Friday, March 21, 2008

Demolition of Setu will lead to disaster: Expert

Demolition of Sethu\'ll lead to disaster: Expert

Chennai (Deccan Chronicle, 21 March 2008)

The country's top environmental scientist has warned that the demolition of the Adam's Bridge (Ramar Setu) for constructing the Sethusamudram Shipping Channel Project is a surefire recipe for ecological disaster. Prof C.S.P. Iyer, who led the Department of Atomic Energy's (DAE) scientific team for more than three decades and who chaired the Centre For Marine Analytical Reference and Standards (C-MARS) told this newspaper that the proposal to link Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea through the Sethu Channel would lead to an ‘ecological disaster' of the worst kind because water differed from ‘sea to sea'.

"The Gulf of Mannar (GoM), which has been declared as the world's rarest bio diversity reserve by UNESCO will be destroyed by this action. The project envisages the demolition of Adam's Bridge which will result in the mixing up of the waters of the Gulf of Mannar and Palk Bay," said Prof Iyer.

Having done extensive research on the chemistry of water water in land as well as in sea, he pointed out that the water in GoM was very different from that of Palk Bay. "The salinity, temperature, acidity, nutrients, productivity and bio diversity differ in Gulf of Mannar and Palk Bay. The moment the waters get mixed up, the entire ecology will be disturbed and that's the end of it," said Prof Iyer.

Prof Iyer, an emeritus professor at the Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management (IIITM), pointed out that the GoM harboured more than 3600 species of identified and unidentified flora and fauna. "Many endangered species like sea turtles, sea cow, and sea horse could be found only in the GoM. The Palk Bay has more than117 species of sea grass. It is the sea grass which protect the Tamil Nadu coast and provide shelter to sea cows," said Prof Iyer.

The DAE scientist said he strongly felt that the Adam's Bridge was a natural formation. "It is the naturally formed reef barriers which keep the waters of GoM and Palk Bay separated. Once we demolish this structure, the two water regimes will get mixed and the fragile ecology of the entire area would be impaired," he said.

He also said the Channel which requires dredging would cause turbidity. "This will destroy the valuable corals of the region. There is no way you can save the corals once you start the dredging. Though the sea is full of energy, it is equally sensitive," said Prof Iyer who is an authority on the chemistry of ocean water.

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