Bay of Bengal Oil Blocks

Sunken Lands Speak Dangers Ahead


53-b,Calve Subburayar Street, Puducherry 605001 India Tel: +91-413-2221025 web: email:

Hon’ble Tamilnadu Chief Minister Dr.J.Jayalalithaa Government of Tamilnadu Respected Madam Subject : Interlinking of Rivers in changed geo-political scenario..


British could interlink India with Rail link, but now the UN project to interlink all continents through rail link remains a dream. In Bering Straits a land bridge would have linked all continents. In India too we have been toying with a rail link from Vietnam to London through Delhi of course this UN dream project had made news when Lallu Prasad was Railway Minister. Like these dream projects in India we have been talking about interlinking of rivers. If Government of India had initiated this project when K.L.Rao mooted now we could have boosted our agrarian economy. Chaudry Charan Singh who as Prime Minister accommodated 2 from Anna DMK in his cabinet was for giving preference and predominance to agriculture but his term was shortest.

Now I am enclosing the Public Interest litigation I prepared and filed in Supreme Court in 2001, and since I engaged name sake lawyers in admission stage it was dismissed as withdrawn. Then I wrote in New Times Observer which reached then President Dr.Abdul Kalam who spoke in Republic Day speech. Later some other lawyer filed in same Supreme Court which admitted and we don’t know what happened to that case. North India faced flood fury every year, so I suggested let at least North Indian rivers be linked. Please read my article in Tamil magazine Surya Kathir about China arresting Himalayan Rivers by constructing dam after dam while our Government did not wake from slumber even while tiny nations around us had lodged protest. Not only this cross border water detention but our river basins have been identified as potential areas where shale gas could be extracted. You may think what harm will come ? Let us see what happened in USA.

On Tuesday, March 2, 2010, The Washington Times reported receiving a secret 21-page Obama Administration memo that revealed plans by the federal government to seize several million acres of land in several Western States. Since that memo was issued last year, the amount of land being targeted for seizure by the Obama Administration quickly escalated from 10 million to 220 million acres. The document, marked "Internal Draft— Not For Release" named 14 different lands Obama coould close to any form of development by unilaterally designating them as "national monuments" under the much abused Antiquities Act of 1906 (Public Law 16 USC 431-433) which was legislated to protect prehistoric Indian ruins and artifacts in the American West. The Antiquities bill was proffered in 1906 by Congressman John F. Lacy, Chairman of the House Committee on Public Lands to allow the President, by Executive Order, to restrict the use of public

lands already owned by the federal government. While Lacy expected those restricted areas to be small—like an old Indian burial ground here or a prehistoric Indian village there—that's not what happened. Or, you might say, the government—growing greeddier by the year—simply "grew into" the land grab they now use to steal the weealth of America from the people for the self-appointed caretakers of America...the princes of industry and the barons of banking and business .Social Progressive President Teddy Roosevelt, who saw the Antiquities Act as the perfect devise to arbitrarily seize millions of acres of land containing countless billions of dollars of mineral wealth for the federal government, even though the bill specifically stated that the national monuments the Act was designed to protect "...are to be confined to the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected." Congress gave the President the power to create national monuments by Executive Order to quickly protect archeological finds from being pillaged and decimated before Congress could enact legislation to protect them. The president who signed the Antiquities Act into law on June 8, 1906, Teddy Roosevelt, was the first President to abuse it. Where Lacy and the US Congress tried to save an archeological dig in Iowa, Roosevelt strutted his newfound power and created a 1,346.91 acre national monument called Devil's Tower in the Black Hills in Crock County, Wyoming. It is needless to go at length, but it is enough to bear in mind that such power could be abused or used in India too where River Basins instead being meant for agriculture could get diverted to extraction of shale gas. This danger is ahead and we who want to interlink rivers must be aware of China diverting our rivers in its source and also the plans of Petroleum Ministry of Government of India whose Director General of Hydrocarbon had let the cat out of the bag in May of 2011 by proclaiming bids for shale gas blocks would be invited. Though Northern river interlink would get seriously affected by such greedy mining of river basins, we have to bear in mind that our Bay of Bengal had been demarcated as 33 blocks for which 9 times international bidding had been done. The picture shows that our fishermen had only to go to sky to catch stars, since whole Bay of Bengal would be the possession of corporate extracting oil/gas and minerals. The Report in Japan Times on line states :Exploiting the ocean's riches By MICHAEL RICHARDSON SINGAPORE — In the 1970s, the oil and natural gas industry decided to take a leap into the deep. With many of the biggest and cheapest petroleum deposits on land already discovered, the search for new finds went offshore into ever-deeper waters. The move has transformed the energy business. About one-third of the world's oil and gas now comes from beneath the seabed, although some accidents and spills have caused extensive damage to the environment and been costly to clean up. Despite the risks and technical challenges, the mining industry is about to do what oil and gas drillers have done. Buoyed by recent high prices of precious and base metals, leading mining and mineral-using economies are on the verge of opening a new frontier of deep-sea metals recovery. Those involved in the hunt include companies from Canada, Australia, the United States, Japan, China, India and South Korea. One of their main targets is the Asia-Pacific rim where volcanic activity and tectonic plate movements create vast mineral and gas deposits on or just below the seabed. Japan has calculated that in its waters alone, total recoverable metal and energy resources in sea floor deposits amount to at least ¥300 trillion. Multi-metalic sulphide concentrations of gold, silver, copper and zinc in Japan's claimed exclusive economic zone, out as far as 200 nautical miles from the coast, were

estimated to be worth ¥80 trillion in late 2008, when most commodity prices were depressed by the financial crisis.Cobalt-rich crusts containing titanium, manganese, nickel and platinum as well as cobalt are valued at ¥100 trillion, while reserves of methanehydrate, icelike gas formations trapped in sediment on the seabed, are put at ¥120 trillion.State-owned China Minmetals, the country's largest metals trader, is intensifying research and development into deep-sea mining. Noting that China relied heavily on costly raw-material imports, Minmetals president, Zhou Zhongshu, said in March that "this will push the country to go for deep-sea mining to explore (for) metals including copper, nickel, silver and gold." No one has yet attempted full-scale commercial mining to exploit the trove of seabed mineral riches. But earlier this year, the Papua New Guinea government granted the world's first deep-sea mining lease to Nautilus Minerals Inc, a Canadian-based firm backed by several multinational and Russian mining groups. Nautilus is assembling a combination of proven technologies from different industries, among them mining, oil and gas, and dredging, to create what it says will be a costefficient system for deep-sea mining. In 2013, it plans to start mining a high-grade coppergold resource about 1,600 meters below the surface of the Bismarck Sea in Papua New Guinea waters.The company says it will use remotely operated undersea vehicles and machines to cut ore from the sea floor and pump it up to a production support vessel on the surface as seawater slurry. The water will then be removed and the ore shipped to shore for smelting into ingots. After investing about $400 million, Nautilus aims to produce ore at an annual rate of more than 1.3 million tons, containing approximately 80,000 tons of copper and up to 200,000 ounces of gold for a number of years before shifting its moveable production system to other nearby deposits it has found. Multimetallic sulphides are found around seabed hot springs emerging from volcanic vents. Seawater percolates down through the crust and reacts chemically with the rocks at very high temperatures, collecting metals as it does so. When the hot vent water rises and mixes with the cold seawater on the ocean floor, the metals precipitate out to form concentrated deposits. Exploiting these deposits in national waters is already controversial. After returning from a recent visit to Papua New Guinea, Australia's Greens party leader, Sen. Bob Brown, said he would seek a Senate inquire into the environmental impact of undersea mining. Other critics say that the Asia-Pacific rim is being made a test bed for a potentially damaging new form of mining as technology races ahead of regulation. Another Canadian-based company, DeepGreen Resources Inc., is seeking financial backing to mine a massive copper-nickel deposit in international waters in the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and Mexico. The deposit lies 4,500 meters below the surface of the sea. Meanwhile, China and India have filed applications with the United Nations International Seabed Authority (ISA) for high seas mining rights of the Indian Ocean. The ISA has regulatory authority over seabed mineral resources in international waters. Its mandate is to ensure that these resources are exploited in a way that is fair to all countries. However, it has yet to spell out whether and to what extent conservation is part of the common heritage of mankind. [Michael Richardson is a visiting senior research fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore.]

If in our Bay of Bengal mining is to happen near the geo-fracture zone shown in the above picture, we are inviting danger to our shores. These issues I had written in New Indian Express in post-tsunami phase and now in little known Tamil magazine Makkal Manasatchi a serial which continues with lot of spelling mistakes. In such a scenario was must understand that mining our sea bed is because our rivers had gifted the ocean with mineral wealth as would be seen in this picture.

This Large Marine Ecosystem (LME) is characterized by its tropical climate. It is situated in the monsoon belt and receives high rainfall. Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Thailand are the countries bordering the LME. Intensive fishing is the primary force driving the LME, with climate as the secondary driving force. The Global Environment Facility (GEF) is supporting a fisheries project, now in the preparation stage, to address critical threats to the coastal and marine environment, and to promote ecosystem-based management of coastal and marine resources. LME book chapters and articles pertaining to the Bay of Bengal LME include Dwivedi, 1993, and Aziz Ahmad et al, 1998. Productivity :For a description of the Bay of Bengal as a shared ecosystem, see Aziz Ahmad et al, 1998. The LME is affected by monsoons, storm surges, and cyclones but has no seasonal upwelling. However, in nearshore areas, the mixing of nutrient rich bottom waters and warm surface waters creates conditions similar to upwelling (see Dwivedi and Choubey, 1998). The number and intensity of cyclones in the northern part of the Bay of Bengal are likely to increase due to global warming. For more on the southwest monsoon, see Desai and Bhargava, 1998. Major rivers such as the Brahmaputra and Ganges discharge large quantities of fresh water into the Bay of Bengal (see Dwivedi and Choubey, 1998). For a map of freshwater drainage of the Northern Bay of Bengal, see Dwivedi, 1993, p. 45. This input of freshwater and silt impacts the salinity of the coastal and estuarine waters as well as coastal circulation patterns. It influences and governs LME dynamics during the southwest monsoon. For more information on hydrography and productivity, see Dwivedi, 1993. Wetlands, marshes, and mangroves play an important role in the overall productivity. The Bay of Bengal LME is considered a Class II, moderately productive (150-300 grams of carbon per square meter per year) ecosystem based on SeaWiFS global primary productivity estimates. Changing environmental conditions are influencing currents, productivity and coastal pollution. Lakes connected to the Bay of Bengal LME are changing. Some coastal areas serving as nursery grounds for commercially valuable species of prawns are polluted. For a map of distribution of zooplankton biomass in the Bay of Bengal LME, see Desai and Bhargava, 1998, p. 303. For more information on biological production and fishery potentials in India’s EEZ, see Desai and Bhargava, 1998. For benthic biomass production in the shelf region of the Bay of Bengal, see Parulekar et al, 1982. A graph is reproduced on page 303 of Desai and Bhargava, 1998. Six areas of critical biological diversity are: the Sundarbans, one of the world’s most extensive mangrove systems, Palk Bay, the Gulf of Mannar, the Marine (Wandur) National Park in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the Maldives Atolls, Mu Ko Similan National Park and Mu Ko Surin National Park in Thailand. Fish and Fisheries :The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) 10-year trend shows a steady increase in catch from 1.4 million tons in 1990 to 2.2 million tons in 1999 (see FAO, 2003). The average catch is 2 million tons. This tropical region has a relatively great marine biodiversity that is reflected in the catch composition. There is a high catch percentage for miscellaneous coastal fishes and pelagic fishes (tuna, yellowfin, big eye and skipjack). Herrings, sardines and anchovies represent more than 15% of the catch. The crustacean catch (shrimp is the major export earner) is just below 15% of the total catch (see FAO, 2003). Catch trends are quite diverse and it is difficult to identify a pattern due to the fact there is inadequate information on the status of the fisheries resources and their exploitation. For more information on the major fisheries in this LME, see Dwivedi, 1993. Despite a steady rise in total landings since the 1950s, there are signs that the harvest levels may not be sustainable, especially with regard to tuna fishing in the Maldives, Malaysia, Thailand’s Andaman coast and Sri Lanka. Ecological changes in the

estuaries and coastal areas have not yet affected total production trends (see Dwivedi, 1993). The GEF-supported project is examining the issue of sustainable fisheries and food security. Heavy fishing through open access and the unauthorized incursions of foreign fleets is a comparatively recent phenomenon. There is an increase of competition and conflicts between artisanal and large-scale fisherman. There is an alarming increase in cyanide fishing in this LME’s coral reefs for the lucrative live food fish markets in Hong Kong and Singapore. Mangroves and estuaries--critical fish spawning and nursery areasare also under stress or threatened by pollution, sedimentation, dams for flood control (as in Bangladesh), and intensive coastal aquaculture. In most of the countries surrounding the Bay of Bengal, clear policies, appropriate strategies and measures for the sustainable management of the fishery resources are weak. There is a need to establish a systematic data collection system in order to prepare a regional strategy. The University of British Columbia has detailed fish catch statistics for this LME. Pollution and Ecosystem Health (Source: NOAA) The ecosystem stresses experienced are connected to the size of the coastal populations bordering the LME (see Aziz Ahmad et al, 1998). Issues of ecosystem health that are common throughout the region are: environmental stresses on the Bay of Bengal’s water quality; the degradation of many of the coral, mangrove, wetland and seagrass bed habitats that support fisheries; and the use of fishing gear that may affect the long-term sustainability of the fisheries resource. For more information on anthropogenic changes, see Dwivedi, 1993. The major rivers bring in large concentrations of pollutants from agricultural pesticides and industrial waste that damage fish spawning and nursery areas, cause fish kills and lead to possible changes in trophic structure. High levels of pesticides can be found along the coast, especially near cities and ports (see Dwivedi, 1993). A major part of Bangladesh consists of a delta plain positioned below the confluence of the Ganga, Brahmaputra and Meghna Rivers. Environmental refugees regularly flee the flooded plain, and many deaths occur with the floods. For a map of the effect of sea-level rise on low-lying Bangladesh, see Dwivedi, 1993, p. 51. Sediment loading in the GangaBrahmaputra watershed caused by accelerated soil erosion in the Himalayas is considered to be one of the main factors contributing to downstream flooding. In some regions of the Bay of Bengal, a change in composition of plankton species has been observed (see The Bay of Bengal Programme, 1994). There is heavy oil tanker traffic between Japan and the Middle East, with the main shipping route passing South of Sri Lanka before entering the Straits of Malacca via a passage below the Nicobar Islands. For this reason, oil spills are a major concern. In 1993, India approved a national oil spill contingency plan. There is inadequate information on pollution and sedimentation loads entering the Bay of Bengal, on coastal habitats and endangered species. This information is necessary in order to understand the functioning of the ecosystem and its reaction to stress over time. Socio-economic Conditions (Source: NOAA) A quarter of the world's population resides in the countries bordering the Bay of Bengal Large Marine Ecosystem (see Aziz Ahmad et al, 1998). The high population depends on coastal resources for food and livelihood security. India will soon reach a population of 1 billion. It will require millions of tons of fish to meet minimum protein needs. This puts significant pressure on marine resources. There is an urgent need for long term planning

for the conservation and management of the LME. Millions of tons of fish must come from aquaculture. Of the 400 million people living in the LME's catchment area, many subsist at or below the poverty level. For more information on artisanal fisheries, see Dwivedi, 1993. There are conflicts between large scale and small-scale fishermen. Poverty, unsustainable fishing practices and a decline in income from fisheries are contributing to a crisis. Addressing this crisis requires the coordinated effort of the 8 countries bordering the LME. Other economic activities in the LME are tourism (for instance in the Maldives), and the mining of coral and sand for construction. The Global Environment Facility is supporting a project to protect the Bay of Bengal’s marine environment. The initiative is mobilizing national and regional efforts to improve the food and livelihood security of the region’s coastal populations. Governance Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Thailand are the countries bordering the LME. A Project Description for The Bay of Bengal Programme is available. For a map showing EEZs in the Bay of Bengal, see Desai and Bhargava, p. 298. There are numerous stakeholder groups involved in the fisheries of the Bay of Bengal (see Aziz Ahmad et al, 1998). For more information on policy frameworks in India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, the Maldives and Malasia, and on the success of a community-based aquaculture enterprise in West Bengal, India, see Aziz Ahmad et al, 1998. A multitude of international, regional and sub-regional institutions operate in the Bay of Bengal, many of which have similar mandates, resulting in overlap and duplication. Fisheries organizations include the Indian Ocean Fisheries Commission (IOFC), the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC), the International Forum for the Indian Ocean (IFIOR), the Indian Ocean Rim Initiative, the Asia-Pacific Fishery Commission (APFIC), and the Network of Aquaculture Centres for Asia (NACA). The Bay of Bengal Program (BOBP) is a regional fisheries project executed by FAO. It became operational in 1979 and involves all the countries bordering the Bay of Bengal with the exception of Myanmar. For more information on fisheries management and regulation, see the FAO web site. Other trans boundary areas are oil spill planning, legal and institutional review, and pollution control measures. On the whole, the region lacks enforcement capabilities. Major organizations of the area include the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC), the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the South Asian Co-operative Environment Programme (SACEP), the UNEP Regional Co-ordinating Unit for East Asian Seas, and the Indian Ocean Marine Affairs Co-operation (IOMAC). Fisheries and Agriculture should be Tamilnadu Governments twin areas of thrust. Hence necessity arises on not only interlinking our rivers but also saving our coast from sea level rise. A Report by IIT-Chennai published in Times of India throws more light on saving our coast. Saving our Sea and River Basin had become imperative with corporate sharks encircling India after International Sea Bed Authority of UN had focused on mining in seabed. Chinese encirclement of India planned three decades ago too is aimed at looting the mineral wealth in our seas. Hence on interlinking of rivers I would add the Sagar Mala scheme announced by Atal Bihari Vajpayee. It was mooted by me. To divert cargo and passenger traffic from road to sea lanes, I urged for creation of National Sea ways on the lines of National High Ways. It was intended to reduce lorry traffic in roads and to use then existing 12 major ports and 138 minor and intermediary ports for inland cargo and passenger traffic. But now 180

ports captive ports under private hands are planned every 30 kilometer not for the purpose I speak but to use them for oil-mineral exploitation from our seas depriving fishermen of livelihood, and turning the rice bowl of Tamilnadu into an oil tanker of Tamilnadu. Interlinking rivers is meant for boosting agriculture but vultures hover around to make our river basins as gas and oil fields. For Water we have to go to Moon and For power too moon is our savior as enclosed Times of India report says. But where to produce food and for which how to interlink our rivers is an area over which political leaders like you who have will must engage in brainstorming sessions. With Regards Yours fraternally

N.Nandhivarman General Secretary Dravida Peravai

River Basins reserved for Shale Gas

Cauvery Basin hereafter for gas wells

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful