Sethu Canal

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Description:
The Sethu Canal, also known as the Sethu Samudram Ship Canal Project, was inaugurated on 2 July 2005, by Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India. This proposed navagational canal through a 19-mile (30 km) stretch of shallow sea in the Palk Strait would bypass passage around Sri Lanka. It would reduce the travel distance by some and transit time by some 36 hours, but is beset by a number of financial and ecological questions.

The canal was first proposed in the late 19th century during the British Raj, and finally on 13 March 2003, the Central Government of India, headed by then Prime Minister Vajpayee, gave the go ahead.

Pros and cons

Proponents say that the Sethu Samudram project will galvanize Indian shipping through the cheaper and shorter sea routes and will lead to further development of several Indian ports including Tuticorin, Nagapattinam and Rameshwaram. An adverse consequence for Sri Lanka would be the devaluation of Colombo, Galle and Trincomalee, but this could be offset by the development of Talai Mannar, Kankesanthurai and Point Pedro.

The Indian National Environmental Engineering Research Institute has completed an environmental management program on averting or minimizing damage to marine environment during construction. Environmentalists are concerned as the Gulf of Mannar Marine Reserve is one of India's most biologically diverse coastal regions. Over 3,600 species of plants and animals are found here. The sea grass beds along the coast are...
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