in the Andaman Group of islands. The GSI recorded nearly 6,500 aftershocks, which show a trend of continuous release of stress energy. Other teams of Geoscientists carried out studies on the effects of Tsunami on costal tract of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. They studied submarine geo-morphological changes in the sea around Andaman Nicobar islands. GSI attended an international conference on Tsunami at Phuket (Thailand) held from 28-31 January,2005. The Geological Survey of Japan has approached GSI for a collaborative project to study the details of Tsunami in Andaman and Nicobar islands.
GSI cannot rest on its laurels. It has already set goals for the coming years. In the field of Specialized Thematic Mapping, GSI has selected 0.25 millions sq. km (6.7 per cent of the country), for mapping which comprises regions in high priority geologically significant belts. The Geo-chemical survey is to prepare a first level regional geo-chemical map of the entire country. This will serve to prognosticate the latent mineral deposits and also help in assessing soil fertility and bring into light human and animal health hazards. GSI would also target search areas for detailed exploration and define areas susceptible to environmental degradation. It will carry out low altitude aero-geophysical data and also integrate multidisciplinary data for generation of mineral favourability map. GSI would complete systematic mapping of the seabed within territorial waters by 2015. With the availability of a new blue water research vessel in place of the old Samudra Manthan, mapping of the seabed and evaluation of mineral resources would be extended to Legal Continental Shelf area.
The activities to establish GSI as the temple of excellence are ever expanding. GSI is eager to contribute its mite in the development of the nation by providing invaluable data in numerous earth science fields. Thus GSI is instrumental in sustaining life-support system for over 16 per cent of global population in a meager 2.4 per cent of the world's land area. The GSI is relentlessly pursuing its objectives to cater to the requirement of minerals and raw materials for industrial growth apart from ensuring a safe community life to the citizens free from the vagaries of natural hazards.
*Information Officer, PIB, Dehradun
Geological Survey of India releases seabed map in Hindi
30 Sep 2003, 2004 hrs IST,TNN
KOLKATA: The marine wing of the Geological Survey of India (GSI) on Monday, released a surface sedimentation map of the seabed within India's exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The map, for the first time, has been compiled in Hindi.
The updated map, with data collected and compiled till 2002, will help in ascertaining mineral deposits in the EEZ, inclusive of the areas around Andaman-Nicobar and Lakshwadeep-Minicoy group of islands.
"The map has been digitally compiled at the Digital Map Processing Laboratory, Marine Wing, GSI. The updated database has prompted the Centre to enact the Offshore Mineral Development and Regulations Act, 2003 with the ministry of mines as the nodal agency," said P C Srivastava, deputy director general, GSI Marine Wing.
A similar surface sedimentation map in English was released in 1993. However, Srivastava admits that the previous map was incomplete.
"We received an ocean-going research vessel Samudra Manthan in 1983 and two coastal research launches in 1984. We made full use of these while compiling data for 2002. About 97 per cent of the Indian EEZ has been surveyed. The major finds are the lime mud occurences in off-shore Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh and carbonate sands in banks of the Lakshaadweep Sea," Srivastava said.
As part of its Hindi fortnight celebrations, the GSI also released Samudrika, a technical journal in Hindi. A compilation of technical papers on the oceans, submitted over the last decade was also released at the occasion.