A detail project report had proposed construction of a slipway with repair facilities for repairing pilot and mooring launches in the vicinity of service jetty at Dhanushkodi.

Raja Simhan T.E.

Chennai, Dec. 19

SETHUSAMUDRAM Corporation Ltd (SCL) has dropped the idea of reclaiming 200 acres of lost land of Dhanushkodi, a coastal town near Rameshwaram island in southern Tamil Nadu, according to the corporation's Chairman and Managing Director, Mr N.K. Raghupathy.

"We had to drop the plan following opposition from local people during public hearing of the Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project (SSCP). We were planning to invest about Rs 100 crore on reclaiming the lost lands," he told Business Line.

Dhanushkodi was the closest point on the Indian coast to Sri Lanka, until it was washed away in 1964 in a devastating cyclone.

A detail project report on SSCP prepared by L&T-Ramboll Consulting Engineers Ltd had proposed construction of a slipway with repair facilities for repairing pilot and mooring launches in the vicinity of service jetty at Dhanushkodi.

Further, provision has been made for three fishing harbours in the region as a social welfare measure at a cost of Rs 60 crore, including development of Rameshwaram fishing harbour, the report said.

The Rs 2,427-crore SSCP, which is being implemented by SCL (a special purpose vehicle), envisages dredging of a 167-km channel along the Palk Straits, the Palk Bay, and Adam's Bridge between Sri Lanka and India to connect the Bay of Bengal and the Gulf of Mannar.

This would enable ships take a shorter route between the two countries instead of having to sail around Sri Lanka.

According to Mr Raghupathy, the flora and fauna in the canal would not be completely lost - there would be recovery in two or three years. Further, fishing activities would be allowed in the channel, he said.

The India Coast Guard and Navy are strengthening their presence in the region to provide additional security once the canal is operational. A naval station is planned at Tuticorin, he added.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated December 20, 2005)
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