Opening of Pooneryn causeway urged
[TamilNet, Saturday, 29 March 2003, 13:28 GMT]
“The Sri Lankan government should take steps to
re-open the Kerathivu- Sangupiddy causeway to ease the
burden of the civilians living in western parts of
Vanni region," said that the President of the
Kilinochchi branch of the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society (SLRC),
Mr. P. Karthigesu, speaking to Tamilnet about recent
moves to further improve transport facilities between
Jaffna and the mainland.
“At least 2000 people would be able to travel daily
with much ease to villages and towns on the Vanni
western coast and its interior if the causeway is
opened to the public. People from Jaffna who travel to
these parts have to take very circuitous and difficult
routes to reach their destination now in the western
sector of the Vanni," Mr. Karthigesu said.
“We, along with several civil society groups, intend
to take up the matter through the Government Agent”,
Pooneryn is 34 kilometres from Jaffna if one travels
through the causeway. Now one has to reach Kilinochchi
and travel west from there on a dilapidated dirt road
– at least 40 kilometres more.
Mannar is 112 kilometres from Jaffna on the road along
the northwestern coast linked to the peninsula by the
causeway. Today travellers have to cover an extra 100
kilometres to get to Mannar from Jaffna.
The strategic causeway has remained closed to public
traffic since 1992 when the Sri Lanka army launched an
operation called Valampuri to secure the general area.
The operation was part of the SLA strategy to
‘strangulate’ the LTTE within Jaffna by cutting off
all possible access points to the peninsula.
The Liberation Tigers urged Colombo during peace talks
in 94-95 to shift the combined army-naval base
encompassing either side of the causeway so that it
could be opened to the public.
The Sri Lankan government refused. But pulled out the
base in September 1996, 14 months after the 94-95
talks broke down, to concentrate forces for a thrust
The work on the Mahatheva Causeway began in 1937. The
gap between the Kerathivu point, south of
Chavakachcheri and Sangupiddy on the mainland was
13700 feet when the construction commenced.
It was narrowed to 1300 feet by 1987. The depth on the
northern side of the gap was reduced to 11 feet and to
4-6 feet on the Sangupiddy side at the time.