Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Rama Setu: Who runs Union of India? Nariman? Who approved the false affidavit submitted to SC?

Rama Setu: Who runs Union of India? Nariman? Who approved the false affidavit submitted to SC?

This is yet another instance of the scandalous state of the union of India led by UPA government. Did Hon’ble PM approve the affidavit? How come the Congresss claims that they were not aware of the claims mad in the affidavit? Who is in charge? Nariman? Given the state of deterioration in ethical values in the government functionaries, this report is not a surprise. The people of the nation will decide when the date of reckoning comes. I think SC should take exception to the way the Court is being treated – in utter contempt -- in responding to cases in the highest court of the land.

Kalyanaraman

Congress in the dark on latest Ram Sethu affidavit in court

The submission filed in the apex court states, among other things, that Ram himself destroyed the Ram Sethu

K.P. Narayana Kumar and Malathi Nayak -- Livemint.com Oct. 21, 2008

New Delhi: The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance, or UPA, has again been blindsided, with the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) representative in the Union cabinet, T.R. Baalu, failing to inform either the Union cabinet or the coordinator for the legal defence of the government in the controversial Sethusamudram project, prior to filing a crucial affidavit in the Supreme Court.

The submission, among other things, states that the Ram Sethu was destroyed by Ram himself, and that it was not proved by the petitioners that the structure was integral to Hinduism.

Controversial topic: A Nasa photo of the Ram Sethu. Many Hindus believe the god-king, Ram, built this bridge to rescue his wife, Sita, from the clutches of demon-king Ravana. Others say it is a coral walkway.

It is a politically explosive argument with elections for six states in the next three months announced, including in four north Indian states where the Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, has significant strength. The BJP has consistently opposed the project, using it to score political points.

The filing, while in line with the DMK’s own position on the issue, could quickly emerge as a political problem for the Congress party, which is already being subjected to the charge that it is soft on minorities at the expense of India’s Hindu majority.

The Sethusamudram project began in 2004 and proposed to create a shipping channel by dredging a walkway connecting India and Sri Lanka. Many Hindus believe the god-king, Ram, built this bridge with an army of monkeys to rescue his wife, Sita, from the clutches of demon-king Ravana. Others say it is a coral walkway.

A senior minister in the UPA government, who was tasked with coordinating the legal challenge on the channel project but didn’t want to be named, concedes: “I do not know how or why that submission was filed before the court. I am yet to see the document. This was not discussed during cabinet meetings either.”

When the case proceedings ended on 30 July, the court, while reserving judgment, had asked the parties to submit written arguments, including new contentions.

The written document submitted by the government on 14 October is dubbed a “Brief written Note by Counsel for the Union of India submitted after the close of oral arguments on 30 July 2008”. It has excerpts from religious texts including the Kamba Ramayanam and Padma Purana.

The document states that “it has not been proved (by the petitioners) undoubtedly to the belief of the Hindu community—that Lord did not himself break the bridge”. Quoting the religious texts, it argued that the “petitioners have not alleged much less proved that Rama Sethu forms an integral part of the Hindu religion”.

Moreover, it describes the petitions as “politically motivated” and goes on to say that the pleas of the petitioners smack of “a lack of bona fide”.

An officer in the culture ministry, who is in charge of the department that deals with the channel project, also said they weren’t consulted nor were they informed after the submission by the shipping and road transport ministry.

“I read about the submission in the next day’s papers. We were not informed,” said this officer who, too, didn’t want to be named.

Another senior official, who is in the shipping and road transport ministry and similarly didn’t want his name used, said “the minister has been directly dealing with the matter himself”, indicating that even relevant ministry officials were not briefed about the filing of the submission.

Calls to Baalu’s office weren’t returned. Fali S. Nariman, the government counsel on the case, too, was unavailable for comment. Additional solicitor general R. Mohan, who was handling the shipping ministry’s brief, declined to comment.

Commentator Cho Ramaswamy says Baalu and Tamil Nadu chief minister M. Karunandhi’s family are very keen on the Sethusamudram project proceeding. “However, this (the Sethusamudram controversy) is not an issue that will benefit any political party when it comes to the elections,” he added.

DMK spokesperson Ilangovan, who uses only one name, said: “We will invoke Sethusamudram during the polls to highlight how the BJP has deprived the benefits of such a good project to Tamil Nadu.” He refused to comment further.

On his part, Arun Kumar, a Congress party secretary who is in charge of the Tamil Nadu unit, said he will study the affidavit in detail before reacting to it.

BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar said: “The government is not only indulging in interpreting religion but is also giving a new twist to Ram katha itself. In the first affidavit, the government said there is no proof of Ram’s existence. Then there was widespread anger and it withdrew the affidavit. In the next one, it said it was a matter of faith and was up to the court to decide. Now they are saying that Ram himself destroyed the Ram Sethu, which means they are admitting that Ram existed.”

The government on 30 July told the court it would set up a committee headed by R.K. Pachauri, director general of The Energy and Resourses Institute, to look at an alternative route for the project, one that possibly doesn’t cut across the Ram Sethu. The committee was meant to examine alternative routes and submit a report before the court. The report is yet to be submitted.

Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy, the chief petitioner in the case related to the Sethusamudram project, moved the Supreme Court on Thursday challenging the submissions made by the Centre. The court has permitted him to file submissions to rebut the Centre’s new arguments.

“The Centre has made some new points almost two and a half months after the court reserved its judgement,” said Swamy. “It is quite clear that the written submissions were filed primarily to intimidate and influence the Pachauri committee which consists of government officials.”

narayana.k@livemint.com
Krisnamurthy Ramasubbu and Liz Mathew contributed to this story.

http://www.livemint.com/Articles/PrintArticle.aspx

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Centre has allready admitted Ramar Sethu is sacred: Swamy

Centre has already admitted Ramar Sethu is sacred: Swamy

Legal Correspondent (The Hindu, 17 Oct. 2008)

“This demolishes counsel’s averment that it is not an integral part of religion”

“Ridge like structure of Ramar Sethu is such that no dredging will be possible”
Damaging any sacred place is a cognisable criminal offence

New Delhi: Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy on Thursday questioned the Centre’s stand in the Supreme Court that Ramar Sethu was not an integral part of Hindu religion and that it was not an article of faith.

In his written submissions, he said the Centre was giving dubious interpretations to the facts admitted earlier. He said the sacredness and worship of Ramar Sethu had already been admitted by the Centre and judicially noticed by the Madras High Court, and that Sethusamudram Shipping Channel Project Ltd was contemplating providing a viewing gallery, along the channel alignment, for pilgrims to visit Adam’s Bridge (Ramar Sethu).

“This admission demolishes the stand of the Centre’s counsel, especially the averment that Ramar Sethu is not integral part of Hindu religion.”

On Thursday morning, Dr. Swamy made a mention before a Bench, headed by Chief Justice K. G. Balakrishnan, that the Centre’s stand was contrary to its submissions made in the court. However, Justice Balakrishnan asked him to file written submissions.

Dr. Swamy maintained that the administrative decision-making process in choosing Alignment 6, if implemented, “is illegal arbitrary, unreasonable, disproportionate, and is also vitiated by bias, conflict of interest, and fraudulent statistical data. The decision to pursue Alignment 6 calling for a rupture in Ramar Sethu be judicially invalidated. An alternative alignment or an alternative project if proposed and which does not call for damaging or destroying Ramar Sethu is, however, acceptable.”

‘No metaphysical jurisdiction’

He said “Ramar Sethu is built on a sharply rising ridge formation and it cannot be dredged through. It can only be exploded. That is, the ridge like structure of Ramar Sethu is such that no dredging is possible.” The sacredness of Ramar Sethu and the relevance in administrative decisions of respecting faith were subjective over which no court could have a metaphysical jurisdiction.

Dr. Swamy asserted: “It is a cognisable criminal offence under Section 295 of the IPC, viz. any damage, defilement, or destruction of any place of worship or of any object held sacred by any class of persons; with the knowledge that such class of persons is likely to consider such damage, defilement, or destruction as an insult to their religion.”

He said: “Thus, implementing the project would be prima facie a cognisable offence, and therefore its commission cannot be permitted or sanctioned.”

He reiterated that Ramar Sethu should be declared a national monument.

http://www.hindu.com/2008/10/17/stories/2008101755581400.htm

Setu row: Centre accused of giving dubious interpretation in SC

Setu row: Centre accused of giving dubious interpretation in SC

New Delhi, Oct 16 (PTI) Provoked by the government's stand that Rama Setu is not an "essential" and "integral" part of Hindu religion, Janata Party President Subramaniam Swamy today rushed to the Supreme Court accusing it of giving "dubious" interpretations to the facts admitted earlier.

He told the apex court that when the matter had come before the Madras High Court the Centre had admitted the sacredness of Rama Setu or Adams bridge and even contemplated building a viewing gallery along the Sethusamudram channel alignment and thus demolishes its fresh contention.

"Moreover, sacredness and worshipping of the Rama Setu has already been admitted by the respondents (Centre and its concerned department) themselves and judicially noticed by the First Bench of the Madras High Court, that because of the need of Hindu pilgrims to visit Adams bridge (Rama Setu) and offer obeisance, the SCL (Sethusamudram Canal Project Ltd) is contemplating provision of viewing gallery along the channel alignment," Swamy said in his written submission.

"This admission demolishes the stand of the counsel (Centre's advocate), especially the averment that Rama Setu is not integral part of Hindu religion," he said and added that the Centre and those concerned with the project have "no locus standi to pontificate on what is at the core of Hindu religion".

Swamy, who has sought declaration of Rama Setu as an historical monument, accused the Centre of burdening the court with "unsubstantiated" and "dubious" interpretations from the Puranas and the Ramayana to undermine the sacredness of the mythological bridge. PTI

http://www.ptinews.com/pti\ptisite.nsf/0/9A43DDDFF4DB5572652574E40049E438?OpenDocument

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Rama Setu: UPA taking contradictory stands -- Malhotra

UPA taking contradictory stands on Ram Sethu: Malhotra

New Delhi (PTI): BJP's Chief Ministerial candidate for Delhi V K Malhotra on Wednesday hit out at the Congress-led UPA on the Ram Sethu issue, saying the Central government is adopting "contradictory stands" on the matter.

"The government has been taking contradictory stands on the Ram Sethu issue. First they said it exists. Then the culture ministry said in court that Ram did not exist and on Tuesday they said in court that the Sethu did not exist," Malhotra told PTI.

The BJP leader, who is also his party's Deputy Leader in the Lok Sabha, warned that his party will not bear with this attitude of the UPA government.

"They are playing with the feelings of not only Hindus but all Ram devotees, including Sikhs, who also believe in Ram," Malhotra said.

The saffron party leader said Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had visited Ramlilas and shown respect to Ram probably to get political mileage.

"But now they have shown their true colours by speaking against Lord Ram in court. We won't tolerate this," he said.



http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/002200810151431.htm

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Latest Rama Setu affidavit of UPA government is an affront to sentiments of millions of people – Ramasetu protection movement

Latest Rama Setu affidavit of UPA government is an affront to sentiments of millions of people – Ramasetu protection movement

The surreptious manner in which the Government of India has submitted an affidavit to the Supreme Court on 14 October 2008 shows that the Counsel Nariman and the UPA Government are in a state of panic.

As Dr. Subramanian Swamy has noted it is unethical conduct not to have given copies of the affidavit to the petitioners.

What is the UPA Government trying to hide? It appears that the UPA Government has forgotten the fact that they were forced to withdraw their affidavit denying Sri Rama and Ramayana after nation-wide peoples’ protests. The reference to Kamba Ramayan cited in the affidavit as referring to breaches in Rama Setu caused by Sri Rama has already been proved to be false and later-day interpolations.

Is the UPA Government trying to influence the Pachauri Committee in its deliberations by submitting yet another affidavit indulging in suggestio falsi and suppressio veri? The affidavit does not refer to the fact that Rama Setu functioned as a bridge between India and Srilanka right upto the 18th century as recorded in Royal Asiatic Society research archives. People from both sides had been using this as a causeway for centuries; if so, how could there have been a breach in the Setu? Searching for alibis in a desperate bid to continue with a project disaster and hurting sentiments of a billion Hindus seems to be the objective of this unethical, unsubstantiated affidavit.

The Supreme Court directions are a clear indication that the Rama Setu, a place of worship is central to the belief of millions of people and that it cannot be damaged for any channel project. Hence, the direction by the highest court of the land asking UPA Government to seek an alternative channel route without damaging Rama Setu. Earlier, the Madras High Court had also directed the UPA Government to consider declaring Rama Setu as an Ancient Monument under the 1958 Act.

Instead of carrying out the court directions honestly, UPA Government and its counsel continue to politick on this issue of intense concern to millions of people of the nation whose very core identity is linked with Sri Rama and Setubandha Rameshwaram. At this Setu, every year more than 5 lakh pilgrims assemble on Ashadha amavasya day to offer homage to the ancestors through pitru-tarpanam. This sacred pilgrimage, this ecological treasure should be protected as World Heritage and bequeathed to future generations.

The contempt with which UPA Government treats Hindu sentiments is shocking beyond belief. While being ready to succumb to sentiments of some communities by changing Metro route of Delhi or amend the Constitution on Shah Banu SC judgement, it is clear that UPA Government is demonstrating only its anti-Hindu, anti-national stance.

Kalyanaraman, National President,S. Vedantam, National Secretary Rameshwaram Rama Setu Protection Movement 15 October 2008

Rama Setu: not part of Hinduism, not a place of worship; Govt. tells SC

Rama Setu: not part of Hinduism, not a place of worship; Govt. tells SC

Govt. of India led by UPA chairperson Sonia gandhi and their counsel F. Nariman have lost their credibility, to put it mildly.

What does it take to win fat fees from the exchequer? Any lie goes? Even on sworn affidavits?

kalyanaraman

Ram Setu not part of Hinduism: Govt tells SC
Agencies

Published on Tue, Oct 14, 2008 at 16:11 in Nation section

BRIDGE IN TROUBLED WATERS: Tamil Nadu CM is adamant on Sethusamudram project .

New Delhi: The Centre on Tuesday told the Supreme Court the Ram Setu, which many Hindus believe was the bridge Lord Ram built to cross over to Lanka, was not an integral part of the religion.

The Centre’s affidavit also said the Setu, a 48-km long chain of limestone shoals, was destroyed by Lord Ram himself and is not a place of worship as claimed by some Hindu groups.

The groups say the Sethusamudram shipping canal project, which proposes building a shipping canal between India and Sri Lanka, would destroy the Setu.

The Government referred to Kamba Ramayana written by Tamil saint Kambar to support its claim. The affidavit is surprising, as the Government is examining an alternative alignment for the channel project upon a directive from the Supreme Court.

Janata Party president Subramaniam Swamy and several other organisations have filed pleas before the Supreme Court claiming Ram Setu is a place of worship and sacred to Hindus. The petitioners claim Lord Rama and his army built the Setu to reach Sri Lanka to rescue his wife.

The Centre has appointed a six-member committee to examine if an alternative route for the Sethusamudram project can be taken to save the Setu. The court is awaiting the report of the six-member committee.

The Sethusamudram project

The Sethusamudram shipping canal project proposes linking the Palk Bay and the Gulf of Mannar between India and Sri Lanka by creating a shipping canal.

The project involves dredging 82.5 million cubic metres of the Adam's Bridge or the Ram Setu. When completed, the canal will be 167 km long and its estimated cost is approximately Rs 2,427 cores.

This is the country's first effort at dredging a navigation channel that is 30-40 kilometres offshore. The project promises to save travel time and cost drastically.

As of now, ships traversing from India's east coast to the west coast have to circumnavigate Sri Lanka due to this bridge located southeast of Rameswaram.

Once the canal is ready, ships can navigate through the Gulf of Mannar and Palk Bay, and enter the Bay of Bengal directly, thereby reducing the distance for ships by 780 km and sailing time by up to 30 hours.

http://www.ibnlive.com/printpage.php?id=75806§ion_id=3

Tuesday, October 14, 2008 3:47 PM

Ram Sethu not a place of worship: Centre
Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi, Oct 14: The Congress-led UPA government has filed a fresh affidavit in the Supreme Court on the controversial Ram Sethu issue. In the 100-page affidavit, reportedly filed on October 11, the Centre claims that Ram Sethu, or Adam’s Bridge as it is popularly known, is not a place of worship as being claimed by many religious groups and political parties.

The Centre further says that Ram Sethu is not an integral part of Hinduism and repeated its earlier claim that it no longer exists. According to the affidavit, which contains replies to various petitions filed in favour of the Ram Sethu, including by J Jayalalitha’s AIADMK, Lord Ram had himself destroyed the bridge while returning from Ravan’s Lanka (present day Sri Lanka).

Intriguingly, the Centre, which has formed a six-member committee headed by noted environmentalist Rajendra Pachouri to explore the new alignment but chose to file the latest affidavit even before the committee could come out with its findings.

Moreover, the development came days after the Centre set in motion the process of examining an alternative alignment of the Sethusamudram Shipping Channel Project (SSCP) following a directive from the Supreme Court.

In the first week of this month, a team of engineers had commenced a survey of the area to work out an alternative alignment.

A total of six alignments were suggested since the project was conceived. One alignment chosen was stoutly opposed by political parties, including the BJP and Shiv Sena, as it cut through the Ram Sethu.

In July also, the Centre had told the SC that it had concluded Ram Sethu does not fulfil the criteria for being declared a national monument.

(Vide www.zeenews.com dated October 14, 2008)

Ramar Sethu is not an integral part of Hindu religion: Centre

Special Correspondent (The Hindu, 15 Oct. 2008)

Hence, it does not require protection under Articles 25 and 26
Religious texts show that the bridge was built and broken by Lord Rama himself
Petitioner’s counsel Parasaran himself argued that anything broken could not be worshipped

New Delhi: Even as it awaits the R.K. Pachauri committee report on an alternative route for the Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project, the Centre has reiterated in the Supreme Court that Ramar Sethu is not an integral part of Hindu religion requiring protection under Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution (dealing with right to freedom of religion).

The court, while reserving verdict on July 30 on the petitions filed by Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy and others challenging the implementation of the Sethusamudram project by demolishing Adam’s Bridge (Ramar Sethu), asked the parties to file written submissions. The court said the judgment would be pronounced after the experts panel submitted its report. Accordingly, the Centre filed its written submissions.

Response to petitioners

The Centre said: “Ramar Sethu does not form an integral or essential part of Hindu religion. A religious belief or practice which is not an essential and integral part of the religion is not protected by Articles 25 and 26.” This was in response to the petitioners’ argument that the destruction of Ramar Sethu would cause irreparable damage to Hindus’ religious sentiments.

Referring to the argument by senior counsel K. Parasaran (for one of the petitioners) that Ramar Sethu could not be touched as it was sacred, the Centre said: “The religious texts relied [upon] by him themselves showed that the bridge had been built and had been broken by Lord Rama himself.” Mr. Parasaran had also argued that anything broken could not be worshipped.

The Centre said the petitioner did not prove that Lord Rama himself did not break the bridge. “Nor has it been established that whatever remains of Ramar Sethu as a place of worship is an essential and integral part of the Hindu religion.”
Quoting Gazetteer of Southern India 1855, the Centre said that after returning from Sri Lanka upon His victory over Ravana, Lord Rama “took his heavy bow and with it made several breaches in the bridge so wide that nobody could pass over it on foot.”
Seeking dismissal of the petitions, the Centre said geological evidence “shows that this gap was once a bridge and it was breached during the violent storms in 1480. Operations for removing the obstacles in the channel and for deepening and widening it were begun in 1838.”

http://www.hindu.com/2008/10/15/stories/2008101556411300.htm

Swamy objects to Centre`s move in SC on Sethu project
Chennai, Oct 14: Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy on Tuesday criticised the Centre's move to submit written submissions in the Supreme Court in the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal project case, without informing principal parties in the case like him.

In a statement here, he said counsel for the Union Government had made a mention in the Supreme Court of the government's intention on the case without informing the parties concerned, which, he said, was an 'unethical behaviour' in the code of law.

These written submission did not add any weight to the argument already made by the government in the court, he said.

"What is clear, though, is that the government continues to maintain that Ramar Sethu is not an essential part of Hindu religion. The law is clear and explicit, namely, that what is to be held sacred is decided by a sizeable section of the people and not by any government or court," he said.

Bureau Report
http://www.zeenews.com/articles.asp?aid=476209&sid=REG

Friday, October 10, 2008

Campaign to declare Gulf of Mannar a World Heritage Site

Campaign to declare Gulf of Mannar a World Heritage Site
Friday, 10.10.2008, 06:35am (GMT-7)

NEW YORK: An unprecedented international campaign to protect the Gulf of Mannar from destruction by the planned Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project (SSCP) is to be launched in London, UK, next month. The Gulf of Mannar, which separates the south eastern tip of India from the west coast of Sri Lanka, is one of South Asia's largest biosphere reserves and a site of recognized scientific, environmental, religious and cultural importance. In 2006, when dredging commenced for the SSCP, in order to provide a navigation route for large vessels around the whole of the Indian peninsula, there was a chorus of disapproval from environmental, humanitarian and religious and cultural organizations worldwide.

Now, for the first time, many of these organizations are to meet to provide compelling multi-disciplinary evidence encouraging the Governments of India and Sri Lanka to ask UNESCO to designate the Gulf as a World Heritage Site.

This would effectively end plans for the SSCP and ensure the Gulf - home for many endangered plant and animal species as well as being the site of the world-famous Adam's Bridge, or Ram Sethu, a structure sacred for Hindus - is protected. The first international meeting to call for a permanent cancellation of the Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project (SSCP) and for the Gulf to be designated a World Heritage Site will be held at the London headquarters of the world's oldest biological society, The Linnean Society, on November 25 and 26.

It will be attended by scientists, biologists, environmentalists, economists, NGOs, religious leaders and civic authorities worldwide. Chairing the meeting will be Peter Bunyard, a fellow of The Linnean Society, co-founder of The Ecologist magazine, and a respected worldwide authority on climate change; Dr. Ranil Senanayake, a leading systems ecologist who has worked with the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the World Bank on matters of biodiversity and forest rehabilitation; Maaike Hendriks, of Both ENDS in Amsterdam. Both ENDS strives for a more sustainable and fairer world by supporting organization in developing countries to fight poverty and to work towards sustainable environmental management.

The meeting has been championed by Kusum Vyas of the Living Planet Foundation. She says many leading environmentalists and scientists recognize that the SSCP is a flawed venture which has been inaugurated without any detailed review of devastating impacts to the invaluable biodiversity of the Gulf of Mannar. She also argues the SSCP ignores critical environmental and humanitarian issues - including the impact on the livelihood of thousands of fishermen in the area - and that the project has not taken into sufficient account views expressed by environmentalists, seismologists, oceanographers and those living along the coastline.

"As world leaders contemplate ways to save the earth's environment, all responsible citizens of the global community must recognize that dredging and destroying one of the world's few remaining hotspots in terms of its exceptional biodiversity, to create a ship channel in the region of the Gulf of Mannar translates into an ecological disaster," says Kusum Vyas. "If this project goes ahead, more than 100 species of corals and thousands of sea turtles and endangered sea animals such as dolphins and dugongs will be irrevocably harmed.

We know the shipping lanes will bring pollution into the area and mankind will lose forever a part of its precious and fragile environment. Such action simply can't be justified on the grounds it is convenient for people and helps the economy. "To do so would be a sin not just against nature, but also against our own children and generations to come. On the other hand, if the governments of India and Sri Lanka work to declare the Gulf of Mannar a World Heritage site, they can leave a lasting legacy for their people and the citizens of the world."

India Post News Service
http://indiapost.com/article/usnews/4111/

Jaya dares Karunanidhi on Ram issue. Setu project closed chapter.

Jaya dares Karunanidhi on Ram issue

Chennai, Oct 11: AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa today alleged thatTamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi’s anti-Ram remarks have caused security risks for Tamils living in north India and dared theDMK patriarch to repeat his comments at a public meeting in Delhi.

“Karunanidhi has not visited Delhi of late as he knows that the people in north India are looking at Tamils with contempt, and also castigate him (for the remarks),” she said in a statement here.

“He is emboldened to insult Lord Ram as his party is in power in the state and he has police protection. Does he have the courage to make such remarks at a public meeting in Delhi? If he is ready (to take up the challenge), the AIADMK is prepared to bear his travel expenses,” she added.

Coming down heavily on Karunanidhi for his statements on the Sethusamudram Shipping Channel Project (SSCP), Jayalalithaa said the project was a “closed chapter” as there was no possibility for its completion.

http://bloglove107.sensualwriter.com/2008/10/09/jaya-dares-karunanidhi-on-ram-issue/

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Setu project: Centre engages a private firm to examine alternative alignment

Centre examines alternative alignment of SSCP project

Rameswaram, Oct 4 (PTI) The Centre has set in motion the process of examining an alternative alignment of the Sethusamudram Shipping Channel project (SSCP) following the Supreme Court directive, even as a team of engineers has commenced a survey of the area.

A 15-member team of a private firm is engaged in the inspection of the site chosen, to work out an alternative alignment. They are expected to take at least a fortnight to complete the preliminary study and submit a report, revenue and SSCP sources said.

The team commenced the work on September 29. Though a similar study had been undertaken in the same alignment earlier, it was not completed, the sources said.

The team is conducting surveys at Dhanushkodi, Old Railway Station, Kambipadu, Nadupadu, Aatruodai and Arichal Munai to know the nature of soil, and drilling operations will be done to a depth of 70 to 90 metres. The survey report in turn would be studied by the experts before taking a decision on the alternative alignment, they added.

The Centre had already constituted a six-member committee headed by noted environmental expert Rajendra Pachouri, to explore the new alignment.

A meeting of the experts with the SSCP and Dredging Corporation of India officials was also held in August last when it was decided to take up a survey on the new alignment.

A total of six alignments were suggested since the project was conceived. One alignment chosen was stoutly opposed by political parties, including BJP and Shiv Sena, as it cut through the Ramar Sethu, popularly known as Adams bridge. PTI

http://www.ptinews.com/pti\ptisite.nsf/0/506279E063E9A61E652574D90026ED94?OpenDocument

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Abandon Setu project. Develop Vizhinjam Container port

Here is a detailed article on Colombo port and the possibility of developing Vizhinjam as a container port on the west coast to provide for a world-class container terminal.

Government of India should just give up the Setusamudram project and focus on Vizhinjam port development.

About Vizhinjam port

Vizhinjam is an all - weather port and the international shipping line is just 10 nautical mile off its coast.

The Vizhinjam Port is clearly positioning itself to become Colombo’s direct competitor.

The Port’s official website says that, “Vizhinjam has more advantages compared to the Colombo port, and if developed can harbour even Panamax class and futuristic vessels. It also satisfies the physical and hydrographical parameters of modern seaports.”

The Port’s unique selling point is a natural depth of 24 meters which the Indian government claims is by far the best compared to other ports in the world - even those of New York, Southampton, Singapore, Dubai, Colombo, Hong Kong whose depth is only 15 meters.

The proposed Vizhinjam port, which is being marketed as a Green-field project, away from urban/city limit was originally just a fishing village and had to be developed completely from scratch.

The only claim to shipping, this village which lies 15 kms from Thiruvananthapuram and two kms South of Kovalam has, is its historic origins as the capital of Ayvel Kings of the 8th and 9th century.

The new Port, according to the available information from different websites has all the ingredients to turn out as an efficient, modern and highly productive one, and India is inviting international players with experience in developing the world’s high capacity modern ports, to submit their proposals.

The Port is also expected to attract a large share of the container transshipment traffic which is now being diverted to Colombo, Singapore and Dubai. It can also ensure the much needed economic development of India as well as open up immense job opportunities.

The proposed deepwater international container transshipment terminal at Vizhinjam is expected to bring down the total costs of movement of containers to and from foreign destinations, according to the Container Shipment Economics Study.
At present, India’s port capacity (12 major Indian ports) is a meagre 4.61 million TEUs/annum compared with China’s capacity of 50 million TEUs, almost 11 times that of India’s.

Vizhinjam Port alone will have the capacity of 4.10 million TEUs/annum.

Kalyanaraman

http://www.nation.lk/2008/10/05/newsfe5.htm Kerala port casts shadow over Colombo harbour’s future

Kerala port casts shadow over Colombo harbour’s future

“Chief Engineer Southern Port Development of the SLPA Janaka Kurukulasuriya did admit that Colombo port could be hit due to the development of ports in India. But added it was not a major worry.
“Capacity at Port of Colombo is nearly 4.5 m TEC and once the completion of the full expansion project it will be 14 m TEU.
“Our growth rate at present is 10%. We are closely monitoring all the development that takes place in India.
“It is true that we are little bit late, but not too late. Our schedule is to commence the operation of first terminal in the first quarter of 2012.”
By Wilson Gnanadass
Fresh questions are being raised as to whether Colombo harbour which has been acclaimed as one of the best transshipment hubs in the world, could continue to stake that claim with the advent of another major port in Kerala, India.
If Sri Lanka’s pride has been the port of Colombo, for its efficient and effective operation as a transshipment hub, doubts have now been cast. Soon the Colombo harbour may lose its splendor due to the emergence of other ports in the region.
It is not known how much and to what extent the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) has taken this threat seriously. However, the SLPA, it is learnt has opted to face the challenge.

The Colombo harbour, considered to be a well equipped transshipment port, has highly specialised infrastructure facilities for handling different types of freight, and acts as a switching point for cargo carried by deep sea vessels operating on trans-continental trade routes.

The SLPA has been successful in recording significant revenue from the transshipment business and according to the latest information has handled its highest ever monthly throughput of 185,099 Twenty – Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) last August, against its previous highest monthly throughput of 173, 583 TEUs recorded in last July. According to the SLPA it is a positive change of 11,516 TEUs.

Parallel to these standards, the port of Colombo has also been able to exceed its previous highest ever monthly throughput of 326,124 TEUs recorded in July 2008, up to 340,240 TEUs last August marking the latest highest ever monthly throughput record.

No doubt, these figures are direct indications of growth and stability of a port that has gained international recognition right throughout – an achievement, every Sri Lankan can be proud of.

Saturation point
Be that as it may, every business venture has to end at one point after reaching its saturation point, if no long term plan to expand the same venture is taken up with foresight and vision.
Going by the figures produced by the SLPA the Colombo port has handled 2,455,293 TEUs in 2005 and 3, 079, 086 TEUs in 2006 and 3,381,342 TEUs in 2007.

The capacity of both terminals (Jaya Container Terminal and the South Asian Gateway Terminal) is only 4.1 Million TEUs.
Similarly, India’s growth (which is Sri Lanka’s main catchment area) is around 15 % to 20% per annum. This would mean that by the end of 2008, if an all out effort to attract the Lankan share of the Indian volumes to be transshipped over Colombo is made, then the port of Colombo will be close to its optimum capacity.

Realising this, the SLPA has already put its act together, planning on developing another terminal.
According to SLPA sources the work is functioning smoothly and operations at the new terminal are expected to commence in the first quarter of 2012.

Hidden threat
The SLPA cannot be blind to the hidden threat posed by the fast emerging Vizhinjam port in Kerala, which is set to directly compete with the Colombo port also by the year 2012.
Wide publicity has already been given to the Vizhinjam port in the Indian newspapers and the websites.
Vizhinjam, a sleepy fishing village on the western Kerala coast of India, will soon become an important cog in the country’s transshipment business.

The Vizhinjam port project which failed to obtain approval for nearly two decades, has finally been given sanction by the central government of India, according to Indian State Ports Minister M. Vijayakumar.
The port according to the available information in different websites, will fulfill the need of providing transshipment on the Indian coast, as at present there is no existing Container Transshipment Terminal in India to cater to this need.
Annual container traffic close to four million TEUs is currently originating or destined to India through sea route with CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 14% during the last decade.

About Vizhinjam port
Vizhinjam is an all - weather port and the international shipping line is just 10 nautical mile off its coast.
The Vizhinjam Port is clearly positioning itself to become Colombo’s direct competitor.
The Port’s official website says that, “Vizhinjam has more advantages compared to the Colombo port, and if developed can harbour even Panamax class and futuristic vessels. It also satisfies the physical and hydrographical parameters of modern seaports.”

The Port’s unique selling point is a natural depth of 24 meters which the Indian government claims is by far the best compared to other ports in the world - even those of New York, Southampton, Singapore, Dubai, Colombo, Hong Kong whose depth is only 15 meters.
The proposed Vizhinjam port, which is being marketed as a Green-field project, away from urban/city limit was originally just a fishing village and had to be developed completely from scratch.

The only claim to shipping, this village which lies 15 kms from Thiruvananthapuram and two kms South of Kovalam has, is its historic origins as the capital of Ayvel Kings of the 8th and 9th century.
The new Port, according to the available information from different websites has all the ingredients to turn out as an efficient, modern and highly productive one, and India is inviting international players with experience in developing the world’s high capacity modern ports, to submit their proposals.

The Port is also expected to attract a large share of the container transshipment traffic which is now being diverted to Colombo, Singapore and Dubai. It can also ensure the much needed economic development of India as well as open up immense job opportunities.

The proposed deepwater international container transshipment terminal at Vizhinjam is expected to bring down the total costs of movement of containers to and from foreign destinations, according to the Container Shipment Economics Study.
At present, India’s port capacity (12 major Indian ports) is a meagre 4.61 million TEUs/annum compared with China’s capacity of 50 million TEUs, almost 11 times that of India’s.

Vizhinjam Port alone will have the capacity of 4.10 million TEUs/annum. This matter has to be looked at in the light of India not giving up on developing the Sethusamurdram project. The study, carried out by IL&FS Infrastructure Development Corporation and Hauer Associates, has also found that the Sethusamudram project will promote inter-coastal movements of Indian cargo, enhancing the potential of Vizhinjam as a transshipment hub.

Indian gateway ports
On the other hand, the present Indian gateway ports do not attract a sufficient number of mainline vessels due to inadequate facilities and the distance from international shipping routes.
As of now, about 61 per cent of Indian export/import containers are transshipped through the nearby foreign ports of Colombo, Singapore and Salalah (Oman.)

This results in an additional burden of upto $200 per TEU of cargo interests with freight paid by Indian exporters being 11.4 per cent of the c.i.f (cost, insurance, freight) value of goods as against the world average of 6.1 per cent.
With Vizhimjam port draft being 24 ft it will be able to attract the post Panamax container ships.

Plight
With a capacity of four million TEUs per annum, the Vizhinjam port will have the same capacity of the Colombo Port and with a draft far exceeding Colombo’s harbour depth, the chances of Colombo harbour becoming less attractive to mainliners, is a definite possibility.

For the Colombo Port this may well mean the end of an era. The monopoly Colombo now enjoys over sea routes in this part of the world might become a thing of the past, come 2012.
Sri Lanka has held sway over this industry for centuries now, because of her strategic location and ideal conditions of Colombo harbour.

The relatively new transshipment business came easily to Sri Lanka due to Indian ports not having the depth and capacity to handle the big ships.
Therefore it has been convenient for India to ship containers on smaller vessels from her southern ports to Colombo, where it is mixed and matched to various destinations in the world.

This makes sense so long as the Colombo Port has capacity to handle the expanding transshipment business (which was about 15 per cent year on year). But here lies the catch – the Port of Colombo is coming to the end of its capacity quite soon. Sometime next year Colombo harbour might hit a dead end when the port reaches saturation point.

Notwithstanding the location of Vizhinjam in the Deep South, cargo interests in the southern, northern and western regions may find it more viable to use the port as a gateway/transshipment terminal instead of Colombo, Singapore or Salalah. This means the hinterland of the port may extend to the western and northern parts of the country.
Once the new port has been constructed, Indian exporters will not have to travel to Dubai or Singapore for transshipment of cargo. It is expected to save Rs 1000 crores in expenditure.

According to IIM Students in Bangalore, with India’s current capacity for handling cargo is nearing saturation, a new port is a necessity, and Vizhinjam can fill that void extremely well.
The students in an article to the Economic Times, India have said that US $ 150 is levied in Colombo for transshipment and US $ 130 in Dubai and Singapore for the same.
They have therefore said that India can not only garner a substantial portion of this fee, but also save a lot of money if her ships break their bulk at Indian ports.

“A single container transshipped from Colombo port to Cochin incurs an expense of US $ 1,200. If it was directly landed at Cochin it would cost only US $ 400. Eight per cent of Indian containers are transshipped at Colombo, Singapore and Dubai and Indian ships account for 60 to 70 % of Colombo’s traffic,” they have said in their article.
Considering the shipping volume for the Asian region, the total transshipment cargo is expected to increase by 80%, 70% and 200 % for Colombo, Singapore and Port Klang respectively.

The IIM students from Bangalore in their article to the Economic Times India have therefore suggested that with proper planning Vizhinjam can expect to corner a significant chunk of the shipping volumes forecast to go to Colombo, along with a part of the volumes heading for Singapore and Klang.

Fears expressed
The fast development of Vizhinjam which is sure to gobble a major portion of the earnings by the SLPA, has raised concerns among most of the feeder shipping agents.
A senior official attached to a feeder shipping agency told The Nation that if proper steps were not taken to develop the Colombo harbour rapidly, then Sri Lanka was in for trouble.

“At its current status, the Colombo port will not be able to provide berth to some of the big ships in the future. This does not mean that we have to panic when ports in India are coming up. But if there is an undue delay in the development of the Colombo port then there can be a problem,” he said.

He said when the ships planned their services, they planned 18 months ahead of their services. He added that if Colombo was not prepared with a product plan, then these ships can easily look elsewhere.
He said the Colombo port has commenced the breakwater project already and added the development of the terminal can take place only ten months after the commencement of the breakwater project.

The top official said that normally the target time frame to complete a terminal was around three years, and added if the work was not completed in the Colombo port by 2012, then larger ships will be calling elsewhere, and the bulk of the transshipment volume could thus get diverted.
http://www.nation.lk/2008/10/05/newsfe5.htm