Tag Archives: Maldives

Islands in the Gulf of Mannar: Part 1 – Adam’s Bridge


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Myself 

By T.V. Antony Raj

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The Laccadive Sea

The Laccadive Sea or Lakshadweep Sea is a body of water that includes the Lakshadweep islands, the Maldives, and Sri Lanka.

Laccadive Sea
Laccadive Sea

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The International Hydrographic Organization defines the limits of the Laccadive Sea as follows:

  • On the West. A line running from Sadashivgad Lt., on west coast of India (14°48′N 74°07′E) to Corah Divh (13°42′N 72°10′E) and thence down the west side of the Lakshadweep and Maldive Archipelagos to the most southerly point of Addu Atoll in the Maldives.
  • On the South. A line running from Dondra Head in Sri Lanka to the most southerly point of Addu Atoll.
  • On the East. The southeastern coast of India and west coast of Sri Lanka.
  • On the Northeast. Adam’s Bridge between India and Sri Lanka.

The Gulf of Mannar and Adam’s Bridge

The Gulf of Mannar is a large shallow bay, a part of the Lakshadweep Sea between the southeastern coast of India and the West coast of Sri Lanka. The estuaries of the river Thamirabarani of south India and the river Aruvi Aru of Sri Lanka drain into the gulf.

Adam's Bridge separating Gulf of Mannar from Palk Bay
Adam’s Bridge separating Gulf of Mannar from Palk Bay

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An 18-miles (30 km) long isthmus composed of limestone shoals, and coral reefs, popularly known as Adam’s Bridge or Ramsethu, lies between Pamban Island, off the southeastern coast of Tamil Nadu, India, and Mannar Island, off the northwestern coast of Sri Lanka.

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Aerial view of Mannar Island and Adam's Bridge.
Aerial view of Mannar Island and Adam’s Bridge.

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Geological evidence suggests that this bridge formerly connected India and Sri Lanka.

The Rameswaram cyclone of 1964 started with the depression that formed in the South Andaman Sea on December 17, 1964. On December 19, it intensified into a severe cyclonic storm. From December 21, it moved westwards, 400 km to 550 km per day. On December 22, it crossed Vavunia in Sri Lanka with a wind speed of 280 km per hour. On December 22-23 night, the cyclone and moved into Palk Strait and made landfall in Dhanushkodi, India. The devastating tidal waves that were 7 metres high submerged all houses and other structures in Dhanushkodi town. The death toll rose to 1,800.

In the past too, high-intensity cyclones and storms often ravaged the area around Rameswaram in India.

Records from Hindu temples say that Ramsethu was completely above sea level that could be traversed on foot, until a cyclone in 1480 AD submerged it.

A study conducted by the Geological Survey of India indicated that in 1948-49 the southern part of erstwhile Dhanushkodi Township, facing Gulf of Mannar, sank by almost 5 meters due to vertical tectonic movement of land parallel to the coastline. As a result of this, a stretch of land of about half a kilometre wide and 7 km in length, along North-South direction, submerged into the sea together with many roads, residential areas, places of worship, etc.

Now, some sandbanks of the Adam’s Bridge are dry, and the sea is very shallow, only 3 feet to 30 feet (1 metre to 10 metres) deep. This geographical feature of the Adam’s Bridge acts as a barrier to heavy vessels that cruise from India’s west coast to India’s east coast and ships have to take the long circuitous route around Sri Lanka.

The chief seaports on the Gulf of Mannar are Thoothukudi (formerly Tuticorin) in Tamil Nadu, India and Colombo in Sri Lanka. These ports can accommodate deep-draft vessels, but the shallow sea in the Adam’s Bridge region allows only small shallow-draft vessels.

In July 2005, the Indian Government envisaged the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project to dredge and scrape out a deep channel to open a direct shipping route for heavy vessels to ply from the southeastern Gulf of Mannar to the northeastern Bay of Bengal and avoid the long trip around Sri Lanka. However, environmentalists have warned that the project could cause grave damage to the sea life of the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and thereby affect fisheries in both the southeastern coast of India and the west coast of Sri Lanka.

.                                                                     Next: Part 2 – The 21 Islands of India →

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Maldives: 15-year-old Girl Raped by Stepfather Flogged for ‘Fornication’


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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Maldives Queen of all islands
Maldives Queen of all islands

Every year, around 700,000 visitors from around the globe visit the Maldives, lured by its pristine beaches. However, this paradise nation has become increasingly conservative in recent years due to influence of more fundamental forms of Islam.

In the summer of 2012, in the remote Feydhoo island in the Maldives, a police investigation after finding the corpse of a baby buried beneath an outdoor shower area outside the home of an unfortunate 15-year-old girl revealed that the teenager gave birth to her stepfather’s baby, which he allegedly killed and buried.

Feydhoo island, Maldives
Feydhoo island, Maldives

The teenager reportedly confessed to the police that apart from her stepfather she had consensual sex with another male. It is unclear whether the police has identified or charged this person. The police have charged the girl’s stepfather for raping her for years and murdering the baby she bore.

On February 25, 2013, a juvenile court in the Maldives, instead of sympathizing with the plight of the 15-year-old girl, has found her guilty of having “sex outside marriage.” The Court sentenced her to spend eight months under house arrest and to receive 100 lashes according to the Sharia Law when she turns 18, unless she requests it earlier.

This incident has triggered widespread worldwide condemnation. 

Under the current laws of the Maldives, pre-marital sex is a crime and those found guilty are often flogged. Flogging as a punishment for this ‘crime’ directly violates international law, which completely prohibits cruel, inhuman or degrading punishments. Yet, flogging remains all too common in the Maldives. In 2009, the courts sentenced over 180 people for flogging for the ‘crime’ of fornication. Almost 90 per cent of them were women.

However, under the international human rights laws and standards, to which the Maldives is a signatory, ‘fornication’ is not a recognised offence and member states must not criminalize or punish young people who engage in consensual sexual activity, or are victims of abuse.

While visiting the country in 2011, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Ms. Navi Pillay called flogging “one of the most inhumane and degrading forms of violence against women” and she requested the Maldives to stop this barbaric practice.

Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director for Human Rights Watch, said: “The girl is already a victim and is traumatized. The authorities should be trying to protect her, not punish her.”

Mohammed Waheed Hassan, President of Maldives
Mohammed Waheed Hassan, President of Maldives

President Mohammed Waheed Hassan of the Maldives is already feeling global pressure. The president’s office has released a statement saying that the girl is a victim to be protected and not punished by the government. A government spokesperson has also said that the Maldives are considering changing the law.

The Amnesty International UK / Blogs says:

If one good thing could come out of this case, it is that the international outrage prompted by this girl’s story and focus on the darker side of life in this seemingly idyllic holiday destination will convince the authorities to end the practice of flogging and decriminalise consensual sexual activity.

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Maldives Cabinet Makes a Splash by Holding an Underwater Meeting!


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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Note: What you are about to see and read happened in October 2009. Though the news is old I was impressed by the event and want to share it with you.

“If the Maldives cannot be saved today we do not feel that there is much of a chance for the rest of the world” —  President Mohamed Nasheed (fourth president of the Maldives from November 11, 2008 to February 7, 2012)

Amazing beach – Maldives

The islands of the Maldives archipelago stand an average of 2.1 metres (7 feet) above sea level.

In March 2009, scientists at a meeting in Copenhagen predicted that glaciers and ice sheets melting as a result of global warming could boost the level of the world’s oceans by as much as a metre by 2100; and at the rate of rising sea levels, the whole archipelago could end up under the water by the end of the century.

The government of the Maldives held a cabinet meeting underwater on October 17, 2009 to draw attention to to the threat global warming poses to the low-lying nation in the Indian Ocean.

Maldives cabinet holds underwater meeting 1 Maldives cabinet holds underwater meeting!

President Mohammed Nasheed and members of his cabinet wore scuba gear as they arrived for the meeting in a lagoon off the island of Girifushi.

They sat at a table anchored to the sand on the floor of the Indian Ocean and signed a document calling on all countries to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions.

They spent half an hour on the sea bed, communicating with white boards and hand signals.

Maldives cabinet holds underwater meeting 2 Maldives cabinet holds underwater meeting!

Maldives cabinet holds underwater meeting 3 Maldives cabinet holds underwater meeting!

Officials from around the world will meet in the Danish capital in Copenhagen in December 2009 under UN auspices to hammer out a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol, aiming to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions that are blamed for global warming.

“We’re now actually trying to send our message, let the world know what is happening, and what will happen to the Maldives if climate change is not checked,” President Nasheed said, speaking six metres below the surface..

“If the Maldives cannot be saved today we do not feel that there is much of a chance for the rest of the world. We want other countries to come to an understanding [at the World Climate Congress] in Copenhagen. We do not want to see Copenhagen fail,” he added.

Maldives cabinet holds underwater meeting 4 Maldives cabinet holds underwater meeting!

Officials from around the world will meet in the Danish capital in Copenhagen in December 2009 under UN auspices to hammer out a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol, aiming to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions that are blamed for global warming. The president said the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen cannot be allowed to fail.

At a later press conference while still in the water, President Nasheed was asked what would happen if the summit fails. “We are going to die,” he replied.

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