Sethu Samundram is in National Interest !

R.D. Bhardwaj

A few days ago, a friend of mine, sent a write-up to me on Ram Sethu and wanted me to join some campaign to save it religiously, as he thinks, having been related to Lord Sri Ram, it is a sacred site. I respect his sentiments expressed, which of course, were drafted by some NGO, but, in reality, I feel and think otherwise. Accordingly, I have expressed my Point of View to him keeping in mind some hard facts of the case in current scenario and what is really required now-a-days.
2. Some Hard Facts of the Case : Let me dwell upon some hard realities of the Sethu Samundram project (on which you have sent to me an e-mail two days ago, for preserving Ram Sethu) and which is also hanging fire and lingering on for the last many years, thanks to the anti-project campaign launched by some political parties / groups etc., for their vested interests. In the following paras, I am presenting a counter view and I hope, a well educated person like you, who was also working as an officer in a premier financial institution for many years, should be well aware of the consequences to the society as well as to the country, in case such a project is delayed beyond a certain reasonable period.
3. In Indian Ocean, hundreds of ships have to travel long distances of 650 nautical miles for going from Gulf of Mannar to Bay of Bengal and vice-versa. These ships have to travel a long distance beyond Sri Lanka, instead of taking a shorter route in the Palk Bay, because water on that route is very shallow, which poses a lot of hindrances for ships to navigate. The sea-bed on that route has become shallow and unfit for navigation, as debris of Ram Sethu, (a bridge believed to be built by Lord Rama thousands years ago, had become weak with the passage of time, and thus collapsed into the sea) are lying at the sea-bed. The debris of this bridge and some other rocks lying on the sea-bed, have reduced its depth considerably, and the ships travelling thru that route can suffer huge damages or even sink in the sea after colliding with the rocks / debris of the Ram Sethu, which are still lying at the sea-bed over that route.
4. Govt. of India wanted to dredge the sea-bed over that route to clear the rocks and debris etc. to make the passage for navigation of ships, which should be at least 20 metres deep, 300 metres wide and 167 nautical miles long, so that our ships could travel safely over this new route. Please note that the existing route (which is beyond Sri Lanka) and is too long, i.e. 650 nautical miles, whereas, the new proposed route after the entire dredging is done, shall be considerably reduced to just 167 nautical miles. Not only that, on completion of the project, the time consumed by ships in travelling over the previous route, shall also stand reduced from 36 hours to just 10/11 hours. In addition to this, 13 new ports shall also come-up over the proposed new route which shall, in turn, shall provide employment opportunities to at least 5,000 people, besides indirect employment for hundreds more people.
5. Speaking from economics point of view of the new route, India shall save at least Rs. 4,500 crores worth fuel every year just by taking the shorter route besides affording the navigators a lot of comforts of not getting fatigued over such a long route. Secondly, India shall also earn foreign currency worth Rs. 1,200 crores every year on account of trans-shipment of goods of other countries, who shall be availing of the Indian port facilities over this new proposed route. This revenue generation has also growth rate of 7-8 % per annum.
6. Benefits accruing to India after completion of this new Sethu Samundram project are innumerable, but it is pity that some of the political parties have unnecessarily made a mountain of the mole-hill, exploiting religious sentiments of the people (who can not critically analyse the whole project from a different angle), for petty political gains. The irony of fate is that nobody thinks from national point of view, petty politics is allowed to take over and get undue importance.
7. The wisdom of the great people says, thinking from national point of view – “Nobody, how-so-ever big or high he or she may be, is certainly not bigger than his village, and village is certainly not bigger that the district, and district is certainly not bigger than the state and the state is certainly not bigger than the country. Nation always come first and every thing else afterwards, as nation is always supreme ……… Even religion is also not bigger than the interests of the nation…….” Hence, political parties who are opposing this project for petty political considerations, should think it over, afresh from national point of view, and help the Govt. to complete this much delayed Sethu Samudram project at the earliest, so as to enable India make quick strides in national development and also acquire competitive edge over other developing countries, particularly, amongst our Asian neighbours, who are always working overtime, hostile to the India’s interests, in more than one manner.
8. Please also note that what Sri Ram did (i.e. construction of Ram Sethu) at that time was done keeping in mind his interests, as there was no other way to go to Sri Lanka to fight with the demon king Ravana & rescue Sita ji from his clutches; and what Govt. of India wants to do now, has been well thought of and planned to keep in mind India’s entire range of interests ……. Think it over with a cool mind and then react, after pondering over all the aspects of this Sethu Samundram project.