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'Sethu project unscientific'

'Sethu project unscientific'

Publication: News Today
Date: February 16 2008
URL: http://newstodaynet.com/newsindex.php?id=5043%20&%20section=7

A retired Naval Officer and Master Mariner for the Merchant Navy H Balakrishnan on Saturday said the implementation of the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project (SSCP) was unscientific and would also pose a threat to country's national security as maritime terrorism and sea piracy were getting inter-mingled.

Balakrishnan who has 32 years of experience at sea, endorsed Coast Guard DG Vice Admiral Rusi Contractor's recent remarks that the project pose a threat to national security.

'Contractor is correct. I also analysed it. The project will pose a threat to national security as there is a piracy threat from Sudan, Straits of Malacca and South China sea', he added.

Quoting views of security experts, he said maritime terrorism and piracy were getting intermingled and going by the world report the global ransom rate per ship is one lakh US dollars.

Referring to the installation of the underwater sea mines by the Lankan government between Katchatheevu and Neduntheevu, he said it was to prevent Sea Tigers, the marine wing of the LTTE, from entering the Island Nation.

'SSCP is an open channel and there is always a possibility of LTTE setting up sea mines, which is much cheaper when compared to acquiring surface-to-surface missiles. It's enough if just one ship explodes', Balakrishnan said.

Observing that LTTE factor had a direct bearing on the safety of shipping navigation through the SSCP, he said the outfit had control over most of North Sri Lanka coastal region.

On the economic aspect, the Naval Officer said a ship would incur a loss of Rs 19.4 lakh for a voyage between Kolkata and Tuticorin via SSCP.

Similarly a ship will lose about US $ 60,000 for a voyage between Eden and Singapore. 'One cannot justify an expenditure to the tune of Rs 2400 crore for a meagre time- saving move', he said.

Scientists and experts who took part in the meet called upon the Centre to table a comprehensive and transparent White Paper on Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project in Parliament giving full facts on the economic viability, environmental and ecological sustainability and engineering feasibility of the project.

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