Sethu project will upset natural environment: Experts

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Chennai, Sep 28 (UNI) Rushing through the implementation of the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project (SSCP) without a comprehensive study on its economic feasibility, environmental impact and navigational prospects will prove ''useless and destructive,'' experts opined.

Addressing a press conference here today, a panel of experts were of the view that the SSCP would upset the natural environmental balance, destroy habitat of rare marine organisms and all the more not help to achieve the ''short-cut sea channel,'' touted as capable of maximising profits in cargo traffic.

Former Director of Geological Survey of India (GSI) K Gopalkrishnan said the country's premier body on geological matters, the GSI, was not consulted or apprised of the ''impact studies,'' which is mandatory in such a project of far-reaching consequences.

The destruction of a ''naturally-formed'' area with ''uniqueness'' in bio-organism and geographical aspects would add to the vulnerability of the cyclone and tsunami-prone southern coast.

''A multi-discipline committee should be formed for a thread bare analysis of the merits and demerits of the project,'' he suggested.

Listing out the natural pitfalls in a 12-metre deep shipping channel, Indian Navy Captain (retd) H Balakrishnan said the project would neither shorten the sea route nor save shipping time because of the ''Shallow Water Effect.'' ''A ship will have to halve its regular speed of 12 nautical mph to pass through the shallow waters of the proposed channel,'' he said.

Contradicting the reports favouring the project as a short cut, he said it would save shipping time in Kolkata-Tuticorin route only by one-hour-and-forty five minutes. The pilotage charges and oil consumption would force the shipping companies to avoid the route, he pointed out.

''If the channel can not be a short cut and a fuel-saving one, what is the logic in going ahead with it?,'' he asked.

UNI

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