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September 24, 2007 / lazybug

Sethusamudram – Swaminathan Aiyar’s Take

You can always expect Swaminathan Aiyar, an economist who also writes a weekly column in the Times of India’s Sunday edition, to come up with a unique perspective on economic issues. So, when the whole nation is debating the existence or non-existence of Lord Ram, Aiyar comes up with a common sense approach to the issue. In his column dated 23rd Sep, 2007, he provides enivronmental and economic reasons for opposing the project. He questions the very basis of such a project and the so called economic benefits it’d bring.

The Suez and Panama Canals save ships thousands of miles, and that makes them profitable. Sethusamundaram is not remotely comparable. It is designed for small ships (the project documents talk of 20,000 DWT), whereas the Panama Canal takes ships of up to 65,000 DWT and Suez takes ships up to 150,000 DWT.

The Suez and Panama canals were dug through land corridors, and once dug stayed dug – they did not face sand inundation from the sea. However, Sethusamundaram will be a furrow in the sea-bed, at the constant mercy of currents bearing sand.


My own major fear is not so much that the project will ruin the environment, but that the environment will ruin the project. I fear that ocean currents will keep dumping fresh sand in the furrow of the canal. The Palk Straits are shallow not by accident but because sand-bearing currents have made them so. Combating the full force of nature is perilous, expensive and sometimes impossible.”

Certainly food for thought and has taken my mind away from the politics being played around the issue, first by the BJP and then by DMK.

Meanwhile, a huge debate has been raging back at the Freehyderabad forums I frequent.

Link to the article via IndiaUncut.



Leave a Comment
  1. ramya / Sep 26 2007 9:01 am

    I concede with your thought that not so much harm to environment will be done, as much nature would retreat back.Dont the engineers and scientists involved in the project look at such issues,which seem most logical and foremost when a huge project is constructed, if at all?

  2. lazybug / Sep 26 2007 9:09 am

    That’s why I feel that there’s more to this milieu than meets the eye!

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