CHENNAI : The ruling DMK in Tamil Nadu has called for reviving the Sethusamudram Ship Canal project in the wake of the Centre’s claim on the presence of the real form of Ram Setu in Rameswaram. Chief Minister Shri M K Stalin batted for reviving the project for economic prosperity of the nation and enhancing the freight handling capacity of Indian ports.
The project, which was started on July 2, 2005 at an estimated cost of Rs 2,500 crore, came to a standstill after protests by environmentalists and Hindu activists against the demolition of the Ram Setu, a symbol of heritage.
The DMK had in the run-up to the 2021 Assembly election promised to complete the project when it comes to power for bringing economic benefits for southern Tamil Nadu.
Accusing the BJP government at the Centre of shelving the project under religious pretext, the Chief Minister said there would have been tremendous development had the project launched during the UPA regime been allowed.
“You know who stopped the Sethusamudram ship canal project. It was the BJP. Union Minister Shri Jitendra Singh had informed the Rajya Sabha that it can’t be said for sure that Ram Setu existed in Rameswaram,” he said after launching the autobiography of former Union minister and senior DMK leader T R Baalu, ‘Pathaimara Payanam’, on Saturday.
Baalu was the key force behind the Centre launching the project. “Had this project not been shelved, then Tamil Nadu would have benefited a lot,” Stalin claimed at the event.
“Not only Tamil Nadu but the project would have been the pride of India,” he said. The country’s foreign exchange reserves would have increased, it would have promoted industrial development, and enhanced the state’s capacity to handle freight, he said.
Also, the livelihood of fishermen and the coastal economy would have improved. “But all the growth was stopped by the BJP and its ally the AIADMK,” the Chief Minister alleged and urged Baalu, who had then held the Shipping portfolio, to take steps to revive it to ensure the dream of former chief ministers C N Annadurai and M Karunanidhi materialised.
The ambitious project proposes to link the Palk Bay and the Gulf of Mannar between India and Sri Lanka by creating a shipping canal.
Lauding Baalu for being consistently attached to the DMK ideology for about six decades, Stalin urged party functionaries to maintain a record of events for posterity.
Recalling his cherished association with him, Stalin, who is DMK President, said: “Baalu always remained steadfast to the DMK principles – one flag, one leadership, one organisation and a never changing path – best describes him.”