Revisiting Sethusamudram2 min read . Updated: 20 Mar 2008, 12:43 AM IST
Regarding the editorial, “Higher price for prestige", Mint, 17 March, the Sethusamudram canal project is probably the most controversial project in recent times. It is a matter of concern that on an issue of such serious consequences, politics of one-upmanship is being played. The fact that so many leading environmentalists, economists, security personnel and, of course, millions of Hindu belie-vers are opposed to the project should have been reason enough for the government to re-evaluate the project. We hope good sense prevails with the government.
This is with reference to “Govt plays favourites in coal mining deals", Mint, 18 March. Allocation of mines is an important issue for companies that are planning to set up their projects. The companies that got the approval may relish their victory. However, the companies that have been rejected or not considered may have to face delays even further.
Companies such as ArcelorMittal and Posco are waiting approval for mining leases as they have proposed investments for setting up steel plants in Orissa. Even these companies have been facing delays for more than two years. However, no one can say whether the companies will get mining leases or not, especially after a question has been raised on the decision on coal mines.
It is important for the government to rethink its policies so that the investors and industries do not lose their faith in the legal procedures. It is depressing to see carelessness in such important matters. A discreet decision has to be taken so that the right and deserving companies get the approval to use country’s resources.
A balanced article brings out almost all the pros and cons. Praful Bidwai’s “Nuclear deal: no clear reason", Mint, 17 March, sorely misses the point about India’s security concerns— China having already encircled India. China has defence and/or nuclear pacts with Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Nepal and Pakistan, it is stoking insurgency in the North-East and sympathizes with Pakistan’s stand on Kashmir. It continues to clandestinely give nuclear and missile technology to Pakistan and Iran. It has just completed Gwadar Port with no other intention but to dominate the sea routes bringing hydrocarbons from West Asia, which until now were safe for India.
Note that Prakash Karat and Sitaram Yechury had said, “But this deal would encircle China"! This shows where their loyalties lie. China’s stance in the on-going negotiations for the India-Pakistan-Iran pipeline is also intriguing. Iran has enough gas to feed Pakistan, India and China. Even then, China says it would take Iran gas only if India doesn’t and that too over a route bypassing India. Iran wants to sell its gas as much as India wants to buy it and Pakistan wants the pipeline to traverse through its territory to earn hefty transit fees. It is not a one-sided affair.
So, is China acting as the sales agent of Iran and Pakistan and, if so, why? Is this not subtle blackmail? China, Pakistan and Iran all gain if the pipeline passes through treacherous territories infested with insurgency because that is a good excuse to stop supply to India and choke it “energetically" at will. Should India embrace China as these Leftists say and close all options towards its security concerns?
—Maj. Gen. S.C.N. Jatar, Retd