Saturday, June 14, 2008

Hon’ble PM, now scrap Setu Project for ever. Setusamudram hey kaarasthaan.

Hon’ble PM, now scrap Setu Project for ever

-- Declare Rama Setu sacred monument, Rameshwaram divya kshetram
-- Setusamudram hey kaarasthaan (Meaning: Setusamudram is a conspiratorial place). Dredging contractors’ delight.

Mr. A. Subbiah, Dy Chairman, Tuticorin Port Trust (TPT), has announced that a project is being studied to prepare a ‘Detailed Project Report’ for the establishment of a ‘backbone freight corridor’ through rail, from Erode to Nagpur with the assistance of Rail India Technical and Economic Services (RITES) Limited, a Government of India enterprise. While this is a welcome development as an alternative to Setu channel project, Govt. of India should forthwith recognize it as such and make an announcement that the Setu Channel Project has been scrapped for ever.

This is comparable to the decision of the British colonial regime to go for a rail corridor between Kolkata and Mumbai instead of attempting a costly enterprise of building a channel or canal through Setusamudram (an attempt at dredging which was tried and given up in 1838 because of exhorbitant costs involved).

Unfortunately, another extraordinary decision announced in such apparent haste – that is, to dredge the inner harbour of TPT to a depth of 12.8 m. Why does the Govt. of India want to continue piling up illegalities in the kaarasthaan of Setusamudram?

Swamy attacks Centre for failing to curb inflation

Chennai, June 14: Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy on Saturday alleged that the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs' (CCEA) approval for deepening the channel and basin at Tuticorin port at a cost of Rs 538 crore was "unnecessary as the whole project was mooted just to compensate commission agents, who would be affected if the Sethusamudram Shipping Channel Project (SSCP) was shelved".

Swamy also said he was in favour of setting up a separate railway corridor for faster container movement from Tuticorin port than the SSCP.

Bureau Report
It turns out that the proposed dredged depth beyond 10.7 m in TPT inner harbour would involve blasting of hard rock and also dredging upto 15 m. depth in the outer harbour (costs of which have been hidden). Such blasting will be illegal since the Van Teevu (one of the 24 islands declared by UNESCO as Marine Bio-reserve of South Asia) would be destroyed with devastating effects on the fragile eco-sphere. See the detailed article by V. Sundaram in NewsToday of 14 June 2008 (appended).
If this depth was necessitated by the dredging of a Setu channel to a depth of 12 m., the costs related to dredging in Tuticorin harbour should ALSO have become a part of the Setusamudram shipping channel cost. Is this a way to understate the channel cost (just as the social cost, security costs, were excluded and maintenance dredging costs were understated), apart from NOT bringing out all the components of a channel project in one Detailed Project Report (DPR)? It turns out that the actual dredging depth achieved in Palk Straits has only been 10.73 m. even though the DPR called for 12 m. draft for the channel.
Here is the update in the Project Status provided in the Setusamudram Corpn. website based on an announcement made by Suresh, Chairman, Chennai Port who is looking after the Tuticorin Port/Sethusamudram Corpn also on 10 April 2008:

Maritime London in association with the Institute of Chartered Ship Brokers (Madras Branch) organized a seminar at Chennai on 14.04.2008 on the topic "Realizing Maritime India's Growth Potential". During the course of interaction with the press after the Seminar, Shri K. Suresh, I.A.S., Chairman, Chennai port Trust who is also holding additional charge as Chairman Cum Managing Director, Sethusamudram Corporation Limited spoke at length on the project. He explained that the Sethu Project which would provide a direct link between the east and west coast of the country without circumnavigating Srilanka envisages a channel of 300 M width and 12 M depth for a total length of 167 km comprising three segments.
• Initial portion in the Palk Bay of length 54 km in which dredging was in progress.
• A further length of 78 km where dredging was not required due to available depths in excess of 12 M.
• Adam's Bridge portion of length 35 KM where dredging had been suspended since September 2007 due to the injunction of the Supreme Court.
Regarding the dredging operations in Palk Bay stretch, he mentioned that DCI engaged a survey launch m.v. TAURUS of M/s. Geo Star Surveys India Pvt. Ltd., Mumbai, for conducting a seabed survey from 04.04.08 to ascertain the depth of the channel in this 54 km stretch where at present six Trailing Suction Hopper Dredgers are at work viz.
The initial report for the stretch of 54 km above that as against the planned channel depth of – 12 mtrs Chart Datum and 300 m width, the depths are varying from – 10 mtrs to – 11 mtrs with an average of 10.73 mtrs for the initial 18 kms stretch. For the remaining 36 km of Palk Bay portion the depth varies from – 10.75 mtrs to – 11.30 mtrs from Chart Datum. This indicates that the dredging has been successfully carried out by DCI and the percentage in respect of depth achieved averages around 93%. Hence it will be possible for a vessel with 10M draft requirement to navigate from Chennai upto the coast of Rameswaram.
Tuticorin port plans Rs 5,200-cr expansion

T E Narasimhan / Chennai June 9, 2008, 5:33 IST
Tuticorin Port Trust (TPT) is planning to invest Rs 5,200 crore to create additional capacity and infrastructure. The port had recently received in-principle approval from the Centre for two major projects involving the inner harbour and outer harbour. The projects, which will be executed through the public-private partnership (PPP) mode, are expected to be completed by 2012.
According to a senior TPT official, Rs 4,350 crore would be spent on the outer harbour development project, which would include two or three container terminals, one oil terminal, two coal terminal and a general cargo terminal. This part of the project would be executed in the PPP mode.
The inner harbour project, which will cost Rs 936 crore, will involve building of a coal berth and a general berth, and deepening of the draft from 10.7 metres to 12.8 metres to allow higher-capacity ships at the east cost port in Tamil Nadu.
With this expansion in place, the capacity of the port would double from the existing 20.55 million tonne to 40.60 million tonne of cargo, the official said.
Of the total investment in the inner harbour, a major portion will be towards dredging, which is estimated to cost Rs 538 crore. Of this, Rs 350 crore will be funded by the port through its internal fund and the Centre will bear the balance. Dredging work is likely to be completed in 18 months, the official said.
Once dredging is completed, the port will be able to handle fourth generation container vessels with a capacity of 3,000 twenty equivalent units (TEUs) to 4,000 TEUs. Currently, the port can handle container vessels up to 2,000 TEUs capacity.
The port will also be able to accommodate vessels with a capacity of 70,000 DWT (dead weight tonne) from the current 50,000 DWT. The increase in capacity will also reduce per tonne cost by 10-15 per cent for a shipper, the official said.
The expansion project would create an additional capacity of 40 million tonnes by the end of 2012 and an additional four million tonnes would be added by 2017.
Though the current outlay for this project was estimated at Rs 4,350 crore, it might increase to Rs 6,000 crore, if it was delayed by four to five years, the official said.
Tuticorin Port handled 21.48 million tonnes of cargo during 2006-07, registering 14 per cent growth over 2005-06 when the port handled 18.70 million tonnes. While the traffic volume for 2007-08 is yet to be tabulated, the target for 2008-09 is set at 24.06 million tonnes.
CCEA approves deepening channel and basin at Tuticorin Port
5 Jun, 2008, 1622 hrs IST, AGENCIES (Economic Times)
NEW DELHI: The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has given its approval for deepening the channel and basin to cater to 12.80 m draught vessels at Tuticorin Port.
The approval includes dredging the channel to a depth of upto (-) 14.70 m below chart datum and to a width of 230 m and to a length of 3.40 km from the Port entrance.

It also includes dredging a part of the existing Harbour Basin area including the turning circle to a depth upto (-) 14.10 m below chart datum. The estimated cost of the project is Rs.538.00 crore of which Rs.349.70 crore (65 per cent) is to be borne by Tuticorin Port Trust either from its internal resources or borrowings and Rs.188.30 crores (35 per cent) will be given by GOI as grant.

With the implementation of this project, Tuticorin Port will be able to handle main line - fourth generation container vessels of 56000 DWT (3000-4000 TEU's) with LOA of 290 m; beam of 32.50m, bulk carrier upto 75000 DWT with maximum draught of 12.80 m, reduce the sea freight for bulk cargo and boost the EXIM Trade to save time and Transhipment cost of vessels.

Date:12/06/2008 URL:
MoU for faster container movement
R. Vimal Kumar

TUTICORIN: The Tuticorin Port Trust (TPT) plans to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Container Corporation of India (CCI) shortly to facilitate faster container movement between port and Bangalore by rail, according to A Subbiah, Deputy Chairman, TPT.

Speaking to The Hindu, he said that as part of the project, the port would provide two acres of land within the port estate to CCI for stacking inbound and outbound containers, whenever required. The yard would then be developed by CCI with state-of-the-art facilities to provide efficient and reliable multi-modal logistical support to port users. “We have suggested a weekly train service initially under the scheme, which is expected to boost the exim trade substantially,” he added. For easy loading of containers, TPT would provide a railway siding up to Berths 7 and 8 from the Harbour Terminus.

Mr. Subbiah said that the port administration planned to prepare a ‘Detailed Project Report’ for the establishment of a ‘backbone freight corridor’ through rail, from Erode to Nagpur, as planned in the business plan (2007-08 to 2011-2012) of TPT, with the assistance of Rail India Technical and Economic Services (RITES) Limited, a Government of India enterprise, very soon.

Dastardly dredging for `Gold' forever and ever

Sat, 14 Jun, 2008 , 08:20 PM (NewsToday)
No mask like open truth to cover lies
Just to go naked is the best disguise'

On the eve of Indian independence, Winston Churchill thundered in the House of Commons: `Liberty is man's birthright. However to give the reins of government to the Congress at this juncture is to hand over the destiny of hungry millions into the hands of rascals, rogues, and freebooters. Not a bottle of water or a loaf of bread shall escape taxation. Only the air will be free and the blood of the hungry millions will be on the head of Atlee (the then Prime Minister of UK). India will be lost in the political squabbles'. The final stage of this tragic drama was enacted at a Cabinet Meeting in New Delhi on June 5, 2008, when the most corrupt, inefficient, inept, immoral and impotent UPA Government, under a surrogate jubilantly `participating' de jure Prime Minister, gave a final clearance for the spending of Rs.5286 crores for the Tuticorin Harbour Development Project over a period of four years from 2008 to 2012. In short, the Union Cabinet gave a cubic content to the corrupt, behind the curtain, political mandates of a de facto super-Prime Minister—a Catholic woman imposter from distant Italy who is under the illusion that she is the Hitler/Stalin of India today!

When the Supreme Court has imposed a judicial ban on further expenditure on the SSCP, the anti-people and criminal UPA Government has announced a consolation prize for the politically corrupt trio of Sonia Gandhi, Karunanidhi and T R Baalu. By presiding over a Cabinet meeting on June 5, 2008 and according sanction for Rs.5286 crores, the Prime Minister has also willingly participated in this game of corruption. Out of this total amount of Rs. 5286 crores, Rs.4350 crores have been allocated for the Tuticorin Outer Harbour Development Project which will include two or three container terminals, two coal terminals and one general cargo terminal. In addition, an amount of Rs.936 crores has been sanctioned for the Tuticorin Inner Harbour Development Project. The inner harbor project, will involve building of a coal berth and a general berth and deepening of the draft from 10.7m to 12.8m to allow higher capacity ships to operate in Tuticorin Port. Out of a total allocation of Rs.538 crores proposed for dredging, Tuticorin Port Trust will fund Rs.350 crores and the Centre will be meeting the balance cost. The dredging work is expected to be completed in 18 months. All the other major works are expected to be completed by 2012.

Extensive and intensive Bathymetry and geo-environmental/oceanographic studies that have been done so far to determine the nature of the seabed and ocean currents in Tuticorin harbour show that the surface is granite rock below 10.7m to indefinite levels. T R Baalu's game is to start the dredging work by letting loose his favorite contractor and then he would give him the freedom to come back to the Government stating that the surface below 10.8m is very rocky and therefore it is going to cost twice the estimated amount or even more. Then, as a part and parcel of a pre-meditated programme, the Government of India would appoint an Arbitrator to settle the dispute and care will be taken to see that the Arbitration Committee gets loaded with committed `chamchas' of Sonia Gandhi, Karunanidhi and T R Baalu. Thus I view the recent Cabinet decision of the Government of India as a subterfuge relating to a massive Corruption Operation in order to politically compensate the DMK Party on the eve of Parliamentary Elections in 2009. The whole thing has been politically masterminded by Sonia Gandhi who has a political infatuation for the DMK Party in Tamil Nadu. As the Supreme Court has imposed an injunction on SSCP, it has become absolutely unavoidable for the shaky UPA Government to give an alternative viable compensation package to the DMK!

Marine Experts have said that in order to obtain a Draft Level of 12.8 m inside the harbour, it is necessary to achieve a level of at least 15m outside the harbour in the Approach Channel. This will push up the cost to four to five times the current estimated amount. If the outer channel is not dredged to this level of 15m, it will be infructuous to incur an expenditure of Rs.538 Crores on dredging inside the harbour.
Massive kickbacks have already been collected in advance from a Belgium Dredging Company under SSCP. The dredgers, which have already arrived for the temporarily stalled SSCP, are going to be diverted for the proposed Tuticorin Port Dredging work. Thus this allocation of Rs.538 crores can be viewed as a political `mobilization advance' for the new Tuticorin Project. This will inaugurate a new stream of vicious cycle of planned kickbacks (I mean for the Congress-DMK!) for the next four years!
Dredging in Tuticorin Port cannot be viewed as a separate entity, apart from the SSCP. Dredging must be viewed as an integrated operation on the east coast and not viewed as a hotchpotch operation of fragmented entities, relevant only for setting in motion a `malignant system of integrated and continuous kickbacks' for the criminal duo already referred to above.

When the whole matter relating to SSCP is subjudice, government of India is committing contempt of Supreme Court by treating one portion of the dredging work in Tuticorin Port Area as a distinct entity, quite apart from the SSCP. In short, the Cabinet sanction of total expenditure of Rs.5286 crores for the Tuticorin Harbour Project, can be viewed as a wicked subterranean operation, designed only to bypass the injunction Orders of the Supreme Court in regard to SSCP.

Dr. Subramanian Swamy has sought the permission of Dr. Man Mohan Singh, our Prime Minister, for the prosecution of T R Baalu, Union Shipping Minister, under the Prevention of Corruption Act. He has detailed all the acts of massive corruption of T R Baalu. By deliberately delaying the sanction of prosecution of T R Baalu, our Prime Minister has given the clear political signal that he is an unchallenged champion, if not promoter, of Sonia-directed Himalayan corruption in India. This general public view has been further cemented by his hasty and hurried decision to give a clearance for a massive allocation of Rs. 5286 crores to the Union Shipping Ministry and T R Baalu for carrying out new projects in Tuticorin Harbour. What is significant to note is that on the 5th of June 2008 there was only one subject earmarked for discussion and decision and that was in regard to this proposal relating to the Tuticorin Harbour Project. Indeed, it was an extraordinary Cabinet Meeting meant for finalizing an extraordinarily corrupt project, in order to extend extraordinary political support (through an extraordinarily corrupt Union Cabinet Minister) to a political party in Tamil Nadu, with an extraordinary track record of national and international
corruption. In this extraordinary context, the extraordinarily brilliant maxim of La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) becomes relevant here: `We are never so easily deceived as when we imagine we are deceiving others'. My repetitive and alliterative use of the term `extraordinary' may sound bizarre; yet I wish to declare that it emanates from and is rooted in extra sensitive good faith.

(The writer is a retired IAS officer)e-mail the writer at

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