Debating India


"Fishermen’s fortunes will look up"

Saturday 2 July 2005, by BAGCHI*Amiya Kumar, VIMAL KUMAR*R.

The Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project, which will offer a navigable route to ships from the country’s west coast and the Western countries to the ports on the east coast without having to circumnavigate Sri Lanka, has sparked a major debate.

N. K. Raghupathy, Chairman and Managing Director, Sethusamudram Corporation Limited, discusses the aspects of the project, including its economic benefits. He focussed on the 23 issues that came up at public hearings, including concerns over environment and the threat to the livelihood of fishermen along the Gulf of Mannar.

One of the major concerns was that fisherfolk at Arimunai and Dhanuskodi would be evacuated for acquisition of land for building administrative blocks for the SCL. "Though the project envisages construction of shore facilities such as service jetties, buoys yard and a repair workshop to cater for the needs of the channel at Adam’s Bridge, the land-based infrastructure would come up only on government land where there is no habitation."

On the apprehensions that fish breeding will be hit, Mr. Raghupathy says: "The project does not cause any disturbance to the breeding grounds either during the construction or during the operation, thanks to the stringent environment management plan to be followed."

Would the project affect the livelihood of fishermen? Certainly not, he said. "Instead, the canal could open up new vistas for fishing and thus catapult the socio-economic status of fisherfolks to greater heights." To enhance fishing activities in the region, four harbours were planned at Rameswaram and Thondi (Ramanathapuram district), Sethubavachathram (Thanjavur) and Mallipattinam (Nagapattinam) at a cost of Rs. 60 crores.

Mr. Raghupathy said post- tsunami studies revealed that the project would not have any adverse impact on the coastline.

He said though the project was scheduled to become operational from November 1, 2008, the Tuticorin Port Trust, nodal agency, would strive to expedite the commissioning within 30 months of the date of inauguration.

See online : The Hindu

SPIP | template | | Site Map | Follow-up of the site's activity RSS 2.0