Saturday, April 21, 2012

Declare Rama Setu as National Monument, Rameshwaram Islandas sacred pilgrimage centre. Abandon channel project.


Rameshwaram Ramsetu Protection Movement,
12, MV Naidu Street, Chennai 600031
President: S. Kalyanaraman Secretary: D. Kuppuramu

Press Release April 21, 2012

Declare Ramasetu as National monument,  Rameshwaram island , Sagarasangamam of Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean as sacred pilgrimage centres

Rameshwaram Ramasetu Protection Movement welcomes the statement made on 19 April 2012, by Additional Solicitor General who told the Supreme Court that the government respects all religions and recognizes the existence of the issue of faith.

Beyond the issue of faith, we expect the Union Government to respect the sentiments of millions of people of India and many parts of the world for whom Rameshwaram is a sacred island, Sagarasangamam -- confluence of Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean at Palk Straits -- is pilgrimage and Ramasetu is a national monument, to cherish the memory of Lord Sri Rama who is the very embodiment of dharma.

During the course of bathymetry studies and test drilling for channel project, National Institute of Ocean Technology had noted the following facts related to the structural formation of the Ramasetu. According to Dr. S Badrinarayanan, former director of Geological Survey of India and a member of the National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) team said that coral reefs were formed only on hard surfaces. But during the study it was found that the formation at Adam's Bridge is nothing but boulders of coral reefs (some of which were so light that they could float on water). When NIOT experts drilled for investigation, they found that there was loose sand two to three metres below the reefs. Hard rocks were found several metres below the sand. Such a natural formation is impossible. This is a clear indication that unless somebody has transported them and dumped them there, those reefs could not have come there. According to Valmiki Ramayana, which described this engineering marvel, Setubandha, the bridge was designed and carried out by architects, Nala and Neela. The identification of light (but strong) boulders made the causeway easy for transportation, withstanding a lot of weight. These scientific facts together with the historical, and heritage traditions documenting Rameshwaram as Ramarkoil (temple of Rama) in the earliest maps of 18th century, the use of the Ramasetu for people to transit between Rameshwaram and Talaimannar, and village revenue records of peoples' settlements on the Ramasetu make it imperative for Government of India to recognize and declare Ramasetu as a national monument.
As documented in the Imperial Gazetteer, the Rameshwaram island (between Pamban canal and Guf of Mannr) and the Sagarasangamam between Bay of Bengal and Indian ocean are sacred pilgrimage places where people perform traditional prayers in memory of the ancestors, particularly on Ashadha Amavasya day when lakhs of people gather for the annual festival in memory of ancestors. ["The island of Rameswaram is in the shape of a bow and is called Rama's bow. Each end is called kodi, tip of the bow...Dhanushkodi is an important place of pilgrimage for Hindus...There are a lingam and a vinayagar idols housed in a shed at the bathing ghat. The pilgrims take bath here and offer prayers and perform rituals for the removal of all sins. A bath at the Sethu on a New Moon day, Ardhodaya and Mahodaya is considered very sacred. Here pilgrims bathe and some immerse the ashes of their dead...Ramalingam of Rameswaram is one of the twelve Jyothi Lingams in India. Scholars fix the period of the Ramayana to third century BCE. So the Linga installed by Rama should be now more than 2,200 years old...The masonry structure around he inner shrine of the sanctum sanctorum of the temple was built by a Ceylon prince styled Parakramabhahu in A.D. 1173, the latter having had the stone hewn at Trincohmalle and numbered on the spot ready to be put together...Almost every Sethupathi has done something or other to the temple"Hunter, Sir William Wilson (1886).The Imperial Gazetteer of India. Trübner & co.. pp. 874-877 and 945-951.]
During the tsunamis, it was Adam's Bridge and Sri Lanka that saved the southern coastline when Nagapattinam and other northern shores were ravaged.  Any deep channel which connected the turbulent Bay of Bengal and the calm Gulf of Mannar which is a National Marine Bioreserve, a fragile ecological zone producing sacred conch-shells (turbinella pyrum), could spell doom for the southern Tamil Nadu coastline and cause irretrievable devastation of the thorium (monazite sand) accumulations in Manavalakuricchi, Chavara and Aluva.
Considering these factors and the questionable economics of any channel in Sethusamudram which is not likely to result in any benefit for navigation vessels between the Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal, we ask that the Sethusamudram channel project should be abandoned. 

We demand that Government should declare Rameshwaram island and the Sagarasangamam on Gulf of Mannar and Ramasetu as national monuments and sacred pilgrimage centres like Brahmasarovar in Kurukshetra and Majuli island on River Brahmaputra. Such a declaration will be consistent with the criteria laid down in Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958.

While expecting these actions on the part of Government of India in recognition of the existence of not only the faith of the people, we request, on national considerations, that the Union Government to consider other options to develop the lives of the coastal people by forming Marine cooperatives as Special Economic Zones (under the new Law of the Sea extending territorial waters to 200 nautical miles) with adequate berths for larger-sized sea-faring vessels and airconditioned storage facilities for aquatic harvests gathered by the fisherfolk and maritime traders. Other options include the development of Tuticorin and Vizhinjam container international ports with freight corridor links to Chennai and Kolkata and laying natural gas and oil pipelines from western coast to eastern coast of India.

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