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Corrosion scare for space port

Chennai, Nov. 28: Sriharikota, which has launched many a satellite, may be paying a heavy price for it. For, India’s most prestigious space port is also its “most vulnerable” and corrosion-prone area.

Next on the list are Chennai, Goa, Mettupalayam (on the foothills of the Nilgiris) and Port Blair, Union surface transport and shipping minister T.R. Baalu said today.

Inaugurating a three-day international conference on corrosion, the minister cited scientific results to back his claim. If an MS (Mild Steel) plate 1.6 mm thick is exposed in Sriharikota, it “would vanish after 365 days”. In Chennai, a 0.5-mm MS plate would meet the same fate in a year, for Goa it is 0.45 mm and in Mettupalayam and Port Blair, a 0.30-mm plate would disappear, Baalu said.

The high corrosion rates in coastal areas are understandable, given the impact of the salty sea, but it is surprising that Mettupalayam, which is land-locked, is on the list, he told the conference organised by the India chapter of the US-based National Association of Corrosion Engineers (NACE).

Apart from rainfall pattern and relative humidity, a key factor contributing to corrosion is industrial pollution ' both air and liquid ' the minister said, adding that industries should upgrade their technology to reduce pollution levels.

Baalu said his ministry has grand plans for creating new infrastructure for ports, shipping and national highways. He called upon scientists and engineers to conduct in-depth studies on how to reduce the corrosion of materials needed for these “national assets”.

The annual loss arising from corrosion has been estimated at Rs 36,000 crore, which is 3 to 4 per cent of the nation’s GDP, Baalu said.

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