The National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) will carry out an environment impact assessment of the Sethusamudram channel, which aims to dredge a navigable link through the Palk Strait between India and Sri Lanka, an official statement said Thursday.
The ministry of shipping has asked the NIO to conduct the assessment on the recommendation of an expert committee set up by the Supreme Court under the chairmanship of R.K. Pachauri in July 2008.
To carry out the survey, the NIO has tied up with the Nagpur-based National Environmental Engineering Institute (NEERI) and the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore.
"The NEERI will conduct the EIA over land through which the proposed channel passes. The IIM will carry out cost-benefit analysis," the statement said.
The entire project, which will be anchored by NIO's regional centre in Kochi, is expected to cost Rs.9.45 crore and will be completed in 18 months.
"The project involves collection and examination of extensive year-round environmental data collection in the Gulf of Mannar, Palk Bay, Adam's Bridge and surrounding areas," said the statement.
"It will lead to significant improvement in understanding the oceanography of this little studied region, besides determining feasibility of the Sethusamudram Canal from the point of view of environment and economics," it said.
The Sethusamudram project plans to provide ships sailing between the east and west coasts of the country with a continuous navigable sea-route through India’s territorial waters, instead of having to circumvent Sri Lanka.
The project is facing opposition on environmental grounds. There is fear that the channel may result in tsunami waves hitting south Kerala more fiercely.
The dredging of Ram Sethu, a mythological bridge built by Lord Ram in the Palk Strait, has made the Bharatiya Janata Party oppose the project.