ADDRESS AT THE INAUGURATION OF THE AMRITA SETU, KOLLAM
20-12-2006 : Kollam
Bridging the hearts
I am very happy to be in the Mata Amritanandamayi Math in the presence of Amma and participate in the inauguration of the Amrita Setu, a bridge connecting the peninsular region to the mainland near Kochi over the backwaters of the Arabian Sea. I am happy to be here to inaugurate an important connectivity for the people of this region. My greetings to Her Holiness Mata Amritanandamayi and other dignitaries on this occasion.
When I saw the Amrita Sethu, my memory went back to Rameshwaram. It is said that Rama ordered the construction of a bridge at Rameshwaram Dhanushkodi. His Vanara Sena built the bridge in time for the Rama?s troops to go to Srilanka for waging the war against Ravana, as mentioned in Ramayana. Satellite picture shows that the remnants of a bridge still exists between Rameshwaram and Srilanka. I am sure the Amrita Setu bridge built by Amma will also go into history and enhance the economic activity of this region.
Amrita Setu Bridge
I am happy that this bridge will greatly benefit the citizens of Alappad Panchayat. For these people crossing to the mainland has been a big problem due to the lack of a near by bridge. For any medical emergency a bridge like this could be a life saving connectivity. If there is a need for large-scale evacuation due to any natural calamity, Amrita Setu pedestrian bridge will enable people to move to safer places with speed. In addition to this the bridge will promote economic activity between the peninsular region and mainland.
My father?s passenger boat
When I am in the midst of people living in ocean environment, I am reminded of my childhood experience, which I would like to share with you. I was about six years old (1937) when my father embarked on the project of building a wooden passenger boat with sail to take pilgrims from Rameswaram to Dhanushkodi, (also called Sethukkarai), and back. He worked at building the boat on the seashore, with the help of a few experienced carpenters. The wooden hull and bulkheads were seasoned with the heat from wood fires. I watched the boat taking shape. Then the passenger boat with sail was built and launched. Since the boat was new and it could carry 40 passengers, it became popular and led to good earning and it was a big resource for my education. One day, suddenly a cyclone bringing winds of over 140 miles per hour carried away our boat, along with some of the landmass of Sethukkarai.
When the people work in the sea coast, it is essential to provide proper warning system about the sea condition and wind condition, so that safety of the people who are following a profession in and around sea. The Amrita Setu indeed will be useful in normal time for people and material movement and during the high wind and high sea conditions it will facilitate evacuation of large number of people in a short time.
What is needed in the coastal region is the creation of coastal PURA which will increase the earning capacity and enhance the quality of life of the citizens living in the region.
I have discussed with Dr. P.S. Rana, former Chairman HUDCO on the development of coastal PURA in Kerala. He had made a detailed study on the development of Coastal PURA for the KERALA coastal region. I would like to share with you the design of the coastal PURA.
Physical Connectivity: Construction of jetties and small and medium sized boat landing centres on the coast in the interval of 10 to 15 km range. Each of these will have a good link road to the main coastal road. Some times road transportation may be complemented with waterways. Establishment of Community Sheds for repair of nets, storing the nets and related equipments of the fishing community and Boat building and repair small scale industries.
Electronic Connectivity: All the fishing villages on the coastal areas have to be linked with the District Headquarters through the Broadband fibre and wireless connectivities. Fishing community should be provided with broadcasting facilities through Satellite radios and HAMSAT network. Mobile cell phone with GPS facility may be provided for each boat for emergency communication. This will also provide the local fishing population data, local meteorological and local sea state data through SMS from the Village knowledge Centres obtained from near by the Meteorological station, Disaster Management stations, District Headquarter station and the other service providers.
Knowledge Connectivity: Government should facilitate the training of fishing community in cost effective safe fishing techniques, application of technology for improving the productivity, storage and preservation systems and cost effective marketing, banking & financing systems through the District Headquarters Studio and the connected village knowledge centers. It will also provide adequate warning data for the fishing community on the sea to return to home safely.
Economic Connectivity: These three connectivities -physical, electronic and knowledge will motivate and enable the local population to create economic centres such as Cold Storage infrastructure, Fish processing and packaging and marketing for realizing the value added price. This will also provide alternative employment oriented schemes during non-fishing days and for people who are involved in agriculture and other activities. Such economically oriented job creating activities should be the objective of our rural development schemes.
Amma?s Noble Mission
Mata Amritanandamayi Math has been working on a number of societal missions in Kerala and in many parts of the country. Wherever people are in difficulties, Mata Amritanandamayi and the devoted volunteers reach the spot and provide relief to the needy with speed and compassion. I am sure, many societal organizations would like to emulate this model which is founded on the principle ?Service to Mankind is Service to God?.
I congratulate the devotees, planners, architects, builders and service providers who have collectively ensured the construction of this bridge Amrita Setu in a record time of one year. All these have been possible only through the divine blessings of Her Holiness Mata Amritanandamayi. My respects and greetings to all of you.
May God bless you.