The Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project (SSCP), ever since it was mooted in 2004, it has been a target of criticism from environmental advocates as well as religious enthusiasts. Are there any scientific reasons behind its opposition? Critically analyze.

Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project (SSCP) was mooted in 2004 by the UPA government. The objective of the project is to create a shipping route in the shallow straits between India and Sri Lanka. Since it was mooted in 2004, it has been a target of criticism from environmental advocates as well as religious enthusiasts. Apart from this there are scientific reasons to oppose the project. They are

  • The construction of the project is planned in Palk Bay which is a region of Sediment Sink. The region where canal passes, are thought to have variable sedimentation rates. Even today, the sedimentation dynamics within the bay is not completely understood. For example, scientists don’t know the net annual quantity of sediment transported within the basin nor the pattern in which it is deposited. This raises serious concerns about how the dredging will be maintained.
  • The proposed area for the project is vulnerable to cyclonic storms. Proper studies are not conducted how a cyclonic storm will change the sedimentary budget of the Ram Sethu region. Cyclones could necessitate a reevaluation of the amount of dredged material to be dumped at various sites.
  • Sedimentation Patterns and their rates are not fully understood by the scientists.
  • The dredged material that is obtained during construction of project can be disposed safely, without harming terrestrial or marine ecosystems. Till now there is no plan where the dredged material is to be dispose.
  • The coral reef platforms between Thoothukudi and Rameswaram in the Gulf of Mannar are notified as a marine biosphere reserve of India. If the project becomes a reality then it will be the final body blow to this sensitive environment. 
Question for UPSC Mains:
The Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project (SSCP), ever since it was mooted in 2004, it has been a target of criticism from environmental advocates as well as religious enthusiasts. Are there any scientific reasons behind its opposition? Critically analyze.

Published: December 10, 2017 | Modified:June 27, 2019

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