April 2008

Vol 7 - No. 10
























Environment | April 2008



News Briefs
SAS launches an aggressive environmental strategy

Impact on the Environment - Manitham Report

This whole Setusamudram Shipping Channel Project (SSCP) area is a biologically rich and rated among the highly productive sea of the World. The SSCP could cause huge impact to the Ocean Ecosystem Says Manitham Report.

The total length of the SSCP in the Palk Bay is 152.2 Kms. It is divided into three legs. The Southern leg in the Adam's Bridge area is 20 Kms. The Northern leg in the Palk Strait area is 54.2 Kms. The Central portion is 78 Kms. Dredging is to be carried out in the Southern and Northern legs.


There will be a dredge of sea floor of 12.8 meter deep, 300 meter wide for 2 way traffic. If this happens to be sudden, tilt in the sea bed, may cause numerous violent process, as like; a major change in drift, possible change in gravitational pull etc.


This whole SSCP area is a biologically rich and rated among the highly productive sea of the World. The zooplankton was dominated by copepod. Macrobenthos were represented by 78 varieties, meiofauna comprised larval polychaetes, nematodes, worms and shrunken bodies of a new forms.

Coral Reefs

Coral reef system as also the ecosystem of the tropical rain forest, are the most matured marine ecosystems of our planet. They play an important role in global biochemical processes and in the reproduction of food resources in the tropical regions. Coral reefs act as a barrier against wave action along coastal areas thus preventing coastal erosion. In addition, coral reefs protect mangroves and sea grass beds in certain areas, which are the breeding and nursing grounds of various economically important fauna. Coral reefs are also important breeding, spawing, nesting, and feeding areas for many economically important varieties of fishes and other marine organisms. Coral reefs are a distinctive shoreline habitat of stunning visual appeal found only between latitudes 30oN and 30oS. They grow only where sea surface temperatures are above 20oC, the seabed is kept silt-free by prevailing currents and waves, and there is intense surface sunlight. Most living coral communities do not grow at depths of more than 50 m, although some grow at depths of 100 m. The people living along the coast obtain a considerable proportion of their food and earnings from the productivity of coral reefs. Coral reef ecosystems are very sensitive to external impacts both natural and manmade, which violate their homeostasis (Sorokin 1992). Mangrove, sea-grass and sea algal eco-systems have not been affected much by the acts of anti-environmental elements; the important coral reef system continues to be targeted. According to the Wildlife Warden of the Gulf of Mannar National Park, Naganathar, [The Hindu, Tuesday, Jun 08,2004] that the Forest department officials could not take any action against the `so-called groups' because the matter was in court. Considering the importance of preserving the eco-system, the department would prefer an appeal in the Madras High Court to get vacated the stay, which was in favour of limestone industrialists, he said. Environmentalists feel that unless tough action is initiated against the "anti-environmentalists," the lives of nearly five lakh fishermen would be affected. For, breeding and feeding of fish cannot take place in the absence of coral reef, which serves as a habitation for more than 750 fish varieties. In GOM, Geomorphologically, coral reefs in this area are of fringing type, though some patchy corals are also observed in between Appa Island and Pilliyarmuni Island, and in some areas like Bharathi nagar coast and southeast coast of Kariya Shuli Island. The major causes of coral reef degradation are:

    - Over fishing and destructive fishing practices
    - Sea weed collection
    - Commercial shell collection
    - Coral mining
    - Poor land use practices
    - Coastal urban development
    - Harbour and dredging activities
    - Industrial development and pollution

Rainfall in both GOM and PS is estimated around 900 mm annually. This is due to coral reef as per scientist version.

According to the above reports, Sethu Samuthram project implementation may destruct coral reefs which, in turn, would tend to cause:

    - High sea tides
    - Surges might occur
    - Hurricane, cyclone etc might take place

National Marine Park or Biosphere Reserve

The Tamil Nadu Forest Department and the Ministry of External Affairs have already declared 21 islands in 623.12 hectors, as National Marine Parks. But now the Government of India through the NEERI says that the proposed alignment will be far away from this National Marine Park. i.e., 'Van Tivu' - the nearest island will be about 6 km and 'Shingle' island will be 20 km.

Marine Mammals: Rare Species like sea turtles, dolphins, sea cows, sacred sharks, thorny sea horse*, dugongs and whales are already located and these areas said to be their natural habitat and grazing region. There are also dangers of oil spills and other forms of pollution.

One expert from Sri Lanka Lareef Zubair, formerly of the Institute of Fundamental Studies, Kandy, wrote in a Sri Lankan newspaper 'Daily News' dated 07-04-1999, that the SSCP would disturb the marine life in the Palk Strait 'gravely'.


We have come to know in our life time itself that Dhanskodi, a part of India's coastal area submerged in 1964 due to land submission. In the Sangam period, we have learnt about the city of Poompukar etc.

Even though the NEERI reports deny the existence of archaeological structures under the sea bed, we insist to investigate more on this. Otherwise, after the dredging, there is possibility of loosing the archeological treasures that may be lying beneath the sea.


A fear has also been expressed that, after the Gulf of Mannar is dredged to cut the ship canal, nearly 85 islets in the Western coastal region of Sri Lanka will be submerged into the sea. According to Oceanographers' view, Indian Ocean around the tip of the Indian peninsula is an ancient area in natural transition which has not yet completed its full formation. This section is the most complex relief and the earth crust is still in motion. According to Mr. K. Arulandam, Oceanographer at the National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency [NARA], since implementation of the project would cause an impact on environment affecting marine life, remedial measures should be taken.

[Source: Manitham - Interim Report]

News Briefs

SAS announced the launch of an aggressive environmental strategy aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 20% from 2007 levels by 2020. The airline group said it will reach the target, which assumes passenger growth of 4% annually, by "implementing energy enhancements and mixing jet fuel with renewable sources."

It said reaching the targeted reduction "requires a large number of short-term and long-term activities" by both it and the global aviation industry, including developing new technologies such as alternative fuels and the building of new aircraft "with improved aerodynamics and more efficient engines," infrastructure upgrades such as implementation of the Single Sky EU ATC system and lowering fuel consumption in daily operations. In addition to efforts regarding air operations, SAS plans by 2011 for its various airlines and ground-handing operations to employ "only environmentally friendly cars." 
(Source: Air Transport World)



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