Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Reasons for deeming Ram Setu as World Heritage Monument

Respect peoples' sentiments, recognize Rama Setu as cultural heritage
Dr. Swamy

Dr. Swamy highlights the move to declare Majuli as a natural and
cultural heritage site of the world. So is Rama Setu a cultural
heritage site, an underwater cultural heritage which needs protection
under the international UNESCO convention to which India is a
signatory (details given below).

Yes, Majuli is the largest river island in the world and is in the
Brahmaputra river.

Majuli, the largest river island in the world, is a civil sub-division
of Jorhat District. It is located 20 km. off Jorhat town (Asom,
India). It is a pollution free fresh water island. Total area of the
island was 1250, now it is about 650

Its length from east to west is about 90 km. & width from north to
south is avg. 16 km. Majuli is a natural & cultural heritage site.
With water bodies covering most of the areas , Majuli attracts plenty
of birds both local & migratory.

About 25—26 Satras are remaining now in Majuli of which the Satras of
Kamalabari, Auniati & Garmur are worth mentioning. These Satras are
propagating the religious ideology of great Assamese medieval
Vaisnavite Saint Sankardeva & Madhavdeva, preaching Satria culture. See also:

Government of India has submitted a proposal on 3 February 2004, to
declare Majuli Island as World Heritage monument.

Biosphere Reserve under IUCN (The World Conservation Union) Commission
on National Parks and Protected Areas

The Gulf of Mannar Marine Biosphere Reserve was established by the
Government of India and the State of Tamil Nadu in 1989 and was the
first marine protected area to be declared in South and South East
Asia…The IUCN commission on National Parks and Protected Areas, with
the assistance of UNEP, UNESCO and WWF, identified the Reserve as
being an area of "particular concern" given its diversity and special
multiple-use management status. The Reserve is among six areas chosen
on the basis of its threatened status and richness in biological
wealth and it is included in the action programme to save India's
protected areas for future generations.

World Heritage monuments: 22 cultural properties and 5 natural
properties in India

(Map )

The number of recorded sites on the World Heritage now stands at 812
which include both cultural and natural wonders, and endowment that is
shared by all mankind and the protection of which is the concern of
the entire mankind. These include 628 cultural, 160 natural and 24
mixed properties in 137 state parties. India is an active member State
on the World Heritage from 1977 and has been working in close
co-operation with other International agencies like ICOMOS
(International Council on Monuments and Sites), IUCN (International
Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) and ICCROM
(International Centre for the study of Preservation and Restoration of
Cultural Property).

There are 27 World Heritage Properties in India out of which 22 are
Cultural Properties and 5 are Natural Properties.

The natural properties are:

Chamoli: Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers national parks

Bharatpur: Keoladeo National Park

Manas: Manas Wild Life Sanctuary

Kaziranga: Kaziranga National Park

Sunderbans: Sunderbans National Park

Underwater Cultural Heritage

Underwater Archaeology Wing of the Archaeological Survey of India was
established in 2001.

Indiahas 7,516 km long coastline, 1197 islands and 155,889 sq. km of
territorial waters and 2,013,410 sq. km exclusive economic zone. The
vast water area of the country is rich in underwater cultural
heritage. The importance of underwater archaeology was realized as
early as in the VI five-year plan...

Adoption of "Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural
Heritage" by UNESCO in 2001 displays the global concern about the
protection and management of underwater cultural heritage. UAW has
initiated steps for the protection and preservation of the underwater
cultural heritage…Dr. Alok Tripathi Superintending Archaeologist

Underwater Archaeology Wing Archaeological Survey of India

Many monuments have been declared as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO,
including underwater cultural heritage sites, for example:

Coiba National Park and its Special Zone of Marine Protection in
Panama Tubbataha Reef

Marine Park in the Philippines

Kvarken Archipelago / High Coast in Sweden/Finland

Giant's causeway and Causeway coast in UK

Great Barrier Reef in Australia

Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System in Belize

Mont St. Michel and its bay in France

Ha Long Bay in Vietnam

Matobo Hills in Zimbabwe

US court backs Indian tribe (Navajo) to prevent desiccation of a
sacred mountain in USA

Dr. S. R. Rao, a pioneer in Marine Archaeology in India has written to
the Govt. of India recommending that Rama Setu be declared an
Underwater Cultural Heritage Monument and that ASI should undertake
further exploration work.

SC should have noted that Madras HC Bench including CJ had on 19 June
2007 observed as follows:

Ancient monument

It would mean to be any monument which is very old having historic
past or record. It can also be a stone, a post, a river etc. Thus in
Division Bench of Punjab & Haryana High Court held that the 'Brahm
Sarovar' is a very old historic place and it would clearly come both
within the expression of ancient and historical monument, as defined
in the 1958 Act…Court order: The Ministry of Culture and Tourism,
Union of India is directed to file a counter affidavit explaining
whether any study has been undertaken by the archaeological or any
other concerned department in respect of Adams Bridge/Rama Sethu and
whether the said bridge can be regarded as a national monument within
the meaning of the 1958 Act. (In a 11-page judgement, Madras HC
summarized the evidence submitted on Rama Setu).

CHENNAI ON 21.02.2008

By two suicidal moves, the UPA at the Centre and the DMK at the Tamil
Nadu level have destroyed the case they have been making in favour of
the Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project (SSCP):

(i) The first argument that they had been giving is
that in a secular state committed to modern progress, religious
sentiment cannot be a determinant factor in decision-making by the
State. The DMK has been pressing this type of argument especially
hard during the last 50 years.

This argument was however sabotaged by the DMK itself when the TN
Government filed a review petition in the Supreme Court in the
Jallikattu issue on January 15th this year and argued for permitting
the wild bull race on the ground that the religious sentiment of the
Madurai District population has to be respected. In Rama Setu matter,
the religious sentiments of almost 1 billion Hindus of the nation is
affected, not just two millions one district. Hence, the Rama Setu
has to be protected.

(ii) Second, the Union Government has been taking the
stand that Rama Setu is a 'natural formation' and not 'man-made' or
constructed, and hence it is argued that the Setu cannot a heritage be
or an ancient monument.

This argument has now been self-negated by the Union Government by its
decision to declare the Majuli Island, a mid-river deltaic island in
Assam's Jorhat district and also to approach the UNESCO to declare the
island as a "World Heritage" symbol because it is a "cultural
landscape"! This destroys the 'natural formation' argument of the
Government against Rama Setu.

Hence, my petition in the Supreme Court to save the Rama Setu is bound
to succeed in the Apex Court. The SSCP is thus already "dead on

See also:
Setu project: a debt trap, say experts

No comments: