Monday, September 1, 2008

Setu channel project: New alignment navigational hazard -- Capt. Balakrishnan

Setu channel project: New alignment a navigational hazard -- Capt. Balakrishnan

"New alignment unfavourable: Expert"(pp-5) by Kumar Chellappan (28 Aug. 2008, Deccan Chronicle, Chennai)

CHENNAI, AUG. 27: " The new alignment proposed for the Sethusamudram Shipping Channel Project (SSCP) is no better in terms of economy and environmental protection. Even after different permutations and combinations, this project is destined to be doomed because it does not make any sense", veteran navigator Captain Hariharan Balakrishnan has observed reacting to the suggestions made by the Supreme Court to the union government to find out the possibility of a new alignment for the controversial SSCP.

Capt. Balakrishnan said that the Bay of Bengal Pilot, the sailors' information handbook,which is an encyclopaedia on the Bay of Bengal, had exhaustive details about impediments to safe navigation in the area.

" The book gives a detailed account about the climatology, meteorology, wind speed, and list of ports in the region.The book says that high-speed winds keep shifting and blow from all parts of the compass.The wind in this region is of a swirling nature which can make a heavy vessel drift dangerously ", cautioned the former navy officer.

He said the geography of the ' new alignment ' was vulnerable to the infamous Venturi Effect. " High velocity winds blowing through the area which resembles a geographical funnel will make the ships drift away from their steered courses. I myself have experienced the same while commanding a ship in the area. Larger the ship the greater and more rapid will be the drift ", said Captain Balakrishnan. He said no sailor worth his salt would prefer this sea route.

He said though in normal circumstances the drift could be prevented by increasing the speed, it was not feasible in a narrow stretch of channel like SSCP.

" Yet another drawback with the new alignment is its close proximity to shore. The ships will sail at a distance of just 3.5 nautical miles from the shore which is not prudent navigation ", he pointed out.

The captain reiterated his stance that the expenditure incurred by ships sailing through the new alignment would benefit neither the ships not the SSCP.

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