What is Sethusamudram Project

What is Sethusamudram Project

Sethusamudram is a shipping canal project, which involves digging and dredging 83 km-long shipping canal in shallow waters linking Palk Strait and the Gulf of Mannar. The canal is located in waters between the Indian State of Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka.

The canal was originally conceived by Alfred Dundas Taylor in 1860, but was not implemented. The project was approved by the GOI in 1997 and was inaugurated in 2005. But religious and environmental concerns were raised which delayed the project. Religious concern was the protection of Ram Sethu which is located on the way of the canal. After addressing these concerns the project is being implemented now and may be completed by 2024. The total present cost of the project is Rs. 30000 crores.

The project when completed would save eight hours of shipping time for ships crossing East to West or vice versa. The ship will not have to move around the entire Sri Lanka Coast for moving East-West.

What is its Strategic Importance over China?
1. In recent years China has made huge investments in developing port infrastructure in Hambantota and Colombo port city project in Colombo port. China wants to make its strategic presence in Sri Lanka by developing Colombo port city on the patters of Singapore. China’s strategic presence in Sri Lanka is a major security concern for India. Therefore India’s presence through the canal project would balance China’s presence in Sri Lanka. India will have additional monitoring of Chinese activities in the region.

2. At present majority of the ships from Africa, Europe or the Middle East headed for the Pacific region pass through the Sri Lanka ports. After development of the Sethusamudram project, these foreign ships would use shorter routes through the canal. This would undermine the economic significance of Sri Lankan Ports, where China is investing funds. So the operation of these ports may not be a lucrative business for China and Sri Lanka in the future.

In brief, Sethusamudram project would give a considerable strategic advantage to India over China.

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