CHENNAI: Even as the State government is seeking immediate implementation of Sethusamudram project, Poovulagin Nanbargal, an environmental organisation, has raised alarm that the project will damage biodiversity of Gulf of Mannar.
In a statement, the organisation said that parties like BJP and AIADMK had opposed the project to garner political mileage when it was announced earlier. “It’s saddening that democratic forces in the State try to implement the project only because communal forces opposed the project,” it added.
The statement added that ill-effects of the project is higher than the benefits. As the project would be implemented in Gulf of Mannar, Palk Strait and Palk Bay, 89 km of sea will be dredged. “The Gulf of Mannar has been announced as biosphere reserve and 4,223 species thrive in the sea. There are endangered sea mammals like dugong and dolphins. In February, the government created Dugong Reserve at Rs 5 crore,” it said.
The statement pointed out that 2 out of the 21 islands were submerged due to climate change and has damaged the corals. If the coral reef removed, it’d result in submersion of remaining islands.
“Economically, the project will not benefit much, as only vessels below 30,000 tonnes can use the canal. As speed should be reduced while traversing, it’d increase fuel cost. Setu Canal will only reduce 30 hours and 424 nautical miles,” the organisation said.
Contradicting the claims of the government that the project will provide employment, Poovulagin Nanbargal said that livelihood of fishermen in 140 villages will be affected. “People will be made to move from self-sufficient economy to employees of private firms,” it added.