Coast Guard steps up vigil along Palk Bay

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Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu, Oct 12 (UNI) The Coast Guard has stepped up vigil along the Palk Bay and Palk Strait and is monitoring the movement of private barges and ships sailing through uncertified routes.

The vigil assumed significance following reports of barges crossing the controversial Adam's Bridge area, where dredging for the Sethusamudram Shipping Channel Project (SSCP) had been suspended following a Supreme Court order.

''From the security point of view, Adam's Bridge is a sensitive area and no vessel will be allowed to sail without proper documents.

Moreover, Adam's Bridge does not have enough depth for vessels to sail. If they cross this route, there is a possibility of ships running aground,'' Coast Guard sources said today.

There was also a possibility of damage to environment through oil leakage. ''Keeping this in view, patrol vessels of the Coast Guard have been asked to closely monitor the movement of unauthorised vessels off the Rameswaram coast,'' the sources said.

The Coast Guard had on October ten intercepted a private barge from Goa to Krishnapattinam with 14 crew members, for sailing through the Adam's Bridge. The barge was anchored at Rameswaram and the Tamil Nadu Mercantile Marine Department authorities were conducting investigations.

According to the port authorities, small vessels and barges, which wanted to travel to the east coast from the west coast, have to sail through the Pamban Pass after paying a fee. It was the only route certified by the Tamil Nadu Mercantile Marine Department, or else they had to take a circuitous route along Sri Lanka.

However, captains of some barges, familiar with the Palk Straits and Gulf of Mannar, have started sailing from the west coast to the east coast by crossing the Adam's Bridge following the depth created by dredging for the SSCP.

UNI

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