Thursday, July 07, 2005
When they played the national anthem at the end of the inaugural ceremony of the Sethusamudram project, i felt cynical... unlike most other times, when i have to liquidate that lump in my throat. Union Minister T R Baalu and his friends, have set the wheels in motion for a project that could be environmentally disastrous and economically unviable. Yet, they (the politicians) all stood on that stage, indifferent, ignorant and silent.
The Sethusamudram Ship canal project envisages the dredging of a 167 kilometre long, 12 metre deep, 300 metres wide channel in the sea. This channel will connect the shallow waters between the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Straits. The Gulf of Mannar is a bio-reserve with some very rare species of marine life and corals. With the churning of the ocean bed, biologists fear the marine park will die. But the environment was never on any political partys agenda so its hardly surprising that the MoEF has given the project the green signal.
So forget the environment, lets talk money. Maritime specialists warn that this project could be one big white elephant. Ships are getting bigger and 60 to 70% of the traffic coming to the region is still likely to go around Sri Lanka because the channel is too small to accomodate them.
But, sources say, T R Baalu is not in the mood to listen. Within the system, orders have been sent down the line for everyone to shut up. If you're wondering why, the answer is not far to seek -- Votes. Elections. Politics. Environmental activist, T Mohan says, "Such a huge project means contracts and kickbacks....politicians just get to expand their sphere of influence."
Through a sucessful media campaign political parties over the years have established the Sethusamudram project in peoples minds as something of a goose that lays golden eggs. They have been told it will provide jobs, industrialise southern TN and galvanise the economy. And since the turnaround time on the project is so vast, even if it flops miserably, the people who were in power and had once made tall promises will not be around to provide any answers.
Wonder what the politicians on stage were thinking of when the national anthem played.
Posted by Alaphia Zoyab at Thursday, July 07, 2005