The project involves cutting of a ship channel to connect Gulf of Mannar and Bay of Bengal so that most of the ships moving between east and west coasts of India can have navigable sea route around the peninsula within India’s territorial waters, without circumventing Sri Lanka. But officials say that even after the completion of the project, the depth of the channel between the two nations will only be 12 metre and big vessels like very large crude carriers (VLCCs) won’t be able to pass through the channel. “Only medium-size or empty vessels will be able to pass through it,”. Sethusamudram Corporation Ltd has been constituted for the implementation of the project. Once the project is completed, it is expected that the sailing time and distance for ships between East and West coast would be considerably reduced
THREAT OF TSUNAMI IN KERALA
The project will have serious adverse impact in Kerala Coast. The Bay of
Bengal entrance of a sea canal project linking India's coasts should be
realigned from facing east to northwest to protect the Kerala coast from future
tsunamis, says a renowned expert on the phenomenon.
The present orientation of the Sethusamudram canal will "funnel tsunami energy into the channel and this will meet (any) tsunami travelling from the south of Sri Lanka at the southern end of Kerala," Tad S. Murty, an advisor to the government of Canada and an expert on tsunami, told a journalist and an environmental activist in an interview here last month.
He added that this would increase the height of tsunami waves along the Kerala coast.
"It is very easy to show that the canal will indeed provide another route for tsunamis and the energy will be directed towards south Kerala," Murty told journalist Asuran and activist Ramesh Radhakrishnan.
His comments were made available to IANS.
Murty had helped develop a simulation model of the Dec 26 tsunami, which killed over 220,000 people worldwide and about 10,000 in India.
In February, his paper titled Perspectives on Coastal Hazard Preparedness had set the tone for a workshop at the National Institute of Oceanography.
In his interview, Murthy said: "The southern part of Kerala was not much impacted by the Dec 26 tsunami mainly because the tsunamis that arrive from
the Indian Ocean have to diffract around Sri Lanka, which necessarily have to take a very wide turn and missed Kerala."
This is because tsunamis are long gravity waves and cannot bend as easily as short waves, just like a big car versus a mini. A mini can cut corners, but a big car has to take very wide turns.
"A re-orientation of the eastern entrance of the channel towards the northwest will fix the tsunami problem," he added.
The Tuticorin Port Trust, which is executing the channel project, does not think a realignment is necessary.
"(This) I absolutely disagree with. I have analysed the problem to my complete satisfaction," Murty maintained.
He cited the example of the Alberni canal on Vancouver Island in British Columbia.
"The Sethusamudram canal has many characteristics similar to the Alberni canal, and this is the reason I am concerned.
"In the March 28, 1964, Alaska earthquake tsunami, outside of Alaska the largest tsunami amplitude was at the head of the Alberni canal well inland and not at the open coast as everyone expected. Later, I explained this was due to (a phenomenon known as) quarter wave resonance amplification," Murty explained.
Opponents describe the Rs.24 billion Sethusamudram project as an ecological disaster as it will upset the delicate balance in the Gulf of Mannar region.
--Indo-Asian News Service
ADVERSE EFFECT ON SRI LANKA
View of Lankans
[18 July 2005]