rama setu: marine bioreserve and setu canal

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Marine bioreserve in Gulf of Mannar and Setusamudram Channel Project -- a cartographic and pictorial essay (26 May 2007)

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  • Marine Bioreserve in Gulf of Mannar and Sethusamudram Channel Project (A cartographic and pictorial essay) Location map. Inset: bathymetry map of the Gulf of Mannar (reproduced from Murty et al., 1994) Source: http://www.sethusamudram.in/htmdocs/Articles/cp_rajendran_2.htm 1
  • Various alignments of Sethusamudram channel considered from 1961 (AR Mudaliar Committee Report of 1956) http://sethusamudram.gov.in/Images/Map1.jpg Alignment No. 4 does NOT impact on the Marine Bioreserve or the National Marine Parks as discussed further through the maps and pictures given below. The choice of Alignment No. 6 (Present channel) is arbitrary and drawn without due diligence, just 2
  • along the medial line between India and Srilanka. (See map of Smt. Indira Gandhi- Smt. Sirimavo Bandaranaike agreement of June 1974). 3
  • Alignment of proposed channel cutting a passage through Rama Setu 4
  • Proposed channel view http://sethusamudram.gov.in/Images/Map3.jpg Dhanushkodi aerial view http://sethusamudram.gov.in/Images/Map15.jpg 5
  • IRS LISS-III Satellite Iagery of Gulf of Mannar Three dimensional model for Gulf of Mannar sea floor The sea floor depth contours with reference to chart datum (1975) measured at Tuticorin and Mandapam coasts during April 1999 are shown in the Figures 7 and Table 1. Recent depth contour map (1999) has been compared with bathymetry map of 1975; it reflects that the seafloor level decreased along the coastal and around the islands in the study area. It may be due to emerging of land due to tectonism. Many authors have reported that the coast of Gulf of Mannar is on an emerging phase due to tectonic movement (Foot, 1888; Ahmad, 1972; Stoodart and Pillai, 1972; Loveson and Rajamanicam, 1988; Ramasamy, Ramasamy, (1996), has build up a post collision tectonic model for the southern part of Indian and in which he has observed a series of geoenvironmental problems being caused due to such ongoing tectonic movement. (Source: http://www.gisdevelopment.net/application/geology/geomorphology/ma06_259a.ht m) When the tsunami struck the coastline of India on Dec. 26, 2004, thanks to the existence of Rama Setu (Adams bridge) which acted as a tsunami protection wall, the tsunami did not have any significant on reefs, associated habitat and resources in Gulf of Mannar. (See http://sethusamudram.gov.in/PeterArticle.asp ) 6
  • http://sethusamudram.gov.in/Images/Map4.jpg Pearl banks in Gulf of Mannar http://sethusamudram.gov.in/Images/Map5.jpg The Gulf of Mannar, India (Source: UN Atlas of the Oceans) 117 hard coral species have been recorded in the Gulf of Mannar. Sea turtles are frequent visitors to the gulf as are sacred sharks, dugongs, and dolphins. However, the combined effects of 47 villages, with a total population of around 50,000 has meant that overharvesting of marine species has become a problem. Fish catches have declined, as have pearl oyster, gorgonian and acorn worms populations. Local fishermen rely on the reef to feed their families however destructive fishing methods 7
  • combined with the stress of pollution and coral mining have meant both nearshore and offshore catches have decreased. Examples of harvested coral (left). Photo courtesy of Topham, UNEP. Around 250metres3 of coral is quarried from the Gulf of Mannar per day. This mining and coastal erosion combined with crown-of- thorns starfish infestations that graze on the reef has caused much coral loss. Sewage pollution on the Keelakarai coast has caused algae growth to cover corals and black and white band coral diseases have been recorded. http://www.oceansatlas.org/cds_ static/en/gulf_mannar_india__en _19407_all_1.html The Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve covers an area of 1,050,000 hectares on the south-east coast of India across from Sri Lanka. It is one of the worlds richest regions from a marine biodiversity perspective. The biosphere reserve comprises 21 islands with estuaries, beaches, forests of the nearshore environment, including a marine component with algal communities, sea grasses, coral reefs, salt marshes and mangroves. Among the Gulfs 3,600 plant and animal species are the globally endangered sea cow (Dugong dugon) and six mangrove species endemic to peninsular India. The inhabitants are mainly Marakeyars, local people principally engaged in fisheries. There are about 47 villages along the coastal part of the biosphere reserve which support some 100,000 people (200,000 seasonally as of 2001). The Global Environmental Facility (GEF) has provided support to the establishment of the biosphere reserve, including the setting up and functioning of the Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve Trust, which is responsible for the coordination of the management plan for the biosphere reserve in concertation with government agencies, private entrepreneurs, and local peoples representatives. Priority is being given to encouraging community-based management. Major habitats & land cover types Sea grass beds dominated by Hydrocharitaceae and Potamogetonaceae, Halodule uninervis, Cymodocea rotunda, C. serrulata etc.; coral reefs; mangroves including 8
  • Rhizophora conjugata, Avicennia alba, Bruguiera gymnorrhiza, Ceriops tagal, Lumnitzera racemosa etc. Year designated: 2001 http://www.unesco.org/mabdb/br/brdir/directory/biores.asp?mode=all&code=IND+0 2 The Gulf of Mannar Marine Biosphere Reserve was established by the Government of India and the State of Tamil Nadu in 1989 and was the first marine protected area to be declared in South and South East Asia. The Reserve consists of a chain of 21 islets lying off Tamil Nadu on the southeast coast of India between 8 45' N and 9 25' N and 78 05' E and 79 30' E and covers approximately 10,500 km. 9
  • The Reserve harbours marine biodiversity of global significance and is renowned for its coral reef, sea grass and algal communities. These habitats provide excellent foraging habitat for marine turtles and green, olive ridley, hawksbill, loggerhead and leatherback turtles have all been recorded there. The islets and coastal buffer zone also include beaches, estuaries, salt marshes, mangroves and tropical dry broadleaf forests. The Gulf of Mannar Marine Biosphere Reserve was established by the Government of India and the State of Tamil Nadu in 1989 and was the first marine protected area to be declared in South and South East Asia. The Reserve consists of a chain of 21 islets lying off Tamil Nadu on the southeast coast of India between 8 45' N and 9 25' N and 78 05' E and 79 30' E and covers approximately 10,500 km. Sea turtle tracking map http://www.seaturtle.org/tracking/maps/thumb/64698.gif