White paper on SSCP sought

White paper on SSCP sought

V Sundaram | Tue, 05 Feb, 2008 , 03:36 PM

The Catalyst Trust, a non-political and non-sectarian organisation, has demanded a white paper on SSCP from the Government of India.

The trust was formed in Chennai in 1997 to further good governance through research, education, fieldwork etc and any other object of public utility but not involving any activity for profit.

It is non-political and non-sectarian, and seeks to focus on issues of common concern.

According to The Catalyst Trust, the Government of India  have given their final clearance for SSCP at a cost of nearly Rs 2600 crore without carefully analysing the implications, repercussions and ramifications of SSCP with particular reference to the following vital and strategic factors/ issues including environmental and ecological factors, security implications, navigational and allied factors, financial viability, fishermen’s livelihood factors.

Environmental factors and ecological factors:
It is clear from the  report of the technical committee headed by Prof M Ravindran, former Director National Institute of Ocean Technology, Chennai relating to ‘Analysis of the Environment related issues of the Sethusamudram Ship Canal (SSCP) Project’ as also from the report submitted by the ‘The movement against Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project’ that the following issues have not been adequately addressed –  Data on Marine Fishery Resources, Identification of potential fishing grounds, Fish catch data,  Assessment of bacterial water quality / Microbial population, Sea bed sediments, Channel depth and width – Suitability of the channel for navigation under maximum waves and wind speed conditions, Data on Oil spills, Impact due to bridging and dumping, Impact during operation of the canal , Impact of the oil spill and Navigational safety for ships.

The above are some of the major environmental concerns relevant to the SSCP that have not been adequately addressed.

Security Implications:

A perusal of the paper ‘The Sethu Samudram Ship Canal Project – (SSCP) – A Mariner’s Perspective’ by Capt (Retd) H Balakrishnan, IN discloses the following concerns – the report on feasibility of the Sethu Samudram Ship Canal Project has been prepared without bestowing, sufficient, attention to issues of Maritime terrorism.

The impact of the LTTE factor on ships navigating through the SSCP. These factors will have to be addressed before proceeding further with the project.

Navigational and allied factors:
A perusal of the papers ‘The Sethu Samudram Ship Canal Project – (SSCP) – A Mariner’s Perspective’ by Capt (Retd) H. Balakrishnan, I N goes to show that the investments made in the construction of the SSCP would be unjustified from the navigational and economic stand points amongst others.

Financial viability:
An article by Jacob John entitled ‘Sethusamudram Canal: An Expensive Voyage?’ Published in Economic and Political Weekly dated 21 July, 2007 throws serious doubts on the economic viability of the Sethusamudram Canal Project.

Livelihood of Fishermen:
A Perusal of the report submitted by ‘The movement against the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project’ points out that the project will have a disastrous impact on the biodiversity and livelihood in the area and would destroy the livelihood of the traditional fishermen leading to poverty.

The report further points out that while the project would cost around Rs 3000 crores and 2 per cent of this would be used for rehabilitation, the loss of fishing resources and earnings for 70,000 families per month would be anything above Rs 21 crore.

N L Rajah, secretary, The Catalyst Trust, has requested the Government of India in consultation with the Government of Tamilnadu to prepare and present a detailed and comprehensive ‘white paper’ giving full facts on the above stated issues of the SSCP to allay widespread public apprehensions about economic viability, environmental and ecological sustainability, engineering feasibility and ethical acceptability of the SSCP in the larger interest of truth, information and public enlightenment.



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