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'Where is the mud you have taken out through dredging?'

September 26, 2007

The Coastal Action Network, which boasts of eminent members like Justice V R Krishna Iyer, Justice Rajinder Sachar, lawyer Indira Jaisingh and activist Dr Vandana Shiva, has been fighting against the Sethu Samudram Project for several years. According to the CAN, the project will affect the livelihoods of fishermen living in the coastal areas and it will irreparably damage the unique biosphere of the region.

O Fernandes, the co-convenor of CAN and director of the Human Rights Advocacy and Research Foundation, tells why the Sethu project is a complete wastage of tax payers' money

When I met you two years ago, the Sethu Samudram Canal Project had just been inaugurated and you were fighting to stop its implementation for the sake of the local fishing community. Dredging has been going on in the area for quite some time. How will you describe the last two years of the Coastal Action Network?

People living in the coastal area, from Chennai to Tuticorin, have organised themselves now. They have become aware of the implications of the project and they are totally against it.

The government claims that 40 per cent of the work on the canal has been done. We have repeatedly asked the government to show us the images of whatever has been done, or show them to the media. The government claims that the work has not affected the environment in any way, but it has failed to show us any photographic images.

We have asked the government, "Where is the mud you have taken out through dredging? Where have you dumped it? Give us longitudinal and latitudinal data so that we can check.

You mean they have not done any dredging?

They have done the work but it is in the sedimentation tank area. As they have not done sedimentation dynamics of the area, the sand closes up again. The sand is constantly moving and it is impossible to dig a canal in the Palk Straits.

In fact, a monitoring vessel which was following the dredging ship three hours later, sank after hitting sand shoals formed because of sedimentation. Of course, they said it was due to some engine problem but that's not the truth.

Text: Shobha Warrier
Image: The NASA image of the Ram Sethu/Adams Bridge.

Also read: 'Widening Rama Sethu can amplify tsunamis'

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