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Sethu security threat: Expert

Sethu security threat: Expert

Publication: Deccan Chronicle
Date: February 17, 2008

Retired Naval Captain H. Balakrishnan on Saturday said the implementation of the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project (SSCP) would pose a threat to the country's national security as maritime terrorism and sea piracy were getting inter-mingled. Speaking to reporters at a press conference organised by the Coastal Action Network, Mr Balakrishnan, who has three decades of experience at sea, endorsed the recent remarks by Coast Guard vice-admiral Rusi Contractor that the shipping canal project on completion would pose a threat to national security.

On the economic aspect, the retired naval officer said a ship would incur a loss of Rs 19.4 lakh for a trip 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 2,400 crore for a time-saving measure," Mr. Balakrishnan said. The canal is likely to encourage only vessels with a carrying capacity of about 30,000 tonnes, but currently the merchant ships are handling a cargo of more than 60,000 tonnes.

And oil ships, whose volume is high, will also avoid SSCP, he pointed out. Further, SSCP is an open channel and there is always a possibility of the LTTE setting up sea mines.

He also emphasised that the LTTE factor had a direct bearing on the safety of shipping navigation through SSCP. The banned outfit had control over most of the coastal waters of North Sri Lanka, he added.

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