SSCP Dredging will wipe out Chennai and Visakhapattanam-Expert

published on June 18, 2007

Ramar Sethu breach may sink Vizag  

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Visakhapatnam , June 17: City-based marine expert Bandaru Venkata Adinarayana has warned that Chennai and Visakhapatnam would go under water if the Ramar Sethu (Adams Bridge) is breached. Dredging is being undertaken in the Ramar Sethu area for the proposed Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project and Mr Adinarayana says that this would cause unprecedented sand erosion.

According to the retired assistant garrison engineer, Rameswaram, Kakinada, Puduchery, Puri and other small towns and villages along the East Coast would all vanish from the map before the turn of the century because of erosion.

Mr Adinarayana, who has worked in many naval dockyards and has studied various dimensions of SSCP, has also warned that prestigious coast guard projects at Ramnad, Mandapam and Paradeep might be swallowed by the sea. Sriharikota may be eroded and Chilika Lake may become a part of Bay of Bengal in 30 to 60 years.

Once the Ramar Sethu/Adam’s Bridge is dredged to complete the SSCP, there would be huge erosion of sand from the east coast to the Indian Ocean. Abnormal sand erosion has already been observed on the Vizag beach after SSCP work started in 2005, he said.

SSCP entails cutting a canal to connect the Gulf of Mannar with the Palk Bay in order to shorten the sea route between the east and west coasts of India.  A submerged reef called the Ramar Sethu/Adam’s Bridge, believed by many to be the bridge built by Lord Rama’s vanara army, links Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu with Talaimannar in Sri Lanka.

This reef has impeded the movement of ships between the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Bay, forcing them to take a detour. SSCP was conceived to remove this impediment.

However, the 280-km long and 25-km wide Ramar Sethu was also blocking the sand flow into the Indian Ocean on the west coast. SSCP engineers are planning to dredge the Ramar Sethu 20km long, 300 metres wide and 12 metres deep to create the canal. “It will trigger a major disaster in the entire east coast of India, north of Sri Lanka and south of Bangladesh,” said Mr Adinarayana.

Even the small three-metre deep and 100-metre wide dredging by the British for the Pamban canal had triggered major erosion causing the disappearance of temples in Mahabalipuram and Visakhapatnam.

“In some places, the erosion of the sea was almost 5 km,” said Mr Adinarayana.  “Kavaripoombokarpatnam near Nagapatnam submerged in sea and Chilka Lake turned salty.” Sri Lanka too suffered. There were 1,378 islands there till 1600. But at present, only 113 islands remain in the mainland. “This is also because of sand erosion after the opening of Pamban canal.”

For the SSCP, the Centre has set apart Rs 140 crore for continuous dredging. Mr Adinarayana estimates that around 63,860,400 cubic metres of sand would be eroded in a year after Ramar Sethu is cut open for 300 metres.  “This means that the sand drift into Indian Ocean from SSCP will be 24 times that of the Pamban canal,” he said. “It also means the damage will be 24 times more.”


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