CNN-IBN recently came up with an in-depth analysis report by looking at the Sethusamudram controversy, not just in terms of its religions nature, but also in terms of security risks, the ecological disaster, loss of livelihood for the local people, etc that would be caused by this project.

The most important thing that has to be noted in this report is the one mentioned below.

A Lie by ASI

The ASI/Govt of India which gave a new twist to the controversy over the Sethusamudram project last month by filing an affidavit in the Supreme Court saying that there is no Proof for Ram having built the Ram sethu, has now revealed to CNN-IBN that it has infact NEVER conducted any survey or research on the Ram sethu at all! Let me repeat it, ASI never conducted any research or survey about Ramsethu at all!!

Moreover, the ASI has also said that since the Ramsetu is not yet declared as a cultural/heritage site by the government, it does not come under its jurisdiction at all!!

Then how the hell did it file the affidavit with the supreme court saying there is no scientific evidence for man made construction in Ram sethu?

In other words not only did it file a false affidavit about a research which it never carried out, but by doing so, it has also LIED to the highest judicial authority of the country. This is how our government is functioning.
NOTE: ASI functions under the cultural ministry of the government of India.

In fact the news report also says that many ASI officials themselves think that the Ramsetu should have been declared as a natural heritage site long back!

Exaggerate Claims and Economic Miscalculations

Costs outweigh the benefits. This is what CNN-IBN reported about the economic viability of the project.

The economics of the project is based on the amount of time that this project will save for the ships traveling in the region, by not having to go all around Srilanka. While the project proponents claim that Sethusamudram canal will save 22 hours, the report says that the reality is quite different from the claims.

Ships coming from Africa and Europe will actually save only 8-12 hours if they use the canal, and even this time will not mean a lot of time saved, because the ships will have to actually slow down in the shallow waters of the Sethusamudram canal!

Ships coming from deep south like Mauritius will not use the canal because they will actually lose time if they do so!

Also, the project cost means that if the time saved becomes only 8-12 hours, then the ships will actually have to pay more than the money they save by this slightly shorter route!

Not only that, bulk carriers and tankers will actually find it difficult to navigate in this narrow channel, and also the cost of hiring an experienced pilot to cross the channel would again mean more costs to the ships!

Negative economic impact of Sethusamudram project

If these are the economics behind the project, then we will hardly see any ships using the canal. Looks like the government is all set to create a deep-sea water amusement park in the region in the name of this Sethusamudram canal :)

Ecological Damage

The blasting of the coral reefs for the project will endanger not only the corals in the region but also the fishes in the sea, because the fishes use the corals as their breeding ground. Spread over 10000 sq kms this is India’s only marine bio-reserve!

Sea cucumbers, whales, sea weeds, corals, sea turtles, fishes etc will be almost wiped out in the region by the project. There are thousands of types of marine life forms in these seas. Dredging activities alone will wipe out the sea weeds and prevent coral formation by blocking sunlight.

There is no clearcut planning done about where will all the thousands of tons of dredged up sand be taken to! The plan simply says, The dredged up sand will be dumped on wasteland ! Even school kids do projects in a better way.

Sea cucumbers, etc in this region are all protected under the wild life protection act of 1972, and yet the project has not sought any clearance from the concerned wildlife departments! As the expert in the report says, this is a separate clearance required apart from the environmental clearance.

Blasting the sea beds will also impact whales and dolphins in the region. The report says that already few whales have died ever since the dredging started. Oil tankers and bulk carriers will pollute the marine biosphere in the region.

Loss of Livelihood

The local fishermen in the region say that this project will put an end to their means of livelihood in the region. The dredging machines in the region are already tearing off their fishing nets everyday. And the implementation of the project will also tear off their livelihood by destroying innumerable sea flora and fauna in the region.

Security Risks

Another stated project benefit is the reduction in time for vessels of Indian navy to travel between eastern and western coasts from 33 to 15 hours . The irony is that the government has not even consulted the navy and the coast guard about the security implications of the project! Why is the government moving with such a haste?

A naval expert questions the above claim of time saved, saying that the vessels of the Indian navy which usually travel at a speed of 15-20 knots when moving around srilanka as they do currently, will have to reduce their speed to 6-8 knots once they start moving in the Sethusamudram canal! So where is the gain?

Also, another concern raised by security experts is, the vast scope this canal would give to LTTE in srilanka. Its already a well known fact that LTTE has proven naval capabilities. What if the canal is held to ransom by LTTE? What if LTTE starts damaging the ships moving in the area?

Destruction of Heritage Site

Its altogether a different question as to whether the Ramsethu is natural or manmade, but either ways it deserves to be protected as a heritage site and research should be conducted about its origin and time line. No other country in the world would allow such a wonderful heritage site to be destroyed like this, instead it could be developed as a beautiful tourist spot.

Dirty Politics

While the DMK gave an Aryan-Dravidian color to the Sethusamudram controversy, the congress blamed the BJP of hypocrisy, hiding the true political picture .

And today DMK had planned to take political advantage of the situation by calling for a state wide bandh in Tamilnadu. Only DMK can do such a stupid thing, otherwise will a ruling party in power call for a bandh in its own state? How stupid of the DMK government to call for a Tamilnadu bandh and to try to bring the entire state to a stand still, causing inconvenience to the people. Thank god, we have a wonderful judiciary in the country, which not only termed the bandh unconstitutional, but also said today that,

If there is no compliance with our order, it is complete breakdown of constitutional machinery. We will then have to direct the (central) government to impose President’s Rule. If this is attitude of the DMK government, the UPA government should not feel shy of dismissing it and imposing President’s Rule.

Coming back to the Sethusamudram project, in spite of all the drawbacks, the government still wants to move ahead with the project, only because, as said in the CNN-IBN programme, the whales, the sea cucumbers, the fish, the corals etc in the seas of the project site DO NOT constitute a vote bank.

For those who claim that this mass destruction of nature is essential for developmental projects, please go through this link provided by a reader to see if there is ANY economic/developmental sense in this project.

Finally, about destroying the marine life forms in the seas.

What moral grounds will the humans have, if tomorrow a more powerful alien civilization invades earth and wants to destroy human civilization on this planet, to build a project what they consider is essential for the developmental activities of their alien civilization? What if for instance the aliens want to take away our sun to satisfy their energy needs?

There is a beautiful Telugu novel on similar lines by Yendamuri Veerendranath called Cheekatilo suryudu meaning Sun in the Dark . So please read that novel and then, let us sacrifice all the dirty politics under the dredging machines in the gulf of mannar.