Indo-Lanka Bridge across Palk Strait proposed
Two Lankan Academics Mutukrishna Sarvananthan and Gayasha Samarakoon have proposed to discourage the proposed ferry service between Tamilnadu and Northern province in Sri Lanka and instead revive of Indo-Lanka Bridge across Palk Strait. This proposal also is the shortest and cheapest route that will boost trade and tourism between the two countries.
“Revival of Indo-Lankan plan to build a road and rail 23 km bridge across the Palk Strait came into discussion once again this year and this proposal should be pursued.”
Rebuilding the 23 km drive would allow travel between the two countries in less than one hour. Hence this proposal is more viable than establishing a ferry service between Thalaimannar and Dhanushkody,” the two Lankan Academics said.
Two Lankan Academics highlighted that the alternative (ferry Service) could potentially cause environmental damage and perhaps cost more as it requires dredging a ship canal connecting the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait to facilitate the ferry service.
They point out that the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project (SSCP) envisages cutting a 45 nautical-mile (51.7 miles or 83.2 km) long deep-water canal, connecting the shallow Palk Strait with the Gulf of Mannar is a huge and costly project.
Sarvananthan and Samarakoon argue that a bridge linking India and Sri Lanka across the Palk Strait will achieve the same goal at less cost and without harming the environment. The authors describe that currently, the Indian tourists arrivals are progressing and many Sri Lankans are in the offing to travel to India for pilgrimage, tourism and business. Further, lower transport costs would also depress the prices of goods which in turn would lower the cost of living in both countries.
Muttukrishna Sarvananthan is the Founder and Principal Researcher of the Point Pedro Institute of Development, Point Pedro, Northern Province while Gayasha Samarakoon is currently a doctoral student in the School of Civil Engineering at The University of Queensland, Australia. The Governments of India and Sri Lanka signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to build a bridge across the Palk Strait in July 2002 to join the island nation with the mainland of South Asia by road and rail.
The bulk of the trade between Sri Lanka and India takes place via sea, between Colombo and Chennai, Colombo and Kolkata, Mumbai, and Tuticorin ports. According to traders, if the proposed bridge becomes a reality, the transport cost could be halved.
The authors claim that the Sethusamudram project (SSCP) mainly aims to create a sea link between the western and eastern coasts of India so that ships can avoid going around Sri Lanka. “This will also result in reducing maritime revenue to Sri Lanka.”