2ND LEAD (Correction)

Indian High Commissioner discusses Canal Project in Mannar

[TamilNet, Monday, 04 July 2005, 10:22 GMT]
Ms Nirupama Rao, Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Monday visited Mannar and met high ranking navy officials in Thalaimannar, Government Agent of Mannar Mr V Viswalingam and UPFA Minister (SLMC rebel MP) Mr Rishard Badurdeen, and discussed issues related to Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project (SSCP), sources said. The SSCP attempts to create a navigable sea route between Gulf of Mannar and the Bay of Bengal within India’s own territorial waters.

Nirupama Rao
High Commmissioners visit to Mannar
Nirupama Rao
High Commmissioners visit to Mannar
Nirupama Rao
High Commmissioners visit to Mannar
Reporters were blocked from covering the meeting held at Thalaimannar Naval base which is defined as a High Security Zone, sources said.

Later, Ms Nirupama Rao spoke at a public meeting at Al-Mina Maha Vidyalayam in Tharapuram at 1.30 pm.

Reminding the similarites in the social life of the people in Tamil Nadu coast and Mannar coast, the Indian High Commissionar said India would help to initiate projects for the benefit of the people in the area.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday inaugurated the controversial SSCP project in Madurai. Government of Tamil Nadu, local fishermen and environmentalists boycotted the opening ceremony.

Environmentalists in Sri Lanka have been protesting against Sethusamudram Project claiming that there is a threat of ground water in the Jaffna Peninsular turning saline and that the deepening would trigger erosion of the Mannar coastline.

A leading geologist, Mr C P Rajendran of the Centre for Earth Science Studies, Thiruvananthapuram in India, was quoted as saying that the Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project is a "disaster in the making," according to a Press Trust of India (PTI) report Saturday.

In addtion to the pollution from ships and potential ecological disaster that may be caused by grounding of ships containing coal or oil in the narraw canal, Mr Rajendran also warned that the deepened canal would create a new deep water route for a future tsunami to reach the coastal areas that were unreachable by the December 26 tsunami.


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