Thursday, Jun 02, 2005
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RAMANATHAPURAM: The implementation of the Sethusamudram project has revived the hope that the ancient natural port at Thondi, 40 km. from here, will be developed.
The Pandya dynasty used the Thondi port on the Palk Strait to import and export goods from various countries, including Sri Lanka and Burma. Later, the port was used by the Cholas and the British. However, it lost its importance due to the lack of road and rail connectivity and inadequate hinterland development. Now, the Thondi port is being used only for fishing.
Though there were demands from all quarters to revive the port, nothing could be done.
During his recent visit to Rameswaram, Union Minister for Shipping T.R. Balu announced that his Ministry would establish two-multi purpose ports between Nagapattinam and Tuticorin, if the proposal originated from the Tamil Nadu Government.
Informed sources told The Hindu that Thondi or its nearby areas such as Mudiveeranpattinam and Vattanam were suitable for establishing full-fledged ports. Though the Palk Strait was shallow, there were a few deep-sea areas.
If these areas were dredged, they could be connected with the Sethusamudram canal, facilitating the movement of ships. The sources said Thondi was safer than any other area around the Gulf of Mannar or the Palk Strait. Even during the tsunami, there was no report of damage to property or life. Moreover, the East Coast Road, (Tamil Nadu Road Sector Project Road) being laid would touch Thondi. The ECR would connect Thondi with the rest of the country. This would facilitate mass movement of cargo.
Once the port was established, it could accelerate economic development of southern and central Tamil Nadu, including Ramanathapuram, Sivaganga, Madurai, Pudukottai, Tiruchi, and Karur.
Handling all commodities
"The Tuticorin port was established only to cater to the needs of the salt industry, but it is handling all sorts of commodities. Tuticorin district has seen real industrial development only after the port was established. Similarly, we need infrastructure development, such as a port, to lure entrepreneurs to establish industries in this region. Seafood processing industries, ship-breaking yards, the salt industry and others could see a real boost once the port is established," sources said.
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