TAMIL NADU

Sethusamudram project: "security aspects must be assessed"

MORE RESPONSIBILITIES: Commodore U.N. Chitnavis (right) Commander Coast Guard Region (East) addressing the media in Chennai on Tuesday. B.S.Yadav, DIG, Chief Staff Officer Coast Guard Region (East), looks on. — Photo: R. Ragu

MORE RESPONSIBILITIES: Commodore U.N. Chitnavis (right) Commander Coast Guard Region (East) addressing the media in Chennai on Tuesday. B.S.Yadav, DIG, Chief Staff Officer Coast Guard Region (East), looks on. — Photo: R. Ragu  

Additional responsibility for us, says Coast Guard Eastern Region Commander

Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: Coast Guard vessels sailing at 12 knots now take 63 hours to reach Tuticorin, which is 750 km from the Eastern region headquarters in Chennai. Once the Sethusamudram project is completed the ships will take less than half this time.

But once the project is completed, it will bring additional responsibility for the Coast Guard and the Navy. The Coast Guard Eastern Region Commander, Udit Narayan Chitnavis, said here that all aspects of security must be studied in detail consequent to the move to open the Sethusamudram channel. "I am not saying that anything will happen. But we have to be ready to face any threats," he told presspersons on Tuesday.

Speaking ahead of the two-day Coast Guard Region Commanders conference, he said the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam had been a threat in the past. "We need to look at traffic and what kind of threats there are."

Asked if this meant upgrading of the Mandapam station, he said there was no such move for now. On the question of making reallocations from the Coast Guard five-year plan and the perspective plan, he said the needs were being studied and wherever required, additional resources would be allocated.

On the Sethusamudram project, he said dredging the channel near the Palk Bay would be the major feature. "Dredging will also mean a lot of disruption to fishing activities... we have to look at an environment where either of them [the fishermen and the dredging work] do not get affected. I would presume that both the Coast Guard and the Navy have a major role to play in that demarcation so that dredging work is not hampered and at the same time fishing activity continues."

The Coast Guard was currently on standby duty at the mouth of the Visakhapatnam harbour where a Hong Kong-registered ship, MV Jinan, had run aground on June 30. "We have positioned ourselves there to ensure that there is no pollution because of oil leaks from the ship," he said adding that the process of unloading the ship was nearly complete. The ship is carrying 30,000 tonnes of steam coal. The unloading was being done to reduce the weight of the ship and try and sail it out during high tide. All the 26 crew on board were safe. Last month, the Coast Guard saved 10 sailors off Haldia as the ship, MV Fiaz, had caught fire in deep sea. Four persons, including the Captain's family died in the fire.

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