Experts dismiss merits of Sethu Design

via Courtesy: The New Indian Express published on September 29, 2007

CHENNAI, SEP 28: An expert panel, which had gone over the scientific specifications and impact assessment of the Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project (SSCP),on Friday categorically denied the claims highlighted by the promoters of the project.


The expert panel, comprising K.Gopalakrishnan,Director (retired), Geological Survey of India, H.Balakrishnan, retired Captain, The Indian Navy and Arunachalam, Associate Professor, SPK Centre for Environment Sciences, Manonmaniam Sundaranar University (MSU), termed SSCP as ‘unscientific and uneconomical’, contraray to the claims of the Union Shipping Ministry.


Presenting his findings on the geological impact and implications of the SSCP at a press conference organised by ‘The Movement Against the Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project’ here, Gopalakrishnan said that the Palk Bay and the Gulf of Mannar region, with its high gravity, high heat flow characterestics, was the most vulnerable to earthquakes.


He asserted that the SSCP would have a disastrous impact on the geological, geotectonic, oceanographic and oceanic divide, formed by the physical structures below the sandy bars, which played a crucial role in controlling different geological and oceanographic activities.


Implementing the knowledge earned from years of experience with the Indian Navy, Balakrishnan said that the Palk Bay and the Gulf of Mannar regions were known as the ‘Cyclone Coast’ among regular sailors, as a good number of devastating cyclones originated from the region every year.


” The Bay of Bengal poses a clear, live and present danger to the safety of lives at sea and the SSCP is sought to be created in an area which is fraught with cyclones”, Balakrishnan said.


He also pulled down the lofty claims of the SSCP regarding the number of vessels which were expected to traverse the canal.


” Open source literature on the SSCP indicates that vessels upto 32,000 DWT can navigate through the canal. However, in the current global shipping scenario, to reduce the operating costs and cater to the enormous growth in shipping needs, trends are towards operating vessels of 60,000 DWT and above. This trend is likely to grow in future. None of these large vessels can avail the facility of the SSCP”, said Balakrishnan.


Balakrishnan said that since the SSCP was not on open seaway, it needed piloting and it would work out to be too expensive and time consuming for the vessels using the canal.

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