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Sethusamudram Project Facts Vs. Myth

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Sethusamudram Project Facts Vs. Myth
[quote=narayanan,Mar 10 2007, 09:52 PM]
Summary observations of what I see on that BLOG:

<!--emo&:bcow--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/b_cowboy.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='b_cowboy.gif' /><!--endemo--> A critical commentator should see the original site and all reports contained therein.

When two science professors disagree, should a Public Administration expert arbitrate? Fine, can be done. I suggest n write his concerns to tad s murthy (his email address given below) and let me know what he says and what would be his choice among the 5 alignments considered so far and how each of the 5 alignments would cope with the next tsunami (which incidentally is not like a meteor and repetitively occurs which necessitated, Japan, for e.g. to build protection walls in specific coastal zones; maybe it is a good idea to reevaluate all the 5 alignments and to re-design the chosen alignment to cope with the next tsunami).

Sure, form a committee of experts, I will chair it and give the final report of the committee (since as a non-expert I am most qualified to resolve the quarrels among experts).

The project involves cutting of a ship channel to connect Gulf of Mannar and Bay of Bengal so that most of the ships moving between east and west coasts of India can have navigable sea route around the peninsula within India's territorial waters, without circumventing Sri Lanka. But officials say that even after the completion of the project, the depth of the channel between the two nations will only be 12 metre and big vessels like very large crude carriers (VLCCs) won't be able to pass through the channel. "Only medium-size or empty vessels will be able to pass through it,". Sethusamudram Corporation Ltd has been constituted for the implementation of the project. Once the project is completed, it is expected that the sailing time and distance for ships between East and West coast would be considerably reduced



The project will have serious adverse impact in Kerala Coast. The Bay of Bengal entrance of a sea canal project linking India's coasts should be realigned from facing east to northwest to protect the Kerala coast from future tsunamis, says a renowned expert on the phenomenon.

The present orientation of the Sethusamudram canal will "funnel tsunami energy into the channel and this will meet (any) tsunami travelling from the south of Sri Lanka at the southern end of Kerala," Tad S. Murty, an advisor to the government of Canada and an expert on tsunami, told a journalist and an environmental activist in an interview here last month.

He added that this would increase the height of tsunami waves along the Kerala coast.

"It is very easy to show that the canal will indeed provide another route for tsunamis and the energy will be directed towards south Kerala," Murty told journalist Asuran and activist Ramesh Radhakrishnan.

His comments were made available to IANS.

Murty had helped develop a simulation model of the Dec 26 tsunami, which killed over 220,000 people worldwide and about 10,000 in India.

In February, his paper titled Perspectives on Coastal Hazard Preparedness had set the tone for a workshop at the National Institute of Oceanography.

In his interview, Murthy said: "The southern part of Kerala was not much impacted by the Dec 26 tsunami mainly because the tsunamis that arrive from
the Indian Ocean have to diffract around Sri Lanka, which necessarily have to take a very wide turn and missed Kerala."

This is because tsunamis are long gravity waves and cannot bend as easily as short waves, just like a big car versus a mini. A mini can cut corners, but a big car has to take very wide turns.

"A re-orientation of the eastern entrance of the channel towards the northwest will fix the tsunami problem," he added.

The Tuticorin Port Trust, which is executing the channel project, does not think a realignment is necessary.

"(This) I absolutely disagree with. I have analysed the problem to my complete satisfaction," Murty maintained.

He cited the example of the Alberni canal on Vancouver Island in British Columbia.

"The Sethusamudram canal has many characteristics similar to the Alberni canal, and this is the reason I am concerned.

"In the March 28, 1964, Alaska earthquake tsunami, outside of Alaska the largest tsunami amplitude was at the head of the Alberni canal well inland and not at the open coast as everyone expected. Later, I explained this was due to (a phenomenon known as) quarter wave resonance amplification," Murty explained.

Opponents describe the Rs.24 billion Sethusamudram project as an ecological disaster as it will upset the delicate balance in the Gulf of Mannar region.

--Indo-Asian News Service


As far as the Lankans are concerned, the launch of the Sethusamudram Project has already triggered a second tsunami. Across the Palk Straits, political leaders raised the issue in Parliament; ecologists are crying out about the potential impact of the project on environment; and newspapers are running stories of how the project will affect the livelihood of fishermen. The Sunday Observer, on July 10, reported that fishermen from Pesalai and Talaimannar in Mannar district had complained to NorthEast Governor Tyronne Fernando that, "deepening of the Palk Straits under the Sethusamudram Canal project would destroy the breeding ground of fish in the sea territory close to Mannar shore." Environmentalists say that the project could destroy the coral reef in the area that is home to more than 700 fish varieties. The Palk Straits, Palk Bay and Gulf of Mannar are known for their rich marine life. India, on July 14, termed the concern over possible environmental degradation as "baseless".

Mangala Samaraweera, Sri Lanka's Ports, Shipping and Aviation Minister, tried to allay fears about the project. He said, "Our concerns on [the project's] possible impact to our economy, marine sources and the environment have been duly acknowledged by the Indian government." Samaraweera added that his government was having "sufficient and fruitful dialogue" with Indian officials over the implementation of the project.
But, Sri Lankans are not convinced. Environmental Foundation Ltd, a leading public interest organisation in Sri Lanka, had this to say about the project: "The effect on the environment on the project, during both the constructional and operational phases, will be immense. The Gulf of Mannar-Palk Bay area is a backwater, Adam's Bridge acting as a barrier to the flow of water through it. In these relatively warm waters a complex of ecosystems has grown, which could be severely affected by the Sethusamudram Project."

An EFL report concluded that the Sethusamudram Project was potentially damaging to the environment and could seriously affect Sri Lanka; it sought a proper study, including comprehensive modelling of potential water flows through the area, considering the Gulf of Mannar-Palk Strait as a part of the regional system as a whole; and demanded that all stakeholders, on both sides of the Palk Straits, be consulted in the course of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process.

The Sethusamudram Project, more than a century in the making, is about creating a ship channel across the Palk Straits between India and Sri Lanka. The dredged channel will allow ships to sail between India's east and west coasts through the channel rather than circumnavigate Sri Lanka. It will result in saving of up to 424 nautical miles (780 km) and up to 30 hours in sailing time. The project is expected to have a deep impact on Port of Colombo, the only transshipment hub in South Asia. Sri Lanka is aware that the Sethu project could wean away ships calling in the Port of Colombo and Galle harbour.

Last week, Sri Lanka's Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar told Parliament, "If the Sethusamudram Project poses adverse effects to Sri Lanka, the government will take all necessary steps to safeguard the interests of our people and our country." Colombo is contemplating taking India to the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Kadirgamar is also pressing for "joint monitoring and assessment of any adverse implication" of the project. Meanwhile, diplomatic negotiations continue between the two countries.

View of Lankans
[18 July 2005]

The Rediff Interview/Dr Tad Murty

'Tsunami warning system in India by 2007'

September 29, 2005

Dr Tad S Murty is one of the world's most respected tsunami experts. Till recently, he advised the Canadian government on tsunamis and played an important role in the development of the 'Baird' simulation model of the December 26, 2004 tsunami.

He was on the editorial board of the prestigious tsunami journal, Science of Tsunami Hazards for many years and presently teaches at the University of Ottawa.

Dr Murty was in Chennai as a part of the Canadian delegation led by Dr Irwin Itzkovitch, assistant deputy minister, natural resources Canada, and the Canadian consulate to conduct a workshop on natural disaster mitigation and management.

He spoke exclusively to Contributing Editor Shobha Warrier on natural disasters and the Sethusamudram Canal Project.

You are part of the Canadian delegation on disaster management. What exactly is your role for the Canadian government?

In Canada, until recently I was a federal government scientist. After my retirement, I am teaching at the University of Ottawa.

I was involved with developing various numerical computer models for natural hazards such as cyclones, storms, tsunamis, coastal erosion, submarine landslide, etc. I am not involved in the socio-economic aspects of natural disasters as I do not have the expertise; my role is on developing the scientific techniques.

The tsunami tragedy: Full coverage

Since nobody can prevent natural disasters, as a scientist, are you involved in developing systems that warn people of disasters in advance?

Yes, you are right, we cannot prevent natural disasters but we can do two things; we can minimise the effects of disasters, and we can also considerably reduce loss of lives by predicting hazards like cyclones, storms, hurricanes, etc.

Also, we can mitigate to some degree the actual effects of the disaster but we can never prevent them.

When the tsunami struck southern Asia, nobody had predicted that something of this size was going to happen.

It is not quite correct to say that. There was no warning because we do not have a tsunami warning system in the Indian Ocean. My feeling is, had there been a warning system in place, at least 90 per cent of the loss of life could have been avoided.

So, it is not a question of failure of science. Last time a major tsunami struck was 60 years ago in November 1945 in the Arabian Sea. 60 years before that in August 1883, a tsunami happened in the Bay of Bengal.

Since it happens after a gap of 60 years, there was no memory of a tsunami; nobody felt the urgency or need to have a warning system in place.

Now, India is going ahead with a tsunami warning system, and I am happy to see the progress. We will have an operational system by September 2007.

It is estimated that when natural disasters strike, there is more loss of life and more loss of materials in the developing world. Is it because there are more people here? Or, is it because the developing world is not as prepared as the developed world?

Yes, that seems to be so, there are more people in the affected areas.

Similarly, there is a general feeling among the public that there is an increase in disasters. No, disasters are not particularly increasing. We always have had natural disasters. For example, 100 years ago, there was no reporting of such disasters. What has increased is the effect of such disasters. That is because of the increase in the population and coastal infrastructure.

Between the 19th and 20th century worldwide, the coastal infrastructure has increased by 13-and-half times! So, to put it in another way, in the 19th century, if there was one house in a place, there are 14 houses there now.

And, the population is four times more. So, with all that increase, the socio-economic effects of disasters are increasing. But the disasters themselves are not increasing. Their number remains about the same.

The developed world always used to ridicule the developing world on the way the latter handle disasters but was it not alarming the way the United States handled Hurricane Katrina?

When it comes to reaction to disasters, there is really no difference between the developing and the developed world. It's like this; you can never prepare enough for a disaster. We should be pragmatic. And, humans need time to react to a disaster; that doesn't change whether a country is rich or poor.

In the case of Hurricane Katrina, as a person who has been working on hurricanes, my interpretation is this: what happened in the US was that the enormity of the disaster caught everybody by surprise including the US government. I am not defending anybody.

The area that was hit by Hurricane Katrina is more than the size of Great Britain, more than the area of the entire state of Tamil Nadu, it's almost the size of Andhra Pradesh. 92,000 square miles of area was affected. It's like a war; you can't be there everywhere.

Look at Hurricane Rita. Of course, it was far less devastating. The authorities responded well.

The area is said to be hurricane prone, and hurricanes are lashing quite regularly. Why was it that Hurricane Katrina was so ferocious? Like some scientists said later, was global warming the reason behind the ferocity of this hurricane?

No. The hurricanes are not stronger now. Katrina is only category 4, and the biggest hurricane that hit the US happened in the early 1900s. It is a wrong perception.

Hurricanes are not getting bigger, and they are not happening more frequently. Only the effects are more, and that is because of the population increase, and the infrastructure increase. Reporting in the media is more extensive now.

Those levees on the coast were built earlier for much weaker hurricanes. In the 1980s, engineers wanted to raise the levees and prepare for category 5 hurricanes, and they got the money from the US government to do it. But the environmental groups went to court and stopped it. See, what happened now? Who is to be blamed? The environmentalists are the people who are responsible.

If you look at the Bay of Bengal, in the 20th century, there have been far fewer tropical cyclones than in the 19th century. I have studied this globally, I have looked at 200 years of records, and I have found that not a single record has been broken in the last 25 years. But people don't realise this

A lot of pseudo experts appear in the newspapers and make all kinds of ridiculous statements. Last time any record was broken was on October 12, 1979. Typhoon Tip (wind speeds reached 300 kmph) was the strongest typhoon in historical time.

The maximum number of hurricanes in the Atlantic were in 1969; there were 12 hurricanes. Now, you have two and you are saying all hell is breaking loose. During 1933, there were 21 tropical cyclones.

If global warming is responsible, the number of hurricanes should have increased but they have not. Intensity of hurricanes should have increased but it has not. But effects have increased.

See, you need a cure for the diseases you are suffering from. If you have diabetes, you need insulin, and not dialysis.

So, what should be done to reduce the effects? Is having a mangrove forest along the coast good?

We should plan coastal development so that we leave buffer zones. Yes, we need mangrove forests. Mangroves can mitigate 50 to 60 per cent of the impact and not 100 per cent.

Can anything mitigate the effects by 100 per cent?

No. Up to 90 to 95 per cent, you can mitigate the ill effects from tsunamis by creating sandbars in the ocean near the coast. These are very effective dissipaters of long gravity tsunami waves. Sandbars can dissipate up to 95 per cent of the energy. They are environmentally good.

What about building sea walls along the coast? The Tamil Nadu government had a plan to build sea walls along the entire coast.

No, I will not advocate sea walls for the entire coast. You can have sea walls where you cannot take a chance like nuclear power generator, harbours, etc though I do not personally like sea walls because they are ugly.

The coast of Tamil Nadu can be protected in more environmentally sound ways. What I suggest is, have sandbars and grow mangroves; also have buffer zones.

Let me ask you about the Sethu Samudram project. You said it would put the southern Kerala coast at risk.

Let me be clear. I am not against the Sethu Samudram project. I think it is a good project. I am not opposing it on environmental grounds as I have not studied that aspect. There may be ecological and social issues which I am not an expert to comment upon.

I feel that the Bay of Bengal entrance of the present orientation of the channel will undoubtedly funnel the tsunami energy, when a tsunami strikes, into the channel and this will divert the tsunami travelling from south of Sri Lanka to the southern part of Kerala.

The southern part of Kerala was not much impacted by the December 26, 2004 tsunami mainly because the tsunami that arrived from the Indian Ocean diffracted around Sri Lanka, took a very wide turn (because tsunamis are long gravity waves and cannot bend as easily as short waves, just like a big car versus a mini. A mini car cuts corners, but a big car has to take very wide turns.) and missed south Kerala.

So, what I suggest is a slight modification of 0.1 per cent. If there is a reorientation of the eastern entrance of the channel towards the northwest, it will fix the tsunami problem. Otherwise, there is a real threat to southern Kerala from future tsunamis.

I am 100 per cent certain about this.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: tad murty <>
Date: Feb 21, 2007 12:56 AM
Subject: Re:
To: Kumar Chellappan <>

Dear Mr. Chellappan, Thank you for your e-mail. I am answering your queries below. I will appreciate it very much if you can use my exact words(as quotations) so that I will not be mis-quoted. I will also appreciate it if you can e-mail me what you have written. Regards,Tad Murty

On 2/20/07, Kumar Chellappan <> wrote:

I am a journlist working with Deccan Chronicle in Chennai. Recently, a friend of mine sent me a copy of some suggestions by you on the Sethusamudram project. Since i am not a technical person, i could not follow it fully. Please be kind enough to explain it so that i can file it as a news report.

1.Do you feel the ecosystem in the Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal will be destroyed because of the Sethu project (especially in the Gulf of Mannar area?) ------I cannot answer this since I am not an ecologist.

2. Could you be specific about the south Kerala angle in the eventuality of another tsunami?------During the Indian Ocean tsunami of 26th December 2004, the very southern part of Kerala was generally spared from a major tsunami, mainly because the tsunami waves from Sumatra region travelling south of the Sri Lankan Island, partially diffracted northward and affected the central part of the Kerala coast.Since tsunami is a long gravity wave (similar to tides and storm surges) during the diffraction process, the rather wide turn it has to take spared south Kerala coast. On the otherhand, deepening the Sethu Canal might provide a more direct route for the tsunami and this could impact south Kerala.In late 2005 I had a face to face discussion in Chennai during a very cordial meeting with Shri Raghupathy(I do not know his exact title, but he is the head of the project, to the best of my knowledge) during which I raised this point. I requested him to consider slightly re-orienting the entrance of the Sethu canal on the Bay of Bengal side, so that in future tsunami events, tsunami energy will not be preferentially funnelled into the Sethu canal. Shri Raghupathy assured me that he will look into this matter. When a senior IAS officer like Shri Raghupathy says something, I beleive him and I have no further concerns on this matter.

3. Do you think the chances of another Tsunami have increased because of this canal?------no. The Sethu canal has nothing to do with the generation of tsunamis, tsunami generation depends upon tectonics.

And please tell me any other points which you feel important about the environmental aspect of the Canal?--- I am not an expert on environmental matters and hence cannot offer any opinion.

Change the route of SSCP – Save Ram Setu

Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh

Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha, Yugabda 5108

Saraswati Kunj, Nirala Nagar, Laxmanpuri (Lucknow)

Chaitra Krishna 5-7 Yugabda 5108 (March 9-11, 2007)


The ABPS strongly condemns the obstinate and reckless attitude of the Government of Bharat in going ahead with the controversial Setu Samudram Channel Project – SSCP – that proposes to destroy Ram Setu, the bridge constructed by Bhagvan Ram to cross the sea, thus unabashedly trampling upon the sentiments of crores of Hindus. The ABPS also wants to register strongest protest over the highly condemnable statement of the Union Minister for Shipping calling the opponents of the SSCP ‘anti-nationals’.

The ABPS wants to remind the Minister and other authorities that the entire project smacks of a sinister design to destroy Bharat’s age-old heritage and world’s most ancient man-made structure, much older than the Pyramids of Egypt (Around 4500 years) and the Great Wall of China (Around 2600 years). This can be deduced from the fact that while several alternative routes that do not destroy any monument were available before the authorities for the same purpose, they chose this very route that is longer than the others and cuts across the Ram Setu. They not only brushed aside the objections raised by the environmentalists and the livelihood concerns of thousands of fishermen in that area but also refused to consult the experts from the most important wing of Marine Archaeology.

The Government has turned a deaf ear to the warnings of environmentalists, seismologists, geo-morphologists etc over the impending danger to our coastline from future calamities like Tsunami due to the destruction of this barrier.

The ABPS wishes to remind all, that structures like Taj Mahal in Agra and Kutub Minar in Delhi were saved from the threat of damage and destruction from the modern development oriented initiatives like industrialisation and Metro Rail project respectively, due to public and judicial intervention. While the above two date back only to a few hundred years the Ram Setu’s historical antiquity goes back to several millennia.

The ABPS welcomes the initiative taken by bodies like Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha in mobilising public opinion by way of involving the saints and filing cases in the courts. It also places its appreciation on record for all those political parties, social organisations and media agencies who have taken up the cause of supporting this initiative of preserving Bharat’s cherished national heritage and honour. It also congratulates lakhs of people who have signed a petition urging the President of Bharat to intervene and save this monument.

That the Setu existed there for several millennia; that it is still mentioned in various records as the Adam’s Bridge; that the British Gazette records mention that people used to cross the sea over that Setu till 15th Century; that the Archaelogical Survey of India has ‘Aasetu Himachalam’ as its motto embedded in its emblem referring to the same Setu; and that even NASA satellite images have clearly shown that there exists an organised chain of sand shoals 30 KM long; that the bridge's unique curvature and composition by age reveals that it is man made; over and above all this, that there exists a strong local tradition irrespective of religion that attaches great sacredness to this Setu should be enough for the protests against the SSCP to be taken by the Government seriously. This monument deserves not destruction in this callous manner but protection as a Heritage Site under UNESCO mandate.

The ABPS demands that the Government deliver its obligation under Art '51-A' of the Indian Constitution by declaring it as a protected monument and handing it over to the Archaeology department for further investigations.

The Pratinidhi Sabha calls it ironical that the Government of Bharat wants to destroy this great monument using its very name for the project “Setu Samudram Channel Project’.

The ABPS calls upon the countrymen to immediately launch a nationwide campaign to force the Government to abandon its callous course.

The ABPS warns the Government that resumption of the project in the present form is fraught with serious consequences and advises that it should form an experts committee consisting of marine archaeologists, seismologists, environmentalists etc as advised by the Ramnathpuram Court and explore the alternative routes that do not damage the sacred Ram Setu and yet fulfil the objectives of this commercially very important project.

Messages In This Thread
Sethusamudram Project Facts Vs. Myth - by Guest - 03-10-2007, 09:02 PM
Sethusamudram Project Facts Vs. Myth - by Guest - 03-11-2007, 01:00 AM
Sethusamudram Project Facts Vs. Myth - by Guest - 03-11-2007, 01:43 AM
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Sethusamudram Project Facts Vs. Myth - by Guest - 03-11-2007, 07:31 AM
Sethusamudram Project Facts Vs. Myth - by Guest - 03-11-2007, 08:59 AM
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