Sethusamudram Project: The contentious one!
Tamil Nadu government reiterated that the Supreme Court should direct the centre to scrap the Sethusamudram project, as the Gulf of Mannar and surrounding areas are extremely eco-fragile and economically nonviable. The state also said that Ram Setu or Adam’s Bridge fulfills the natural and cultural criteria fixed by UNESCO, and implementation of the project would be a potential threat to this world renowned and unique structure. The Centre had earlier rejected the recommendations of the Pachauri Committee on the alternate plan. Pachauri Committee had concluded that the plan was nonviable.
In its report, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India has raised questions over the commercial viability of the project. According to the CAG, the traffic projections of the official data are not realistic.
The project, opposed by the DMK, was mainly conceptualised to dredge a shipping channel linking the Palk Bay and the Gulf of Mannar. However, the minimum draft of 10.5 meters that the Sethusamudram Corporation Limited (SCL) wanted to achieve would not have been sufficient for a majority of vessels, thus rendering the project unviable. Moreover, any effort to dredge the depth to accommodate higher vessel seizes would require a large amount of dredging in the Palk Bay region, which is an ecologically sensitive region. The present proposals for the project have mainly been made on unscientific judgments, without considering the impact-on-environment.
Originally, the Project was sanctioned, on June 1, 2005, at a cost of Rs. 2427 under the 10th Five Year Plan. A total quantity of 28.42 million cubic meter of dredging was also done in the Adam’s Bridge region, before the Supreme Court ordered to stop the work on the project.