Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The publication activity of this blog is now persued by www.sethusamudram.in . Please follow the above link.

Monday, July 04, 2005

The following Posting is reproduced from: www.sethunews.blogspot.com


2005, July 5, sethunews exclusive

Research Papers challenging Tuticorin Port Trust's observations on Tsunami, Cyclones and Sedimentation issues related with SSCP and Palk Bay

Links:

1. Indomer-Alkyon’s tsunami simulation model reveals the contrary! It reveals that Sethu Canal will be dangerous to both Indian and Sri Lankan Coastlines instead!! in
http://www.asiantribune.com/show_article.php?id=2475


2. http://lareef.blogspot.com/2005/04/sethusamudaram-in-time-of-tsunami.html

(This article 'Will to Disaster' was subsequently published in 'The Economic and Political Weekly' dated 25 June 2005 ) - www.epw.org.in


Both these articles are available in this blog also.


Titles:

1. Sethusamudram Shipping Canal would destroy the coastline stability of Sri Lanka and India. - Posted on June 10, 2005

2. The Will to Disaster - Posted on May 13, 2005


Additional Sources available in this blog that refute TPT's answers still further:


1. Is ignorance Bliss? - Posted on May 25, 2005

2. Movie in 3 dimension, depicting inundation by tsunami waves on the shores of South India and Sri Lanka - Posted on May 18, 2005

3. Animation Movie on the pattern of interaction of the December 26th Tsunami waves with Palk Bay - Posted on May 14, 2005

4. December 26th Tsunami GIF and QT movies on a 3d platform - Posted on May 13, 2005



....................................................................................................................................................................


Tuticorin Port Trust's Response to Prime Minister's Office's note (dated March 8, 2005) of reservation on SSCP

courtesy: www.sethusamudram.gov.in



Answers given to Prime Minister’s Office by the Tuticorin Port Trust (probably in late April – early May) and most likely to be responsible for gaining a clearance from it, has been released in the official website of Sethusamudram Project (www.sethusamudram.gov.in) on 30 June 2005.

(This response is most likely from Dr.P.Chandramohan of Indomer Hydraulics Pvt.Ltd., Chennai. It is noteworthy to remember here that he was an NIO scientist till 1997. In 1998 he had started his company ‘Indomer’.) (His company’s website: www.indomer.com )


It is also likely, that Prof.Victor Rajamanickam, who currently heads the Department of Disaster Management at SASTRA Engineering College, Tanjore (and who had been the head of of the Department of Earth Sciences, Tamil University, Tanjore till 2003 – when he left for SASTRA) would have contributed to this text; but it is felt, that, it is Dr.Chandramohan, who is its author)


This resonse was made public on June 30, 2005, that is 2 days before the inauguration of the SSCP at Madurai.

– www.sethunews.blogspot.com



Following is the full text of TPT's answers as published in its website


…………………………………………………………………………………………..

PMO Note

1. Subsequent to the Tsunami calamity, certain urgent technical issues have arisen regarding the SSCP which have been noted with alarm in responsible sections of the scientific community of the country



Tuticorin Port Trust Observations

PMO Note is the summary of an article titled " Pre- and Post Tsunami – Is the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project Technically feasible ? " which appeared in the Economic and Political weekly dated January -22, 2005.

The article is contributed by Dr. R. Ramesh, M.B., B.S., who is a medical professional. His expertise in the complex phenomenon of Tsunami and its impact is debatable. His readings on the subject of tsunami and the project region are limited as evident from the references cited by him.

There have not been any observations made by any scientist on the basis of scientific evidence except for some statements in the media attributed to Dr. Ted Murty, NRI Scientist about the need for reorientation of the channel entrance in the Bay of Bengal. This is dealt with separately.



PMO Note

2. The Tsunami waves which were generated on December 26, 2004 by an earthquake of 9 Richter magnitude off the west coast of north Sumatra traveled westwards and eastwards. The eastern wave was blocked by the Thai, Malaysian and Indonesian landmasses. A portion of the undissipated energy of this eastern wave was transferred to the western wave front traveling towards Sri Lanka and the Indian east Coast.

Tuticorin Port Trust Observations

Yes.

This is also supported by animation models generated in India and also outside.




PMO Note

3. Before touching Sri Lanka, the tsunami was traveling westward. When it struck Sri Lanka and the east coast of India, a clock wise wind was created with the Palk Bay as it hub. Had the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal been operational at the time of this tsunami, the currents in the Palk Bay and the associated turbulence would have damaged the canal considerably and would have caused a wide disposal of the dredged material placed at sea.

Tuticorin Port Trust Observations

A slide from an animation model by M/s. Indomer Coastal Hydraulic (P) Ltd., Chennai in association with M/s. Alkyon Hydraulic Consultancy and Research by the Netherlands is enclosed (slide 1) . This clearly establishes that Palk Bay and Palk strait were comparatively free from the turbulence caused by the Tsunami in the Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean. This slide is also supported by the animation model of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology , Japan (Slide 2)

In the case of tsunami, significant damages have been and will be seen only along the near shore beach areas because of resistance of near shore structures against the Tsunami passage. The very location of the Sethusamudram channel far away from the Indian or Sri Lankan coast pre-empts this possibility.

Scientists have also expressed the view that the channel situated in mid sea can not show any resistance displayed by near shore structures except for the possibility of bed scouring which may have the impact of increasing the depth of the channel as witnessed in Chennai Port.

Tuticorin Port, situated in the Gulf of Mannar and very close to the project region, did not experience any significant change in the bathymetry due to tsunami's impact.

If a clockwise swirl had indeed been created in the region with the Palk Bay as its hub ( as stated in the note but not supported by the animation models), such clockwise swirl would have taken the dredged materials placed at sea, proposed to be dumped in depths of about 20-30 M in the Bay of Bengal away from Palk Strait. A quantity of around 34.5 million M3 of dredged materials is proposed to be dumped in an area of about 25 Sq.KM, which will raise the sea-bed by an average of 1.4 M only. The clockwise swirl would have carried this deep into the Bay of Bengal, redistributing it over a very wide area making the impact of such redistribution, even if it would have taken place, insignificant in view of the wide area over which it would be redistributed and greater depths available North and Northeast of the proposed dumping location in Bay of Bengal

Therefore, there is no scientific basis for the apprehension that the shipping channel , if it were in place during tsunami, would have been damaged by the currents and / or associated turbulence. `Wide dispersal of the dredged materials placed at sea' would have had insignificant effect.



PMO Note

4. The SSCP is an off shore shipping canal project in the Palk Bay. It aims to shorten the distance navigated by ships sailing form the west coast and bound for ports on the east coast by avoiding circum-navigation of Sri Lanka. On the completion of the SSCP, ships would navigate through the Gulf of Mannar and Palk Bay and enter the Bay of Bengal directly

Tuticorin Port Trust Observations

Yes.



PMO Note

5. The total length of the canal in the Palk Bay is 152.2 Km. This is divided into three legs – the Southern leg in the Adam's Bridge area which is 20 KM, the northern leg in the Palk Strait area which is 54.2 Km and the central portion which is 78 Km in length. Dredging would have to be done in the southern and northern legs to dredge the shallow sea bed of the Palk Bay and Adam's Bridge to a depth of 12 metres in order to make navigation possible. The central leg does not require dredging as it lies the adequate depth of 12 metres.

Tuticorin Port Trust Observations

The statistics furnished in the Note are based on the Techno-Economic Feasibility Report prepared by the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, Nagpur in July 2004. The Detailed Project Report since submitted to the Ministry of Shipping, RT & H, has suggested some minor changes in the channel alignment on navigational considerations. The length of the proposed channel now is 167.57 Km , with the southern leg at Adam's Bridge area having a length of 34.92 Km, the northern leg in Palk strait 54.33 Km, and the intervening stretches of Palk Bay, not requiring any dredging, having a length of 78.32 Km




PMO Note

6. This is the first effort by the India to dredge a navigation channel, which is located 30-40 Kms off shore. It is also the longest sea bed dredging project undertaken by India.

Tuticorin Port Trust Observations

Yes.



PMO Note

7. The problems that will be faced by SSCP are expected to be

(i) problems due to sedimentation

(ii) problems due to tropical cyclonic disturbances and

(iii) issues related to dumping of the dredged materials

Tuticorin Port Trust Observations

Significant issues relating to the SSCP, which has a major dredging component, are :-

i.Sedimentation in the Channel which will determine the stability of the channel and maintenance dredging.

ii.Identification of dumping locations for dredged materials disposal with the objectives of -

a)minimising environmental impact to manageable levels and

b)ensuring that the dumped spoils do not re-enter the dredged channel.

Though the National environmental Engineering Research Institute had scientifically identified the dumping areas supported by modelling studies, further modelling studies were carried out by Tuticorin Port Trust during September 2004 – January 2005 with involvement of Alkyon Hydraulic Consultancy and Research bv the Netherlands for validation and verification of NEERI's findings, and for optimisation of distance to dumping locations. While validating NEERI's findings the studies have indicated the possibility of opitimising the lead distance. However, considering the environmental sensitivity of the project region, it has been decided to retain the dumping locations suggested by NEERI.



PMO Note

8. In order to tackle these problems, detailed information and knowledge needs to be gathered regarding sedimentation and cyclone disturbances in the Palk Bay

Tuticorin Port Trust Observations

Tuticorin Port Trust has carried out detailed wave modeling studies, tide and current circulation modeling studies, nautical studies and sedimentation modeling studies inter-alia analysing in-depth the sedimentation regime along the entire channel length.

As regards tropical cyclonic disturbances, " information on the normal wave conditions is required for further studies on sedimentation and erosion and to establish the limiting conditions for navigation through the channel. Information on the extreme wave conditions is required for the design of various structures, like groynes and bank protection," (Report of Indomer Coastal Hydraulics (P) Ltd., Chennai on Hydradynamic modeling and ship Maneuvering studies for the SSCP). Wave modeling studies of international standards, involving an internationally acclaimed organisation, have been carried out to meet these requirements.

The following findings of the modeling studies are relevant vis-a-vis sedimentation in the channel in Palk Bay / Palk Strait which the Note primarily deals with-

"Based on the computed sediment transports, it can be concluded that the incoming sediment volume (23,100 m3 ) is of the same order of magnitude as the transported sediment along the channel (32,500 m3). This would imply the following -

•At the shallow zone of Palk Strait, the channel depth will remain constant at CD (-) 12m (the incoming sediment volume from long shore transport approximately equals the outgoing sediment volume due to transports parallel to the ship channel). This implies that no maintenance dredging is required along this channel section (at Palk Strait).

•East and west of shallow zone, however, the transported sediment volume will deposit due to reduced sediment transport capacities. The deposited sediment volume equals to 32,500 m3/y."

The relevance of the findings is two-fold:

(i) Detailed field investigations/ modelling studies have been carried out in the project region.

(ii) There will be very little sedimentation in the channel in Palk Strait, compared to other approach channels in the country.

The general philosophy followed worldwide in designing an off shore structure is that predictions about the ocean environment have to be made first, ideally based on the history of the environment for 'hundreds of years of data' (A.K.Malhotra – "Ocean Science and Technology" p 32, 1980)". "In actual fact, the data for a particular location usually cover a much shorter period and, therefore, are a poor basis for predicting the future from the oceanographer – statistician's point of view. Despite this, valid operating and design values can be obtained by one of several methods" (A.K.Malhotra). This is normally done through predictive modelling, as carried out by Tuticorin Port for SSCP.

The issues relating to cyclonical disturbances are discussed in Section 12.



PMO Note

9. Palk Bay is one of the major permanent sediment sinks of India. In a study entitled " Littoral Drift Sources and Sinks along the Indian Coastal by Chandramohan and others in 2001, the sea depth reduction due to sedimentation in the Palk Bay has been estimated to be 1 cm per year Marine and riverine sources contribute to these sediments. In a publication entitled " Rapid Land Building Activity along Vedaranyam Coast and its Possible Implications" brought out by Ramasamy and others in 1998, the sediment building activities due to sea currents in the Vedanarayanam-Jaffna peninsular stretch of Palk Bay has been estimated to be 29 metres per year. Similarly in another study on the Sethusamudram Canal published by Rajamanickem in 2004, the sedimentation rate has been estimated to be 24 cms per year in the Manamelkudi area of Palk Bay

Tuticorin Port Trust Observations

The Note refers to findings reproduced in some research papers which are based on micro-regional studies or application of mathematical formulae.

The study of Rajamanickam has been mentioned. Rajamanickam says in his paper – "Sethusamudram Canal: The life line of Tamilnadu" (National Seminar on Ecological balance and Sethusamudram Canal, 1-3rd October, 2004, Department of Oceanography and Coastal Area Studies, Alagappa University), that "it is interesting to see that the maritime surveys conducted between 1960 and 1986 reveal the change of contour to the tune of 6m shallowness in the Palk Strait. That shows that around 24 cm per year is being silted off in the Strait." The Note only quotes this part of his observation but fails to add that he has actively supported the construction of the navigation channel to remedy his natural phenomenon. In his paper, Rajamanickam visualizes "the merger of this two (spit from Thalaimannar side in Sri Lanka and spit from Manalmelkudi in India) within the next 50 years. Once these spits join, the Palk Strait will become into two lagoon of the north and south. The flushing of waters from Gulf of Mannar to Bay of Bengal will be stopped". He has further opined -"Because of such ocean circulation, Tamil Nadu is getting monsoonal rainfall. The day siltation initiated, one must have observed the drifting of cyclones and low depressions to Nellore and Orissa.

Slowly the quantum of rainfall in Tamil Nadu and the order of cyclones in delta region have been in the decreasing order. If the flushing is completely stopped, the monsoonal winds and ocean circulations may not be directed through this Strait. If such action takes place, Tamil Nadu may not get proper rainfall and subsequently the granary of rice, the Cauvery deltas will become a desert by the turn of this century.

The moment, Sethusamudram Canal is brought in force, that Canal may become the draining canal first for all the silts dumped along the coast of Palk in the past. There is every possibility to retrieve back the clear water and comparatively deeper shelf in many areas. Such increase of depth and clarity of water may enable the delicious fish varieties to get more populated and fishermen in this region can do the fishing right in front of the hamlets as in the case of 19th century. The per capita income of the fishing community of nearly 40,000 people may go up many times. The delta region may get good rainfall and may plan to go for cultivation without the dependence of Mettur water. In the beginning, the Sethusamudram Canal may face frequent dredging due to the sliding of the silts dumped earlier. In few years this will be settled. The fear complex developed among the fishing community is baseless. Instead of loosing their fishing and trawling, they will get more catch due to the International navigation as in the case of Panama.

Therefore, scientific evidence is being cited against the project when the scientist who has produced such evidence goes on to say in the same research paper that the scientific evidence leads him to believe that an environmental and ecological disaster is waiting to happen unless the Sethusamudram Ship Channel is urgently created to provide a draining canal for the silt in Palk Bay/Palk Strait.

For a dredging project involving creation of a navigation channel, sedimentation in the project setting and in the channel as a result of sedimentation regime in the area need to be studied. In the case of SSCP,, sedimentation transport rate along the channel and long shore sediment transport across the channel need estimation for computation of annual maintenance dredging requirements. Such estimation has been done in the past (earlier studies) through modelling and radio-active tracer analysis. Tuticorin Port Trust has carried out sedimentation modelling in the project area involving a world-renowned organisation which has clearly established that sedimentation transport rate along and across the channel is insignificant.



PMO Note

10. Those findings indicate that there are specific regions in Palk Bay where the annual sea depth deduction is 25-75 times higher than the average value proposed by Chandramohan etc. for the entire Bay. The two legs of the SSCP where dredging is required happen to cross two such micro regions with high sedimentation rates.

Tuticorin Port Trust Observations

The legs of the SSCP where dredging will take place pass through two micro regions with high sedimentation rates – Adam's Bridge and Palk Strait. This prompted Tuticorin Port Trust to commission further modeling studies to verify and validate NEERI's findings. The modeling studies have led to reliable estimation of sediment transportation rate along and across the channel in these regions.



PMO Note

11. The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project carried out by the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) has not taken into account the sediment contribution from the rivers flowing into Palk Bay. This study does not pinpoint the sediment source for about 99.4 % of the total sedimentation volume.

Tuticorin Port Trust Observations

While undertaking the EIA Study NEERI have generated primary data in addition to relying upon secondary data. Primary data has also been used by them for validation of Secondary data. They had also carried out mathematical/ simulation studies. Tuticorin Port Trust, in its endeavour to verify and validate NEERI's findings, had commissioned further modelling/ simulation studies.

P.Chandramohan et al (Littoral drifts sources and sinks along the Indian Coast, Current Science, Vol.81, No.3, 10 August 2001) in their study had estimated 0.3 x 1010 m3 sediment deposition in Palk Bay region, in an area of 117 km x 105 km over a period of 51 years. M/s.Indomer Coastal Hydraulics (P) Ltd. (of which Dr.P.Chandramohan is the Managing Director) have estimated sediment deposit of 32, 500 m3/y in Palk Strait part of SSCP, which will have a length of 54 kms. A comparison of the estimates is shown below:

1.Sedimentation capacity in the channel,

proportionate to estimate to

Chandramohan et at .

54x0.3x1010 = 77,569 m3

117x105x51



2.Sedimentation computed by

TPT modelling study

Along the channel-

Incoming sediment volume =23,100 m3 Outgoing sediment volume =32,500 m3

Across the channel-

Deposited sediment volume =32,500 m3 --------------------------

Total =88,100m3

==================

Therefore, the findings from the modelling studies compare favourably with results of research studies available for the area. The imputation that the studies do not pin-point the sediment source for about 99.4% of the total sedimentation volume appears to be based on the following

(i)Total sediment load computed:

58.8 x 106m3

by Chandramohan et al for entire Palk Bay

(117 x105 sq.km.)



(ii)Less net annual sediment transport :

0.2657 x 106m3

Computed by NEERI for Adam's Bridge area

(which has a length of 17 kms)



(iii) Less estimation made by Sanil Kumar et al for net littoral sediment

transportation:

0.095 x 106 m3 into Palk Bay from Nagapattinam coast.

Unaccounted, according to the Note

58.4393 x 106m3

The primary source of the sediments deposited on the beaches is the weathering of the land; the sediments are then transported through rivers to the ocean' (Chandramohan et al, 2001). It is also estimated that 'The quantities of materials contributed by head land erosion and aeolian transport are both less than 2 per cent of river transport' (Chandramohan et al, 2001).

Therefore, when the sedimentation due to littoral drift from the north (Nagapattinam) estimated by Sanil Kumar et al (2002) and the total sedimentation load for Palk Bay region computed by Chandramohan et al (2001 – Sanil Kumar was also part of this research group) are accepted as valid, the source of the difference is very clear-sediment contribution from the rivers. This is supported by the following excerpts- `Vaigai, Vaishali and Valryar rivers are the major sediment sources entering the palk bay region'. (Malik, T.C., Indian Journal of Marine Science, 1983-12,203-208). `Large amounts of sediments from the pediments are removed constantly by rainfall and carried by minor rivers and dumped into the Palk bay'.(Loveson et al, Sea Level Variation and its impact on Coastal Environment, ed Rajamanickam, 1990, PP159-178).

The studies carried out by the Project authorities are for the purpose of delineating the project setting in order to identify the environmental consequences of the proposed project, assess their impact, evaluate the environmental viability of the project and devise an Environmental Management Plan to minimise the environmental impacts. The findings of these studies are substantiated and supported by research studies of the region in which the project is situated.




PMO Note

12. Out of the 61 cyclones that have crossed the Tamilnadu coast in the period 1891-1995, 6 have directly crossed the Palk Bay. The Met Department considers the coastal stretch between Nagapattinam and Pamban as a high risk zone for tropical cyclones. A study entitled " Identification of Costs Vulnerable for Severe Tropical Cyclones – Statistical Evaluation" published in 2004 has named this coastal stretch as the most vulnerable to severe tropical cyclones among the many coastal regions of the Bay of Bengal. Studies on the pattern of movement of sediments during the cyclonic storms are not available at present. However, it is known that these storms have a tendency to transport sediments into Palk Bay from the Nagapattinam coast and from Gulf of Mannar

Tuticorin Port Trust Observations

'The most damaging oceanographic episode that coastal residents can face is a cyclone with a combination of wind, waves, surge and rain' (Antonio Mascarenhas, Current Science, Vol.86, No.3, 10 February 2004). An important prerequisite for sustainable development, therefore, is resilience towards natural hazards and elimination of disasters.

In terms of landfall, among the severe cyclones over a century, according to Mascarenhas, '55 crossed the coast of Tamilnadu, 69 hit Andhra Pradesh, 58 affected Orissa, 33 struck West Bengal.' Impacts of tropical cyclones have been and continue to be the most disruptive recurring events for the east coast of India. From available records, Mascarenhas concludes -

(i) Andhra Coast is the most vulnerable to several tropical cyclones. About 32% of the cyclones forming in the Bay of Bengal make landfall along this coastal state every year.

(ii) Orissa follows with 27%, Tamilnadu with 26% and West Bengal with 15%.

(iii) The Andhra Coast has been subjected to storms, with a highly significant increase in the mean frequency of severe storms incident on Andhra Coast after 1975 as compared to earlier periods.

(iv) Orissa is affected by the highest frequency of severe cyclones in October and November every year, with the highest probability (56%) of at least one cyclone crossing the coast and 1% probability of four cyclones crossing Orissa every year.

(v) In terms of storm surges, the West Bengal coast is highly vulnerable to attack by storm surges with heights ranging from 2-12m.

The coast of Orissa has witnessed maximum surge heights of 7 m. The Andhra Pradesh and Tamilnadu Coasts are vulnerable where observed surge heights are in the range of 1 to 6 m.

(vi) Andhra and Orissa are the most vulnerable to coastal inundations.

To summarise his findings,

(a) In terms of incidence of severe tropical cyclones, Andhra and Orissa are more vulnerable than the Tamilnadu coast.

(b) In terms of storm surges, West Bengal and Orissa coasts are highly vulnerable, while the Tamilnadu Coast is vulnerable.

(c) Andhra and Orissa are the most vulnerable to coastal inundations.

Therefore, absolute figures relating to Tamilnadu Coast need to be compared with the rest of the east coast. The statistics furnished in para 11 of the Note that `against the incidence of 61 cyclones on the Tamilnadu coast during the period 1891-1995, only 6 had directly crossed the Palk Bay' is also relevant in this context as in simple arithmetical language it conveys that the Palk Bay is less vulnerable to incidence of cyclones than the rest of the Tamilnadu Coast. The Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project was originally conceived by the British as early as in 1860 with the objective of providing sheltered passage to merchant and navy ships, sparing them from the vagaries of nature and to provide safe anchorage during the tropical cyclones normally encountered off the Tamilnadu Coast during the North East monsoon (October – December).

The Note cites the incidence of cyclones in the project area as the reason for reviewing the need for the project when the major ports of Visakhapatnam, Paradip and Haldia are situated in coastal areas more vulnerable to such incidence. So is Kakinada where a major port facility is coming up.

PMO Note

13. There are two previous records of tsunami destruction in this area. The first record is of an earthquake, which originated at the Car Nicobar islands on December 31, 1881. It had generated a tsunami in the Bay of Bengal that had been felt at Pamban. The second record is of August 27, 1883 when the Karkathova volcano of Indonesia erupted and created a tsunami that reached Nagapattinam.

Tuticorin Port Trust Observations

The experience of 26 December, 2004 showed that Palk Bay faced less turbulence caused by the tsunami than in Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean.

'Tsunami is basically a transient and pressure wave due to compression of fluid by the energy released during the process of earthquake or subducting movement of tectonic plates of earth. This can be surmised as the reverse process of water hammer in the pipe flow. In case of tsunami, the damages can be seen only along the near shore beach areas because of resistance of near shore structures against the Tsunami passage, whereas Sethusamudram Shipping Canal can not show such resistance except for bed scouring (Dr.B.Nagendra Kumar, Scientist, NIOT). He also says that redistribution of bed sediments in Palk Bay due to turbulence, if any, generated by the loss of tsunami wave energy, was a possibility and adds - 'if shipping channel had been present, these sediments would also have been redistributed along the channel as a part of instantaneous process; however, the subsequent over passage of tsunami at the Adam's Bridge and onslaught of higher tsunami energy must have generated high flushing flows along the shipping channel driving these redistributed sediments into Gulf of Mannar for next stage of redistribution at high speeds.'

The implications of these expert views are two fold -

(i) Only near shore areas and near shore structure are damaged by the tsunami wave energy

ii) The worst case scenario is that had the canal been in place on 26 December, 2004, it would have experienced bed scouring.

'The Hindu' of 27-02-2005 reports that Seismologist Arun Bapat has scotched rumours about another large temblor or tsunami. According to him, "Another earthquake of such a magnitude and another tsunami is next to impossible for the next 70- 100 years." The probability of occurrence of tsunami similar to that of 26-12-2004 may not be significant in the time scale of historical events. It is a moot point to consider whether the probability of occurrence of a rare event such as tsunami should affect development projects which normally have a life span of upto 50 years. In the DPR for SSCP an economic life of 30 years is taken into consideration for financial analysis.

" The significance of a net work of canals and drains, in addition to tidal creaks, within the low lands of East Godavari District need to be noted. Such inter-linked drainage systems have alleviated the impacts of storms by receiving, accommodating and returning surge waters back into the sea" (Antonio Mascarenhas, 'Oceanographic validity of buffer zones for the east cost of India: A hydro-meteorological perspective,' Current Science, Vol. 86, 3, 10 February, 2004). On 26.12.2004 and also the succeeding days, it was reported that the River Cooum in Chennai accommodated the excess water from Marine incursions caused by the tsunami. By the same scientific evidence, the SSCP should prove to be a boon in the event of surges caused by severe cyclone and tsunami. The observation made by Rajamanickam (see para 9) that SSCP is urgently needed to provide a draining canal for Palk Bay is also relevant in this context.



PMO Note

14. Finally, specific dump sites for dredged materials have been identified only for 8.5 to 9.5 per cent of the total dredged spoil. The exact dumping sites for 90.5 to 91.5 percent of the dredged material are not known. Similarly, information about the nature of the dredged spoil is also lacking. This information is available only for about 38.5 -10.6 per cent of the total dredged spoil.

Tuticorin Port Trust Observations

Specific dumping sites have been identified and delineated in NEERI's EIA Report in Bay of Bengal, and in the Gulf of Mannar, for dumping of dredged materials from Palk strait and Adam's Bridge respectively, contrary to what is stated in the paragraph. NEERI had also conducted modelling studies for predicting dispersal of deposited materials in the Gulf of Mannar. Tuticorin Port Trust has conducted further studies which have not only validated NEERI's proposals, but also suggested possible relocation of the dumping site in Gulf of Mannar nearer the dredging location, which has not been accepted by Tuticorin Port Trust in view of ecological sensitivity of the region. The option of reclamation of about 750 ha. of land in Dhanuskhodi island, lost during the 1964 cyclone, at an additional cost of Rs.100 cr. app. is retained. The paragraph alludes to the estimated quantity of about 7 million.m3 required for reclamation of this area only, when it states that specific dump sites have been identified only for 8.5 to 9.5 % of the total dredged spoil

Information about the nature of the dredged spoil has been furnished in NEERI's Report both for Adam's Bridge area and Palk Strait. Data from earlier reports, sub-bottom profiling and borehole data generated by NEERI etc. provided the basis of such information Tuticorin Port Trust has carried out, through the NIOT, more detailed and sophisticated sub-bottom profiling of the project area, vibro-coring in 44 locations and boreholes to further refine the project proposal.


PMO Note

15. Thus, there are huge gaps in the current status of knowledge about the sedimentation regimes existing in the various micro regions of Palk Bay. Knowledge about the effects of tsunamis and cyclones on the dredged material and on the SSCP is also incomplete. The Environmental Impact Assessment and the Technical Feasibility Report prepared by NEERI have ignored these aspects. Yet, the SSCP authority has applied for a no objection certificate from the Ministry of Environment & Forest and the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board.

Tuticorin Port Trust Observations

(i) Sedimentation regime in Palk Bay/Palk Strait has been studied through field studies and modelling studies as adequate and relevant for the project setting and for reliable estimation of maintenance dredging requirements.

(ii) Tsunami and tropical cyclones impact the coast through changes induced by them in wave regime, currents and winds. Modelling studies have produced more than adequate data to examine the impact of extreme conditions on the project, especially on the stability of the channel, net sedimentation, navigability and downtime etc.

(iii) All necessary studies as per international requirements have been carried out by the project authorities to ascertain the environmental viability and technical feasibility of the project.




PMO Note

16. Going ahead with the construction of this mega project without collecting information on the above aspects could lead to major economic, technical and human problems in future that could border on a disaster. It is, therefore, advisable that he project authority for the SSCP should first look into these specific aspects and give their detailed comments thereon. If the project authority feels that these aspects have been adequately taken care of, they should provide convincing and substantial evidence to that effect that will withstand the scrutiny of the scientific community at large.




Tuticorin Port Trust Observations

(i) Sedimentation regime in Palk Bay/Palk Strait has been studied through field studies and modelling studies as adequate and relevant for the project setting and for reliable estimation of maintenance dredging requirements.

(ii) Tsunami and tropical cyclones impact the coast through changes induced by them in wave regime, currents and winds. Modelling studies have produced more than adequate data to examine the impact of extreme conditions on the project, especially on the stability of the channel, net sedimentation, navigability and downtime etc.

(iii) All necessary studies as per international requirements have been carried out by the project authorities to ascertain the environmental viability and technical feasibility of the project.


................................................................................................................................................

Wednesday, June 29, 2005


Sethusamudram Shipping Canal would be dangerous in its present form

Dr.R.Ramesh


The idea to have Sethusamudram Shipping Canal is one and a half centuries old. British Raj, Government of India, Government of Tamil Nadu and the Ministry of Shipping have taken initiatives to study the feasibility of the canal at various times. However, all these studies had been of a general nature and none of them, including the current study by National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Nagpur, have attempted to produce a technical feasibility study that is scientifically consistent.




Tuticorin Port Trust and the Ministry of Shipping claim that NEERI’s study is perfect scientifically. They also claim that the Hydrodynamic Modeling Study for the canal by Indomer Hydraulics Pvt. Ltd., done in the year 2004, proves that there would not be any damage to the coastal environment of India or Sri Lanka. They also assert that the computer simulation model of the December tsunami by Kenji Satake of Japan proves that tsunamis do not have a negative impact on the region where the canal will be dredged. They also assure us that five institutions have been asked to study the movement of sediments in real time, when the dredging work will be going on, so that if anything negative shall happen, it could be corrected immediately.


All these arguments make us feel that everything is fine technically with Sethu Project; but when analyzed in depth, a picture that is exactly opposite emerges.


Sethusamudram Shipping Canal in its present form is scientifically inconsistent on seven counts:

1) NEERI EIA, the study that gives the project its scientific legitimacy, has ignored the studies available on the sedimentation pattern of Palk Bay completely and has not fixed the exact locations wherein the dredged material would be dumped - these studies are crucial for the economic and technical survival of project, as they will give us an idea of how much sediment should be dredged each season and also prepare us for a study that will tell us where the dumped sediments will move every season,


2) Subsurface geology has been studied only for the 20 kilo meter stretch of the canal in the Adam’s Bridge area; Nothing is known about the subsurface geology of the Palk Strait region, where the canal’s length will be 54.2 km; if the sub surface turns out to be rocky, the cost of the project will go up many folds, and the effect of blasting these rocks would cause serious damages to the Palk Bay environment; this is stated by none other than the Technical Feasibility Report prepared by NEERI,


3) The historical cyclone data for this region from the years 1860 to 2000 tell us that cyclones cross this region and its neighborhood once every four years; all these cyclones have been proven to cause severe erosion of the coastal stretch in the nearby areas and then dump the eroded material in Palk Bay and Adam’s Bridge area; NEERI’s EIA, however, has ignored the issue of cyclones totally,


4) Indomer’s ‘Hydrodynamic Modeling Study for SSCP’ has also ignored the issue of the impact of cyclones on the canal completely. Thus, we do not know, what will happen to the canal in scientific terms during the period of cyclones,


5) Kenji Satake’s tsunami simulation model has been accepted as correct by international tsunami authorities; this model describes tsunami propagation in general terms, but fails to give us a clear picture of tsunami wave action in Palk Bay area; Tsunami computer simulation models by Prof. Steven N.Ward of University of California, Prof.Aditya Riyadi of Pusat Penelitian Kelautan Insitut Teknologi, Bandung, Indonesia, WI-Delft Hydraulics, Netherlands and DHI Softwares, USA and Indomer-Alkyon describe to us graphically the way tsunami waves attacked Palk Bay on December 26th. It was the models by Steven, Aditya and DHI that had prompted International tsunami expert Prof.Tad.S.Murty to warn Prime Minister’s Office on January 30, 2005 about the possible negative impact of SSCP during the times of future tsunamis,


6) Post Tsunami Studies by Department of Ocean Development and Zoological Survey of India have indicated that Palk Bay has received huge amount of sediment during the tsunami; that means, the amount of sediment that should be dredged would be much higher than it was planned earlier; this is definitely bound to increase the cost of the project,


7) Without these baseline studies, merely collecting the sediment samples at various places by various agencies will not help either to protect the canal during the time of future cyclone/tsunami or to protect the nearby coastal environment from the unexpected movement of the dredged dumps.


It is an international norm that offshore projects like SSCP should undertake a thorough scientific analysis of all the factors that would turn out to damaging to the stability of the canal at the planning stage itself.


The proponents of SSCP have not undertaken such a thoroughgoing study, in spite of having been warned by eminent geologists like Prof. C.P.Rajendran or Prof.Tad.S.Murty of the deficiencies found in their studies. The March 8, 2005 note from none other than PMO had highlighted all these issues. However, the project proponents have not felt it necessary to come out with an open and transparent - one to one answer to every question raised in the PMO note.


The proponents of the canal should have planned the right meticulous way, as they plan elsewhere in other parts of the world. Merely signing an MOU with Suez Canal Authority in the final days is really funny and will certainly not protect the canal from the existing high risk factors. Only consistent studies can make the idea of a reliable canal a real possibility.


Undertaking the project in the present form, it is felt, would turn out to be disastrous to the economy of Sri Lanka and India and to their present marine environment.


References:


All the reference materials related with this article can be viewed and downloaded from the following links:

1. http://palkbay.wikicities.com

2. http://sethunews.blogspot.com

Article Coutesy: http://www.asiantribune.com/show_news.php?id=14911

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Mail from Dr.D.N.Seshagiri #

I would like to know whether NEERI or INDOMER have carried out any geotechnical studies on the stability of the excavated slopes of the dredged channel. These slopes will be under a head of water. What is the angle for the cut slopes provided in the design? How many benches? If so, width of the benches. Has it been checked for its stability? The cut slopes of the Panama Canal (both above water line and below) still pose stability problems. What about possible heaving of the bed of the channel? Should there be a slope failure or heaving of the bed, will they not creat surges (mini tsunami?)Kindly refer to my letter published in Deccan Chronicle (Chennai edition) dated 21.06.05 entitled "Flip Side"

D.N.Seshagiri, Retd. Director, Geological Survey of India.
23 - 06 - 2006, 9.28 am


Our Reply:

1. To our knowledge, NEERI , INDOMER or L&T Ramboll Consulting Engineers Ltd., (who have prepared the Detailed Project Report for SSCP) have not carried out the geotechnical studies on the stability of the excavated slopes of the dredged channel.

2. The studies (as far as we know from the NEERI EIA and the Executive Summary of the Technical Feasibility Report) that have been conducted so far are as follows:

a) Analysis of Hydrography data of Palk Bay - collected by NHO

b) Geological Strata along Navigational Canal in Adam's Bridge Area - Jet Probe Drilling study - NSDRC conducted this with the help of Indomer Coastal Hydraulics Pvt. Ltd., - (Please note:No study exists for Palk Stait area still)

c) ‘Hydro Dynamic Modelling and Ship Manoeuvring Studies for SSCP’ - This, probably has been done using "Cornell Mixing Zone Expert System (CORMIX)" software - by Indomer-Alkyon (This modelling as we have noted in our article, has not considered the real time events of Cyclones or Tsunamis) (NEERI EIA does not mention Indomer with respect to this study; however, it is likely that it was done by Indomer as sentences of the Hindu press report we had quoted in our paper on Indomer and the one that is in NEERI EIA are similar but with some manipulation! (Note 1)

d) Bathymetry and Shallow Seismic Survey in Identified area (for the Canal) in Adam's Bridge - 4 km X 20 km showing bathymetry less than 12 m was idenified for detailed bathymetry and Seismic Survey in Adam's Bridge area. Micro Bathymetry was also carried out in 4 Km X 4 Km - Conducted by ? Indomer Hydraulics or NIOT, Chennai (Please note:No study exists for Palk Stait area still).

3. Wih respect to the study on the Geological Strata of the identified area (for the canal) in the Palk Strait area, the following note, by none other than NEERI (in the executive summary of the TFR), is of great concern for everyone:

"The costs may face upward revision as it has been observed that in more than 50% of the dredging contract there has been very large cost overruns mainly due to poor soil investigation. Investigations carried out in this study are based on sub-bottom profile except for three borings in Adam’s Bridge and there is apprehension that hard strata will be encountered in Palk Bay/Palk Strait area. If bottom strata turn out to be rock, the dredging costs will change drastically, as blasting might be required." (Ex.Summ.NEERI TFR - p.xviii)


4. We share your concern that as the channel's slopes will be under the water head, a thorough study of them is necessary.

5. The channel will have side slopes of 1:3.




(Courtesy : Ex.Summ. NEERI TFR) (Note 2)

6. How many benches? - Nothing is reported in the published material available with us (EIA and Ex.Summ. TFR)

7. Yes. We agree. Slope Failiure or Heaving of Bed can not be ruled out till you have the consistent studies that prove otherwise.

8. Mini - sea surges (should we use the term tsunami here?) - is defintely a possiblity.

.......................................................................................................................................................

Note 1. The Hidu report says : "Tide/wind induced flow during various seasons, the wave propagation, (and) the sediment transport pattern remain similar with the same magnitude and direction after opening the channel for the region falling 500 metres away from the channel..."
At the same time, NEERI EIA tells us: " ...It can be inferred from these graphs that the effect of the sity water when discharged will be localised and restricted to about 1000 meter from the discharge point..." (NEERI EIA p-6.9)

Note 2. Executive Summary of NEERI's Technical Feasibility Report can be downloaded from the following link. Please find it at the attatchment section at the end of the article you see in the link. Click Here to access the link.


# Dear Dr.D.N.S!

We would be glad to have your letter to Deccan Chronicle titled "Flip Side" published here in this blog.

Please send it to : manisanga@gmail.com

Thank You

Yours Sincerely,

Dr.R.Ramesh

............................................................................................



Friday, June 10, 2005

Sethusamudram Shipping Canal would destroy the coastline stability of Sri Lanka and India.

......................................................................................................

Will the Sri Lankan expert committee wake up at least now?

R.Ramesh

Sri Lankan President Mrs. Chandrika Kumaratunga visited India recently. One of the issues taken up for discussion between her team and Government of India (GoI) was the issue of Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project. The experts who had accompanied her are said to have raised the issue of the negative impact of the Sethusamudram Canal on the Sri Lankan Coastline. To their queries, it is said, that the Indian authorities had provided clinching scientific evidences, which prove that Sethu Canal will not be damaging to the coastlines of either Sri Lanka or India. These evidences, it is said, had allayed the fears raised by the Sri Lankan experts. A discussion between the experts of the two countries is scheduled again in July.

One of the most important studies, shared by the Indian authorities with their Sri Lankan counterparts, is the ‘Hydro Dynamic Modelling and Ship Manoeuvring Studies for SSCP’ conducted by a Chennai based company called Indomer Coastal Hydraulics.

The Indian authorities are reported to have said that this study had concluded: “Tide/wind induced flow during various seasons, the wave propagation, (and) the sediment transport pattern remain similar with the same magnitude and direction after opening the channel for the region falling 500 metres away from the channel... Such findings imply that the dredging of the channel will not have any impact on adjacent coastlines on the Sri Lankan coast and further on any of the offshore islands or on the sand spits present across the Adam's Bridge. Hence the project will be safe to implement and it will not have any negative impact on the stability of the coastlines in Sri Lanka and India." (Ref. 1) (Note 1)

It is said, that the experts from Sri Lanka did not have any data to counter this particular conclusion. However, it was reported that GoI was prepared to consider any scientific evidence that GoSL may present in the future that go on to prove its apprehensions correct and was prepared to make the necessary technical modifications in the project. (Ref. 2)



Hydro Dynamic Modelling for SSCP by Indomer Coastal Hydraulics is a scientifically incomplete study.

Indomer Coastal Hydraulics (P) Ltd., is owned by Dr.Ponnambalam Chandramohan, an oceanographic expert and a former research scientist at National Institute of Oceanography, Goa, whose prime research interests lay in wave and sediment dynamics with respect to the stability of the Indian coastline. (Ref. 3).

Dr.Chandramohan’s prime works with respect to Palk Bay include: 1) the 1990 work completed with Sanil Kumar and Nayak ‘Wave Atlas for the Indian Coast based on Ship Observations, 1968- 1986’, 2) ‘Beach dynamics at Pudhuvalasai in Palk Bay’ studied in the year 1997 along with B.K.Jena and A.S.Murty, 3) ‘ Longshore Transport Based on Directional Waves Along North Tamil Nadu Coast, India’ written in 1997, and published in 2000 along with B.K.Jena and V.Sanil Kumar, 4) ‘Longshore currents and sediment transport along Kannirajapuram Coast, Tamilnadu, India’ published in 2000 with Sanil Kumar, V, Ashok Kumar, K. , Gowthaman, R. and Pednekar, P., 5) ‘ Littoral drift sources and sinks along the Indian coast’ published along with B. K. Jena and V. Sanil Kumar in the year 2001.

The 2001 study had actually calculated the annual amount of sediment getting deposited in Palk Bay. The paper had noted, “Any attempt to handle the coastal problems, either to arrest erosion or prevent deposition, requires a thorough understanding of the factors and processes involved in the coastal geomorphological system: the pattern of changes, the sources for the sediments supplied to the littoral region, the sinks acting as large-scale depository basin of the sediments and the volume and direction of sediment movement in the littoral zones.” It had further noted: “ Occurrence of cyclonic storm during north-east monsoon is common in the Nagapattinam–Poompuhar region, which causes an erosion along this region. The sediments are transported southerly and deposited in the Palk Bay. Low wave action inside the bay and protection from the southerly waves encourages the deposition of sediment.” It had also noted the presence of specific regions in Palk Bay, wherein the sediment deposition is far higher than other regions of the Bay.

It would be important to note here the conclusions regarding the impact of cyclones on Palk Bay as presented by 3 important research papers in which Dr.P.Chandramohan himself happens to be a co-author of two of the Papers. Among these three articles, two deal with the direction of the annual gross sediment movement from Nagapattinam coast and the third analyses the same from the Kannirajapuram coast. Let us quote their observations: “It is … observed that the occurrence of cyclonic storm during northeast monsoon which is common in the region would considerably increase the southerly drift and may cause the littoral drift material to deposit in the sink at Palk Bay. Such loss of material is one of the prime reasons for the erosion of the shoreline between Nagapattinam and Poompuhar”. “9 cyclonic disturbances have been reported or recorded in this (Kannirajapuram) region during 1891 to 1970.Out of this 7 have occurred in the months between October and December and one each in the months of January and March...The annual gross transport was found to be 0.15X106m3/year and the annual net transport was 0.12X106m3/year (toward northeast).” (Note 2)


The question now is, did the Indomer’s ‘Hydro Dynamic Modelling and Ship Manoeuvring Studies for SSCP’ take into consideration all the above factors noted in Chandramohan et al.’s 2001 paper? The answer is a definitive ‘No’. The reasons for this conclusion are two: 1) There’s no dedicated research available yet, on the interactions of cyclones that cross the region once in 4 years (Note 3 a) and their influence on the sedimentation regime of Palk Bay and nothing is known about the quantum of sediments contributed by these storms to Palk Bay, 2) Till this date, quantification of the sources for the sediments coming into Palk Bay have been done only for about 00.614% of the total quantum of sediments calculated so far. (Note 3 b)

Hence, we come to the conclusion that the results of Indomer’s “‘Hydro Dynamic Modelling and Ship Manoeuvring Studies for SSCP” could only be considered as partial and incomplete. We also note here that this model should be improved upon with further future dedicated researches on sedimentation pattern in Palk Bay during the times of Cyclones and Tsunamis.

Claiming a partial mathematical model as a scientifically complete one and proceeding with the dredging work for the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal based on its scientific strength might throw environmentally dangerous and costly surprises for both Sri Lanka and India in future.

Indomer-Alkyon’s tsunami simulation model reveals that Sethu Canal will be dangerous to both Indian and Sri Lankan Coastlines.



Indomer in collaboration with Alkyon Hydraulics of Netherlands has created a simulation model of the 2004 December 26th tsunami. (Ref. 4) (Note 5). Analysis of this simulation model yields some interesting results that happen to directly oppose the claim by the SSCP proponents that ‘the project will be safe to implement and it will not have any negative impact on the stability of the coastlines in Sri Lanka and India."

This simulation model reveals, like the simulation models created by Prof. Steven N. Ward, of the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics, University of California, Santa Cruz, USA and the one by Prof. Aditya Riyadi, of Pusat Penelitian Kelautan Institut Teknologi, Bandung, Indonesia (Note 5) that ‘the northeastern, central, eastern portions of Palk Bay received waves of higher energy and thus these areas remained more turbulent during the Tsunami. This means, the extent of sedimentation and thus the extent of damage to the marine ecosystem in this part of the Bay should have been much higher than the other areas of the Bay’. Incidentally, all these areas fall well within Sri Lanka’s territorial waters.

This simulation model points to us that the areas through which the most turbulent waves have entered Palk Bay both from North and South are the areas where the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal is to be located. It is this point that has been of concern for international tsunami experts like Dr. T.S.Murty. When he said Kerala would face destruction, what he actually meant was that drastic consequences were in store for the entire shoreline extending from Dhanushkodi to Ernakulam, and from the Delft Island to Colombo. (Note 6)

The steeply placed Palk Bay has actually shielded the above said shoreline from the harsh impact of the Tsunami waves approaching it from Bay of Bengal located in the northeast; but the deepwater route of the SSCP is about to destroy this protective shield.

SSCP has two acute bends in its course. These bends would obstruct the waves gushing through the canal, and thus there would be excessive sedimentation in the upper and lower courses of the canal. The impact of the high-energy waves on the bends would destroy these bends, thus paving way for the waves to enter the central portion of Palk Bay. Sediments carried by these waves would make the central portion of the Bay much shallower. Prior to the Tsunami, it was said that this 78 km stretch of Palk Bay would have had an adequate depth of 12 meters. Post-Tsunami, there has been no study on the changed depth of this region.

In addition to this, the Indian Department of Ocean Development’s (DOD) report on Tsunami damage, published in late March 2005, has documented that the sedimentation rate at the coral reefs around the Pamban Island had increased two-fold during the tsunami. (Ref. 5) A team of scientists from led by Dr.V.J.Loveson of the Council for Industrial and Scientific Research (CISR) New Delhi, studying placer deposits in the area, says an estimated 40 million tonnes of Titanium alone has been deposited in the entire stretch of 500 kilometer coastline hit by the Tsunami. (Ref.6) The Zoological Survey of India’s report talks about the consequences of excessive dumping of silt by the Tsunami on the Palk Bay Bay ecosystem. (Ref 7) Independent surveys conducted at Kodiakkarai, in Tamil Nadu, in January have revealed that the sea is now half its depth than what it was prior to the Tsunami. (Ref. 8)

All these studies reveal that the amount of material to be dredged would be far higher than the one estimated by NEERI in early 2004. The post tsunami simulation modeling studies have revealed that during cyclones and tsunamis, the canal has the potential to transport the sediments into Palk Bay at a far higher quantity and rate than it is during the cyclone – tsunami free periods.

It is in this context, the project proponents claim that the Sri Lankan experts on oceanography possess no data to counter the scientific validity of their argument.

Will the Sri Lankan experts present at least now, the tsunami simulation modeling results of the very agency that has done the mathematical modeling for SSCP to their Indian counterparts? Will they then ask GoSL to demand GoI to defer the project for at least now and take up the necessary scientific studies to make the project environmentally viable and friendly?

The Sri Lankan expert committee should act NOW! Waiting up till July, when the bilateral expert committee meeting is scheduled next, would not have any meaning since the dredging work would have already commenced (in the third week of June)!



References:


‘Sethu channel will not affect coastline: study’, The Hindu, 9 June 2005
Ibid.,
http://www.indomer.com/
The tsunami simulation model can be downloaded from http://www.alkyon.nl/Services/download.htm. Choose to download the simulation model with the file size of 15. 28 MB, as this gives a better picture clarity and coverage than the files with 8.28 and 1.89 MB sizes.
DoD’s report on Tsunami damage is available at the following link: http://ourmedia.org/node/12180
The Times of India, JANUARY 14, 2005
The Hindu, 22 April 2005, “Marine ecology of Bay of Bengal irrevocably altered by tsunami” http://www.hindu.com/2005/04/22/stories/2005042206081500.htm
Personal Communication, Dr.Senthil Kumaran, Coimbatore, Unpublished Report,


Notes:


1. It is interesting to note that the Indomer’s mathematical modeling study does not find a mention in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for SSCP done by NEERI. This EIA was published in May 2004. Indomer’s website records that this study was taken up in the year 2004. At the same time, the website does not claim that its mathematical modeling has considered the issue of December 26 tsunami with respect to its effect on SSCP. (Ref. 3) Hence, it is safe to assume that this is a study commissioned by the project authorities after the publication of the NEERI EIA but completed before December 26th 2004.
2. The research articles on Nagapattinam and Kannirajapuram Coast can be downloaded from the following link: http://ourmedia.org/node/12180
3. a) The data on cyclones in this region is available at R.Ramesh ‘R.Ramesh, “Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project and the unconsidered high risk factors: Can it withstand them?” pp- 42 -52
b) The annual sediment load = 58.8000 X 106 m3
The net annual quantum of sediment transported by long shore currents from the Nagapttinam coast into the Palk Bay = 00.0950 X 106 m3
The total net annual quantum of sediment transported by tides and long shore currents
into the Palk Bay fro Gulf of Mannar through Pamban Pass and Adam’s Bridge = 00.2657 X 106 m3
The net annual quantum of sediment for which the source is not yet pinpointed
(58.8000 X 106 m3 –(00.0950 X 106 m3 + 00.2657 X 106 m3 ) = 58.4393 X 106 m3
So, we are yet to have studies that pinpoint the source for 99.386% of the net annual quantum of sediment entering into the Palk Bay. Studies on the quantum of sediment transported in the Palk Bay during cyclonic disturbances are non-existent.
For a detailed discussion on this see R.Ramesh, “Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project and the unconsidered high risk factors: Can it withstand them?” (16 Nov 2004) pp –57 -63
The monograph can be downloaded from the following link: http://ourmedia.org/node/10647
4. The recreated zoomed version of the Indomer-Alkyon simulation model that shows just the Palk Bay region can be downloaded from the following link: http://ourmedia.org/node/16046
5. All these simulation models are available at http://manisanga.blogspot.com/
6. Article on the analysis of Dr.Tad S.Murty’s view is available at http://manisanga.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Is ignorance Bliss?

………………………………………………………………………………………………
R.Ramesh


In a strange and ironic twist, the Indian government has cleared the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project at the worst possible time, when scientific reports done by Indian establishments and others clearly indicate that the Palk Bay has been left reeling under the excessive stress caused by the December 26 Tsunami. These reports also suggest that the Tsunami has left most of the Bay’s biotic and physical resources partially or fully challenged. Regardless of this fact, the Indian ministry has decided to go ahead with the canal dredging work in three weeks time from now.

More ironically, this work would commence at the Palk Strait - a place least studied by the would-be dredgers or by the organization that had prepared the SSCP technical feasibility report. The estimated quantity to be dredged would be 12 to 13 million cubic meters initially. This amounts to 22 to 26% of the dredging work estimated for the Palk Strait area, or 13.6 to 16 % of the dredging work estimated for the entire project. That means that the first one seventh of the dredging work would be initiated within the next 20 days.

The Drama

The Indian Department of Ocean Development’s (DOD) report on Tsunami damage, published in late March, has documented that the sedimentation rate at the coral reefs around the Pamban Island had increased two-fold during the tsunami. A team of scientists from led by Dr.V.J.Loveson of the Council for Industrial and Scientific Research (CISR) New Delhi, studying placer deposits in the area, says an estimated 40 million tonnes of Titanium alone has been deposited in the entire stretch of 500 kilometre coastline hit by the Tsunami. The Zoological Survey of India’s report talks about the consequences of excessive dumping of silt by the Tsunami on the Palk Bay Bay ecosystem. Independent surveys conducted at Kodiakkarai, in Tamil Nadu, in January have revealed that the sea is now half its depth than what it was prior to the Tsunami.

The Indian government has not thought it important to consider the project’s viability in the light of the above studies. Also, it did not occur to Indian government that these study conclusions indicated that the total amount of material that has to be dredged now would actually be many times higher than the original estimate put forward by the project proponents.

Between 1891 and 1995, the Palk Bay and adjoining regions have witnessed as many as 23 cyclones – which means one cyclone every 4 to 5 years. Studies by Dr Sanil Kumar of India’s National Institute of Oceanography, Goa have indicated that during these cyclones, sediments get dumped in Palk Bay. In addition, the region has witnessed three Tsunamis (1881, 1883, 1941) prior to the current one. All these facts indicate that the amount of dredging that would be necessary would actually be many times higher than the amount estimated by National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Nagpur.

This irony came to the forefront in a news report published by The New Indian Express in its March 28, 2005 edition. The report said: “In an official note issued early this month, the PMO (Prime Minister’s Office) is said to have questioned risks from aspects such as sedimentation due to cyclonic disturbances and threats due to future natural calamities like the tsunami. These issues had not been covered in the environmental impact assessment by Nagpur-based agency NEERI. Its Director S Devotta told this website's newspaper that his agency had not received the PMO note. However, he agreed that NEERI had not covered the sedimentation issue because ‘we had asked the Tuticorin Port Trust to address this aspect with the help of another agency’’ Devotta also stressed that there was no thought on the possibility of tsunamis in this region when the assessment report had been submitted in August 2004. ‘That is why NEERI did not address a tsunami scenario in its study. After the tsunami, any ocean development project - not just the Sethusamudram project - would have to look into this new aspect,’ he conceded.”(emphasis mine).


So, here is a project, where the very agency which first calculated the amount of sediment to be dredged has now openly accepted that it had not studied the issue of sedimentation. The NEERI has also admitted that it had not considered the post-Tsunami scenario. What its director failed to tell the newspaper was that his agency had also not considered the issue of cyclones that frequent the region every 4 or 5 years.
However, the Indian Prime Minister’s Office had raised all these questions in its official press note dated March 8, 2005. With respect to this, The New Indian Express report dated 20 May, 2005 reported: ““However, post-tsunami, the plan landed in fresh difficulties, with the Prime Minister’s office reportedly questioning the environmental impact assessment (EIA) study by National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI). The PMO wanted fresh evaluation, as information about the effects of tsunamis and cyclones on the project had not been factored in and noted there were huge gaps in the current knowledge about sedimentation. Subsequently, a team of experts studied the project and made it clear that Gulf of Mannar would not face any threat from the tsunami in the future and the apprehensions expressed by the PMO were cleared.” (emphasis mine).
That makes this drama more interesting! The above-mentioned study by experts that had the power to clear earlier doubts raised by the Indian Prime Minister’s office on the project’s feasibility has been completed in a record time of 13 days (April 1-13). What NEERI was unable to achieve in its two years of study (13.05.2002 to 9.06.2004), this anonymous group of experts had accomplished in a matter of just two weeks!
The meaning of the Drama
Post-December 2004, three simulation models by Prof. Steven N. Ward, of the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics, University of California, Santa Cruz, USA and Prof. Aditya Riyadi, of Pusat Penelitian Kelautan Institut Teknologi, Bandung, Indonesia, have given a clear picture about the pattern of tsunami wave interaction with Palk Bay. These models have been confirmed correct by the data on tsunami waves received from JASON 1 satellite and also by the various post tsunami field surveys. These simulation models indicate that the northeastern, central, eastern portions of Palk Bay received waves of higher energy and thus these areas remained more turbulent during the Tsunami. This means, the extent of sedimentation and thus the extent of damage to the marine ecosystem in this part of the Bay should have been much higher than the other areas of the Bay. Incidentally, all these areas fall well within Sri Lanka’s territorial waters.

The above said simulation models have also indicated that the waves traveling into the Palk Bay both from north and south have a tendency to travel toward the eastern and central half of the Bay during tsunami. Dr. Usha Natesan of Anna University, Chennai has made a similar observation in 2002 from her study on the role of satellites in monitoring sediment dynamics. As stated earlier, all these areas fall within Sri Lanka’s territorial waters.

The NEERI’s bogus estimate on the amount of dredged material is not the only issue that should concern us. The Technical Feasibility Report (TFR) it had prepared along with the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) raises a still more serious issue. It states: ““The costs may face upward revision as it has been observed that in more than 50% of the dredging contract there has been very large cost overruns mainly due to poor soil investigation. Investigations carried out in this study are based on sub-bottom profile except for three borings in Adam’s Bridge and there is apprehension that hard strata will be encountered in Palk Bay/Palk Strait area. If bottom strata turn out to be rock, the dredging costs will change drastically, as blasting might be required.”(Executive Summary, SSCP TFR, NEERI, page XVIII, emphases mine).

Even for its bogus estimate of the amount of dredged material, the NEERI report had not identified specific dumpsites. With respect to this, consider the following assessment: “The total quantity of spoils that would come from capital dredging is supposed to be 81.5 to 88.5 X 106 m3. The quantum of dredged spoil that would come from maintenance dredging is supposed to be 0.1 X 106 m3 / year. Specific dumpsite has been identified only for 8.5 to 9.5 % of the total dredged spoil. Idea about the nature of the dredged spoil is available presently, only for about 38.5 to 40.5 % of the total dredged spoil. No idea exists at the present time on the nature of the dredged spoil that would be generated for 59.5 to 61.5 % of the total dredged material. We do not know the exact dumpsites for about 90.5 to 91.5 % of the dredged material.”

So where would they dump the material they would be dredging 20 days from now? With no consistent answer to this question, the project is getting ready for its launch.

Where would the dredged materials travel during normal times and during the times of cyclones and tsunami? As indicated by the studies of Dr. Usha Natesan, Steven N. Ward and Aditya Riyadi, they would be getting dumped in the Sri Lankan portion of Palk Bay. Blasting, if resorted to in Palk Strait, would sound the final death knell for the Palk Bay ecosystem.

The Tad S Murty puzzle

Dr. Murty is an expatriate Indian who had served as the chief editor of the reputed International Tsunami Journal “Science of Tsunami Hazards” for over two decades. He is considered as one of the leading scientists on tsunami in general and on the tsunamis of the Indian Ocean in particular. The Indian Prime Minister’s office invited him late this January for knowing his views on the establishment of the tsunami warning system for India. As he finished his briefing on the tsunami warning system for India he had something else also to share with the Indian authorities - that was on the proposed alignment of the SSCP with respect to tsunamis that the Indian east coast might be subjected to in the future. “I like this (Sethusamudram) project’, he said, ‘but there is a flaw. The entrance to the channel should be reoriented towards the eastern side. Otherwise, there is a chance that it may create a deepwater route for another devastating tsunami. This may cause huge destruction in Kerala.”

The average speed of the tsunami wave in the deep sea had been calculated to be around 800 to 850 km per hour. However, the speed with which it had moved into Palk Strait was astonishingly slow. It worked out to be just 30 km per hour. For Nagapattinam continental shelf, it was around 200 km per hour.
The simulation models of Steven and Aditya point to us that the areas through which the most turbulent waves have entered Palk Bay both from North and South are the areas where the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal is to be located. It is this point that has been of concern for Dr. Murty. When he said Kerala would face destruction, what he actually meant was that drastic consequences were in store for the entire shoreline extending from Dhanushkodi to Ernakulam, and from the Delft Island to Colombo. The steeply placed Palk Bay, it may be inferred from his statement, has actually shielded the above said shoreline from the harsh impact of the Tsunami waves approaching it from Bay of Bengal located in the northeast.
The deepwater route of the SSCP has two acute bends in its course. These bends would obstruct the waves gushing through the canal, and thus there would be excessive sedimentation in the upper and lower courses of the canal. The impact of the high-energy waves on the bends would destroy these bends, thus paving way for the waves to enter the central portion of Palk Bay. Sediments carried by these waves would make the central portion of the Bay much shallower. Prior to the Tsunami, it was said that this 78 km stretch in the project would have had an adequate depth of 12 meters. Post-Tsunami, there has been no study on this. And, with a canal that has the potential to transport high-energy waves from north and south during cyclones and tsunamis in place, this area will certainly become a candidate for dredging. This would also increase the amount of turbidity in Palk Bay considerably. With all this, the amount of material that has to be dredged would dramatically increase.

Thus, continued dredging in the total stretch of 152.2 km would become the order of the day. Increased, nonstop, unplanned dredging would destroy a sea having one of the highest levels of primary production in the world.

Conclusion:

The SSCP would probably be the only offshore project in the world in which the project planners have committed publicly that they have not considered the high risk factors and would go forward regardless of this fact. Even the worst tsunami that humankind has witnessed was unable to break the pertinent vow of the project proponents to remain ignorant of every environmental parameter capable of destroying the project’s viability.

Instead of concentrating on an analysis of the factors which indicate that the project is unviable, the project proponents have been busy constructing fictional discourses on its potential utility. Of course, the best fiction churned out has been the canal’s apparent ability to contain the threat posed by Sea Tigers led by Col. Soosai. The target of this born-to-win discourse was Congress president Sonia Gandhi, and true to expectations, this has achieved its instantaneous results. This discourse’s fictional force simply blew the realism of the Indian Prime Minister’s office and the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project is now well under way!

For the project proponents, ignorance is bliss. And the Indian external affairs minister Natwar Singh can be expected to make a case for this Orwellian sentence during his visit to Sri Lanka on June 9. It is for Sri Lanka to decide whether it is willing to be part of this fiction?

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Note: All the reference resource materials used in this article can be downloaded from the links in the lsat post.

I thank Mr.Ramesh Gopalakrishnan, London, for his help rendered in editing this article.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Further Reference Material on Palk Bay, Sri Lanka Fishing and Cyclones

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R.Ramesh

Here are the further references on Palk Bay, Sri Lanka Fishing and sediment movement in Palk Bay during Cyclones.

Download the articles from this link.

Download Aditya's simulation GIF movie on Tsunami Interaction with Palk Bay from here.

Download Steven N.Ward's simulation GIF movie on Tsunami Interaction with Palk Bay from here.

The earlier references can be downloaded from Link 1 and Link 2 .

More computer simulations on Tsunami and Palk Bay interactions can be viewed and downloaded from here.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

009.00

Movie in 3 dimension, depicting inundation by tsunami waves on the shores of South India and Sri Lanka

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Manimehalai Sangamitra

Movie source : Delft Hydraulics at http://www.wldelft.nl/gen/news/tsunami/index.html .

2D as well as 3D models of the December Tsunami inundation [both in AVI and QT formats] are available in the above site.

The 3 d movie in Quick Time format [985 KB] can be downloaded alternatively from here.

This is the only simulation movie available on the Internet that shows visually the tsunami waves in 3 d inundating the shores of South India and Sri Lanka. We see the inundating waves spreading from Mahabalipuram in the north, to Kodiakkarai and Palk Strait in the south.


The preliminary simulation that produced this animation shows the propagation of the tsunami starting at 01.00 hours UTC. In the deep ocean the waves measure tens of centimetres in height. In the coastal areas however, these relatively small waves can increase up to 4 to 10 meters depending on the local topography and bathymetry.


Areas hit by high flood waves are shown in bright colours. Yellow and red colours indicate the worst hit areas. The simulation is carried out using the Delft3D simulation package of WL Delft Hydraulics.

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mani_sanga

Friday, May 13, 2005

008.00
Animation Movie on the pattern of interaction of the December 26th Tsunami waves with Palk Bay
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Manimehalai Sangamitra


This animation is by Aditya Riyadi of Pusat Penelitian Kelautan Institut Teknologi, Bandung, Indonesia. Its original large format GIF file is available at http://www.ppk.itb.ac.id/aceh/simulasi-IV-2/simulasiIV-2.htm .The following simulation is just a small portion of the much larger area animated by Aditiya.





This animation is of much importance to Palk Bay studies. Unlike other animation models available to us [Steven N.Ward's model on Peak Tsunami Envelope is an exception; DHI software's animation is a partial exception], this animation gives us a pretty clear picture visually, of how the waves approached the continental shelf breaks adjoining Palk Strait and Adam's Bridge, and how they entered both these approaches leading into Palk Bay.

As I am in the process of making a detailed comparitive description of the pattern of tsunami wave interaction with Palk Bay as presented in all the three above cited models in my next postings, I invite you to view and download Aditiya's model [692.25 KB] from here.
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mani_sanga

007.00

The Will to Disaster

R.Ramesh

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MoE&F's amnesia on the post tsunami technical feasibility of the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project




The conditional clearance given for SSCP [ref 1] by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoE&F) recently has totally ignored the post tsunami debate [ref 2] on the technical feasibility of the canal. This article argues that such an attitude by MoE&F is bound to have long-term serious negative repercussions on the future economic, legal, ecological and social spaces of not only India but also of Sri Lanka.


The warning came from none other than Dr.Tad.S.Murty. Dr.Murty is an expatriate Indian who had served as the chief editor of the reputed International Tsunami Journal “Science of Tsunami Hazards” for over two decades. He is considered as one of the leading scientists on tsunami in general and on the tsunamis of the Indian Ocean in particular. The PMO had invited him late this January for knowing his views on the establishment of the tsunami warning system for India. As he finished his briefing on the tsunami warning system for India he had something else also to share with the PMO: that was on the proposed alignment of the SSCP with respect to tsunamis that the Indian east coast might be subjected to in the future. “I like this (Sethusamudram) project’, he said, ‘but there is a flaw. The entrance to the channel should be re-oriented towards the eastern side. Otherwise, there is a chance that it may create a deepwater route for another devastating tsunami. This may cause huge destruction in Kerala.” [ref 3]

PMO had asked the Ministry of Shipping and Surface Transport (MSST) for a clarification on this question in mid February. Tuticorin Port Trust (TPT) who is the proponent of the canal submitted its answer on 28 February. MSST submitted its answer to the PMO on 4 March [ref 4]. However, on 8 March PMO had released an unofficial note (probably based on two articles on this issue published by EPW and CURRENT SCIENCE, [ref 2] and on the opinion expressed in the press on this issue by the world renown paleao-seismologist Dr.C.P.Rajendran of CESS, Trivandrum) [ref 5] to the press where it had raised a number of questions related with the technical feasibility of the canal. In this note, PMO had in particular questioned the ability of the proposed canal to withstand future tsunamis and cyclones [ref 2]. The Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu had also echoed this note in her statement released on 29 March [ref 2]. However, Mr.T.R.Balu, the minister for Shipping had denied such a note having been sent to his ministry by the PMO and since there is no further communication from the PMO to his ministry after the first note, he said the issue of doubts on the technical feasibility of SSCP is once for all settled4. He however did not consider clarifying as to why the very director of National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), (that did the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the canal) had agreed in the public domain that the EIA done by his institute had not considered the issue of sedimentation [ref 6] and the issue of tsunami.

Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) had sent its report on SSCP late March. On receiving this report, MoE&F issued its clearance for the project immediately in the first week of April [ref 7] The clearance, strangely, had not considered post tsunami debate on the technical feasibility of the canal and the acceptance by the director of NEERI himself that the EIA done by his institute had not considered the issues of sedimentation and tsunami and thus by implication that the study was incomplete. Also, it had also not considered it necessary to analyze the project's feasibility in the light of the various proposals put forward by the "National Workshop on Formulation of Science Plan for “Coastal Hazard Preparedness” conducted by National Institute of Oceanography, Goa on 18 - 19 February 2005 [ref 8].


MoE&F's clearance has now allowed the SSCP to be placed in front of the Planning Commission and the Cabinet Committe for its final approval. The approval, it is said, is expected in another four weeks time (that is middle of May) [ref 9].

This article attempts a thorough scientific analysis of this issue of technical feasibility of the canal at the present time and the possible consequences of the Planning Commission and Cabinet Committee clearing the project without mustering clear, transparent answers from the project proponents for all the questions raised so far by experts in India and abroad.

SSCP Physiography

SSCP is an offshore shipping canal project in the Palk Bay. It plans to cut-short the distance navigated by ships originating from the west coast and bound for ports in the Indian east coast by avoiding circumnavigation of Sri Lanka. Ships would navigate through the Gulf of Mannar and Palk Bay and enter the Bay of Bengal directly.

Dredging the shallow seabed of the Palk Bay and Adam's Bridge to a depth of 12 meters in order to make navigation possible for ships drawing a draught of 9.15 or 10.7 meters is the central idea of the project. The canal’s width would be 300 meters. The total length of the canal in the Palk Bay is 152.2 kilometers. This is divided into three legs; the southern leg in the Adam’s Bridge area is 20 km, the northern leg in the Palk Strait area is 54.2 km and the central portion is 78 km in length. Dredging would be done in the southern and northern legs; the central leg does not require dredging as it has the adequate depth of 12 meters.

Navigation channels have so far been dredged in the East Coast of India only near the shipping ports. This probably is the first effort by India to dredge a navigation channel that is to be located 30 to 40 km away from the coast. This, again, is the longest seabed-dredging project planned so far in India.


Modeling Studies on the December 26th Tsunami

Dr.Tad.S.Murty's observation on SSCP is based on an in depth analysis of the various computer models proposed by tsunami experts around the world. There are nine models available so far. All of them are available in the Internet and are freely downloadable. They are:

1.Vasily Titov of the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL) at NOAA, USA
(http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2004/s2357.htm),

2.Kenji Satake-National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science & Technology - Japan (http://staff.aist.go.jp/kenji.satake/animation.gif ),

3. DHI Software Company-USA (http://www.dhisoftware.com/general/News/Tsunami/index.htm],

4.Baird Softwares-USA (www.baird.com ),

5. Steven N.Ward - University of California, (www.es.ucsc.edu/~ward/)

6.NIO-Goa, (www.nio.org)

7.Aditya Riyadi of Pusat Penelitian Kelautan Institut Teknologi, Bandung, Indonesia([http://www.ppk.itb.ac.id/aceh/simulasi-IV-2/simulasiIV-2.htm],

8.A.Pitanesi (INGV, Roma, Italia),

9. A.Yalciner, U.Kuran, T.Taymaz (Turkey) http://yalciner.ce.metu.edu.tr/sumatra/max-elev-sim-1.jpg

All the nine models agree on one issue- namely the increased wave heights experienced by the stretch extending between Hambantota on the southern tip of Sri Lanka to Palar Estuary located 70 km south of Chennai. This stretch includes the east coast of Sri Lanka, the whole of Palk Strait, the coastal stretch between Kodiakkarai to Palar Estuary.

Out of these nine models, the models proposed by Prof.Steven N.Ward, Aditya, and DHI Softwares give a clear visual picture of the wave patterns experienced by Palk Bay during the December 26th tsunami.

The First Tsunami Wave, Palk Bay and SSCP

Steven N.Ward's 'Peak Tsunami (wave) envelope height' animation model gives us the following important information. The first tsunami wave envelope embraces the continental shelf break of the Palk Strait at 1 hour 54 minutes after the time of onset December 26th Tsunamigenic earthquake (i.e. 6.29 am IST). This is 8.23 a.m IST. The wave height at this time is equal to or less than 0.5 meters. At 8.43 a.m the wave flows over the tabletop-like flat continental shelf of Palk Strait and reaches the stretch between Point Pedro of Sri Lanka and Nagapattinam of India [ref 10]. We note here that the wave has touched the northeastern tip of SSC's northern leg. The wave height at this time is between 1 to 1.5 meters. At 9.13 a.m the wave has reached the imaginary line drawn between Kankesanthurai and Vedaranyam. We note here that the wave now has embraced the northeastern tip of SSC for about 20 km. The wave height is now 1 to more than 3.5 meters. At 9.29 am, the wave has increased its height uniformly to around 3 to more than 3.5 meters and the wave has touched Kodiakkarai. By now, half of the northern leg of SSC has come under the tsunami wave. The wave entering the Palk Bay from Gulf of Mannar (located in the south), has just touched the southern leg (that is the Adam's Bridge portion) of the SSC. The wave height in this southern portion is from 0.5 to 1 meters at this time. From 9.30 am to 10.13 am the wave embraces the whole northern leg of SSC and also the coastal stretch between Kodiakkarai and Rajamadam. The wave height in this stretch at this time interval is between 0.5 to 1.5 meters. It is to be noted at this point of time, the wave prefers to enter the Palk Bay through the northern half of Palk Strait rather than the southern half of the Strait. In the Adams Bridge area, we note that the wave prefers to enter the Bay through the eastern half of the Bridge. At 10.23 am, we note that around 10 km of the southern tip of the 20 km long Adam's Bridge portion of the SSC has been occupied by a wave of 0.5 to 1.5 meter height. In the Palk Strait area the wave has encircled the northern tip of Sri Lanka and has embraced Manamelkudi, a spot known to be experiencing high sedimentation rates. We note at this point of time that around 20 km length of the middle 78 km of un-dredged portion of SSC embraced by a wave of 0.5 to 1.5 meter height. We see by 10.29 am (that is 4 hours from the onset of tsunami) the whole of Adam's Bridge portion of the SSC embraced by a wave of 0.5 to 1.5 meter tsunami wave, and half of the northern leg embraced by a wave of more than 3.5 meters height, and its remaining half and 20 km of the central un-dredged portion of the canal embraced by a 0.5 to 1.5 meter wave.

Aditya's model agrees with Steven N.Ward's model in every detail, but shows the movement of waves still more clearly. Both these models agree with the wave travel time model created by Vasily Titov of PMEL. The model by DHI Software, however, differs by about half an hour from the above models. The first wave of DHI is late by half an hour to reach the above-mentioned points. As for the pattern of movement of the waves, DHI's model agrees with that of the other models.

It will be of some importance to note here that the wave travel time model proposed by Vasily Titov is in conformity with Kenji Satake's animation model of the December 26th tsunami. Kenji's model had been confirmed correct by the JASON-1 Satellite imagery generatated during the tsunami itself.

The average speed of the tsunami wave in the deep sea has been calculated to be around 600 to 650 km per hour. However, the speed with which it had moved into Palk Strait is astonishingly slow. It works out to be just 30 km per hour. For Nagapattinam it is around 200 km per hour [ref 11].

It is this point that had worried Dr.T.S.Murty, when he said, "the entrance to the channel should be re-oriented towards (i.e., in) the eastern side. Otherwise, there is a chance that it may create a deepwater route for another devastating tsunami. This may cause huge destruction in Kerala.” By Kerala, he had actually meant the entire shoreline extending from Dhanushkodi to Ernakulam. The steeply placed Palk Bay [ref 10], it may be inferred from his statement, has actually shielded the above said shoreline from the harsh impact of the tsunami waves approaching it from the northeast direction1 [ref 11].


Post tsunami field surveys

Post tsunami field surveys undertaken in the south east coast of India Bay by various teams had revealed many interesting facts.

"A team of scientists led by Dr V J Loveson of the Central Mining Research Institute (CMRI), Dhanbad, has been monitoring the level of placer deposits on Tamil Nadu's coastline since mid 2003. The team had said huge deposits of Titanium had been deposited on the shores from Vedaranyam to Cuddalore stretch by the December 26th tsunami. They have speculated something like 40 million tonnes of Titanium to have been deposited in the whole 500 kilo meters stretch of the coastline that was hit by the tsunami. " [ref 12]. Let us note here that the north-eastern tip of SSC is located just 35 km south of Vedaranyam.

Post tsunami survey to detect tsunami wave run-up was conducted by Dr.Senthil Kumaran [ref 13] from Jan 15 to Jan 30, 2005. The survey covered the entire coastline from Ernakulam to Chennai. The survey had revealed some important facts:

The wave arrival time narrated by the people interviewed at Kodiakkarai coincided exactly with that of the wave arrival time indicated by the model proposed by Vasily Titov.

"The shore line of Palk Bay stretching from Muthupet to Pamban had not experienced much damage from tsunami. However, the shoreline showed some distinct features. Unlike the shore lines in other areas, this shoreline in its entirity was dumped with heaps and heaps of uprooted seagrasses."

The preliminary tsunami impact assessment report prepared by the Zoological Survey of India for none other than MoE&F has made the following remarks:

“ The seaweed and sea grass ecosystem between Rameshwaram and Kanyakumari have either been uprooted or submerged, ‘dislocating many associated organisms and changing the species composition’. The worst affected is the benthic ecosystem comprising the invertebrate animals. A huge population of sponges has been affected and animals such as crabs, lobsters and stomatopods displaced from their coral homes. The tsunami has changed the breeding area by dumping silt and debris and relocating the breeding population to other areas which may not be conducive to their survival. Also, increased water turbidity may lead to mass mortality of fish. The breeding cycle of marine turtles have already been affected and the loss of the sea grass which is the main food for the endangered mammals like the dugong may also lead to a change in breeding habitat’.” [ref 14]

These observations indicate the following: 1) The computer model of Vasily Titov should be considered objective, 2) the near shore continental shelf regions of Vedaranyam - Nagapattinam area have faced excessive sedimentation, 2) Palk Bay has experienced an event which has caused a total decimation of the sea grass bed of the bay.

Palk Bay has impeded the wave propagation considerably and hence the amount of sedimentation here should have been much higher than at the Vedaranyam - Cuddalore stretch. That the geomorphology of Palk Bay provides a conducive environment for excessive sedimentation is an established fact even before the current tsunami.

The large scale uprooting of sea grasses in Palk Bay should have been due to the excessive turbulence experienced by the bay during tsunami. The bay had experienced waves both from north and south. Such events had been noted in the bay earlier and 1964 cyclone is one such event. Following this event, it had been noted, that the sea cows (dugongs) inhabiting the bay and thriving on the sea grasses, had disappeared for almost two decades. They had returned to the bay again only in the late eighties. [ref 15]


Lessons and Questions

The foregoing discussion indicate to us three major points:

1. The presently proposed alignment of the northern leg of the canal might serve as a deep-water conduit to future tsunamis thus increasing the degree of tsunami risk to the coastal stretch extending from Dhanushkodi to Ernakulam.

2. Tsunami causes excessive sedimentation in the Palk Strait and Palk Bay.

3. Tsunamis and cyclones cause excessive turbulence in the bay thus causing extensive damage to the sea grass bed of the bay.


These points lead us to the following questions:

1. What would have been the effect of excessive sedimentation on the structure of the canal and on the stability of its dredge dumps?

2. What would have been the effect of increased turbulence experienced by the bay during tsunami on the structure of the canal and on the stability of its dredge dumps?

3. What would have been the extent of damage to the shorelines of Sri Lanka and India located south of Talai Mannar and Dhanushkodi had the canal been operational at the time of the December 26th tsunami?

Finding definitive answers to these questions are a must for ensuring the future stability of the canal and the shorelines around. However TPT, MSST, and MoE&F have not felt it necessary to consider or answer these questions.

It is strange as to why the MoE&F was not willing even to wait for the report of the preliminary study it had commissioned to the Zoological Survey of India on the effect of tsunami on the marine ecology of Bay of Bengal!


Implication of the post tsunami findings on the pre tsunami studies on Plak Bay

Pre-tsunami studies on Palk Bay have indicated some specific pertinent issues related to Palk Bay. They are:

1.Palk Bay is a shallow sea located on a continental shelf region whose average depth is just 6 to 10 meters. Depth of Bay of Bengal located in the northeast is 2000 meters, and depth of Gulf of Mannar located south is 500 to 1000 meters.

2. It is one among the five major sediment sinks of India. In its capacity as a major sediment sink, it is responsible for maintaining the stability of the shorelines around [ref 16].

3. Even though Palk Bay is a unique geographical locale, it is made up of many micro regions that differ from each other by the amount of sedimentation they experience. Some areas experience very high rates of sedimentation than other areas. Incidentally, the two legs of SSC that are to be dredged fall in areas of higher rates of sedimentation [ref 17].

4. Palk Bay is an area identified as highly prone to tropical cyclones. They have caused large-scale damages in this area in the past. Out of the 61 cyclones that have crossed the Tamil Nadu coast in the period between 1891-1995 A.D., 6 have directly crossed the Palk Bay; 14 have crossed the Nagapattinam coast; 3 have crossed the Gulf of Mannar. Based on the storm surge values (3 to 5 meters), India Meteorological Department considers the coastal stretch between Nagapattinam and Pamban as a High Risk Zone to tropical cyclones [ref 17]. The 1964 December 23 cyclone had produced a storm surge of 6 meters [ref 18]. Based on the degree of uncertainty in the prior prediction of cyclones Sutapa Chaudary et al (2004) have named this coastal stretch (and that of Bangladesh) as the most vulnerable ones among the many coastal regions of the Bay of Bengal, for Severe Tropical Cyclones [ref 19].

5. It has been identified that the sediments have a tendency to move toward Palk Bay both during the normal times as well as during the times of cyclones [ref 20].

The preliminary post tsunami studies available so far on the effect of tsunami on Palk Bay have not contradicted any of the above pre-tsunami conclusions. They have once more affirmed the demand by the scientific community that all the above said issues should be studied in depth before taking up any major project in the area.


The SSC Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in the light of above findings

Chandramohan et al.,16 have calculated the total annual sediment load for this sink as 58.8000 X 106 m3. This sediment load is said to cause a sea depth reduction of 1 cm/year. Marine and riverine sources contribute these sediments. Small rivers draining into Palk Bay in the Sri Lankan and Indian coasts, longshore currents from Bay of Bengal in the north and Gulf of Mannar in the south transport these sediments into the Palk Bay. Sanil Kumar et al., 20 have calculated the net quantum of littoral sediments entering into the Palk Bay from the Nagapattinam coast as 0.095 X 106 m3. The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for SSCP by NEERI has calculated the net annual sediment transport by long shore current and tides in the Adams Bridge area as 00.2657 X 106 m3(Ref 14). The sediment contribution from the rivers is yet to be calculated. These studies indicate that we are yet to pinpoint the sediment source for about 58.4393 X 106 m3 (i.e.99.386%) of the total sedimentation volume as indicated by Chandramohan et al.’s study.

The total quantity of spoils that would come from capital dredging is supposed to be 81.5 to 88.5 X 106 m3. The quantum of dredged spoil that would come from maintenance dredging is supposed to be 0.1 X 106 m3 / year. Specific dumpsite has been identified only for 8.5 to 9.5 % of the total dredged spoil. Idea about the nature of the dredged spoil is available presently, only for about 38.5 to 40.5 % of the total dredged spoil. No idea exists at the present time on the nature of the dredged spoil that would be generated for 59.5 to 61.5 % of the total dredged material. We do not know the exact dumpsites for about 90.5 to 91.5 % of the dredged material [ref 17].

EIA and the Technical Feasibility Report (TFR) are the two tools based on whose scientific strengths the Ministry of Environment and Forests accepts or rejects a project. The NEERI EIA and TFR for SSCP had ignored the issues of sedimentation, cyclones and tsunami in their entirety. Even the director of NEERI had accepted this in a recent press interview openly. Strangely, MoE&F had chosen to give its clearance for the project even though the project’s EIA and TFR are incomplete.



Indian study initiatives on the December 26th tsunami

NIO, Goa has given a model of tsunami wave propagation in February 2005.

An oceanographic expedition to tsunami-affected areas was mounted on 15 January 2005 utilizing the services of the multidisciplinary ocean research vessel, ORV Sagar Kanya, the flagship of the country involving participation of oceanographers from NCAOR and NIO, Goa and NIO, Regional Centre (RC), Visakhapatnam, NPOL, Kochi and NORINCO, Chennai. It ended on 21 February thus lasting 37 days. Its preliminary report has been published in CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 88, NO. 7, 10 APRIL 2005.

NIO along with Department of Science & Technology (DST), Department of Ocean Development (DOD), Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Indian National Science Academy (INSA) had conducted on 21 and 22 January 2005, a brain storming session on the issue of disaster management in the coastal areas with respect to cyclones and tsunamis. Indian and international experts in tsunami, cyclones, oceanography and geology had participated in this session. Following this session, NIO along with the other above said departments had organized a “National Workshop on Formulation of Science Plan for” Coastal Hazard Preparedness” on 18 - 19 February 2005. Various Indian and International experts attended this workshop again. Incidentally, NEERI had sent its representative to attend this workshop.

This workshop had noted the following: “India has a long coastline (~7500 km) and a large Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) (~2 million sq. km.) that includes two major groups of islands, all of which are susceptible to different coastal hazards. Peninsular India comprises of nine populous states, with a significant component of their economy in some way related to the sea. This includes fishing, shipping, ports and harbors, tourism and allied industries. The last few years have also seen new investment being made in our coastal zone (on the continental shelf and slope) for oil and gas exploration. The investment - over US$ two billion per year by some estimates - involves construction of platforms, pipelines, and other structures. These could eventually become a critical component of the national economy. With these new developments also come new threats: while these offshore structures are vulnerable to storm surges or tsunami or submarine mudslides, they are also a potential source of oil spills, which too constitute a hazard affecting fisheries and coastal environment

Engineering solutions for control and remediation are important where and when the cheaper and less intrusive natural methods are ineffective. With exploration for oil gaining momentum, offshore structural engineering is gaining importance. The potential threat to such structures from submarine mudslides necessitates engineering design solutions to mitigate the impact. Since poor quality of construction has been identified as one of the causes of higher fatalities due to natural hazards in India, quantification of these hazards must also lead to better regulations and viable building codes.”

However, MoE&F had refused to consider the results of all these research and policy initiatives while rushing a clearance for SSCP.


International initiatives in risk assessment

There are 3 records of past tsunamis that had affected Palk Bay. They are the tsunamis of 31 december1881, 26 August1883 and 26 June 1941.

The 1883 tsunami had been studied in detail by Prof.Byung Ho Choi of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Sungkyunkwan University, Suwon, Korea. He was here in India this January to study the December 26th tsunami run up. His study along with Prof.Siripong titled "When the Sea Strikes Back: The December 26, 2004 Earthquake Tsunami of the Indian Ocean - Post Runup Survey" is to be presented in the Workshop on Indonesian Ocean Tsunami 2005 and the 13th PAMS/JECSS Meeting to be held at Bali, Indonesia, in 13-15 July 2005.
MoE&F should have directed the TPT to consider the implications of all these studies on the long-term stability of the canal. Instead of this, it had issued a clearance for the project in much haste.


Conclusion

MoE&F is the top environmental regulating body in India. It is responsible for scrutinizing the scientific credentials (with respect to environment) of all the major projects coming up in India. In the case of Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project, we see this body faltering in its job as a scientifically informed regulator. Steps to correct this flaw should now be undertaken by the PMO, Cabinet Committee and the Planning Commission. Without this corrective step, it is felt, that the project might turn out to be a failure in all its aspects. Such a failure has the potential to cause great hardship to the economy, environment and the social fabric not only of India but also of Sri Lanka. It would also turn out to be a perfect negative example for all the future EIAs in India. The project’s failure might also cost India its honor as a developing nation that has the technological potential to become a developed one by the year 2020.


References:


1) The Hindu 9 April 2005

2) EPW, 22-28 January 2005, Current Science 2 February, 2005, The New Indian Express 9 March 2005, The New Indian Express 29 March 2005, The Hindu 30 March 2005

3) The Telegraph India, 29 January 2005

4) Dina Thanthi 31 March 2005

5) PTI, 27 December 2004

6) The Hindu 25 March 2005

7) The Hindu 7 April 2005

8) www.nio.org
http://www.nio.org

9) The Hindu 10 April 2005

10) For a 3 dimensional model of Palk Bay based on Prof.Sandwell’s (of Scripps Institute of Oceanography) satellite bathymentric data see:
http://southindiatsunami.blogspot.com

11) This point is proved by the data on the run-up heights published in: R.K.Chadha, G.Latha, Harry Yeh, Curt Peterson, Toshitama Katada, “The tsunami of the great Sumatra earthquake of M 9.0 on December 2004 – Impact on the east coast of India”, in Current Science, Vol.88, No.8, 25 April 2005

12) The Times of India, JANUARY 14, 2005

13) Dr.Senthil Kumaran, Unpublished Report

14) The Hindu, 22 April 2005, “Marine ecology of Bay of Bengal irrevocably altered by tsunami”

15) NEERI, EIA for Proposed Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project, May, 2004, p.3.63

16) Chandramohan, P., Jena, B.K., and Sanil Kumar, V., ‘Littoral drift sources and sinks along the Indian coast’, Current Science, Vol. 81, No. 3, 10, 2001, p-295

17) Ramesh, R. ‘Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project and the unconsidered high risk factors’, at http:\\www.geocities.com\sethushipcanal

18) Jeyanthi, N., “Cyclone Disaster Risk in Coastal Region”, in ‘Cyclone Disaster Management’ National Interactive Workshop held at Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, February 25-26, 2002.

19) Chaudhuri, S., Chattopadhyay, S., ‘Identification of coasts vulnerable for severe Tropical Cyclones - Statistical Evaluation’, Mausam, 55, 3 (July 2004), p. 502-507

20) Sanil Kumar, V., Anand,NM., and Gowthaman,R., ‘Variations in nearshore processes along Nagapattinam coast, India’,Current Science, Vol. 82, No. 11, 2002, p-1381 - 1389


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