TN Assembly unanimously adopts resolution urging the Centre to revive Sethusamudram project

The ruling government, DMK in Tamil Nadu wants the Sethusamudram Ship Canal project to be revived and urged the Centre to immediately implement the stalled project. Chief Minister MK Stalin, on Thursday, moved a resolution to this effect in the Assembly stating that the project is important to strengthen the economic growth of the State and the nation. It was passed unanimously.

The project is to link Palk Bay and the Gulf of Mannar between India and Sri Lanka by creating a shipping canal. It started in July 2005 at an estimated cost of around ₹2,500 crore but was stalled after protests by environmentalists and Hindu activists against the demolition of the Ram Setu, a symbol of heritage.

The revival of the project was one of the announcements made by the DMK in its Assembly Election Manifesto 2021. The project is at a standstill due to the inaction of the present government (BJP at the Center and the AIADMK at the State). DMK will complete the project as soon as the new government is formed and ensure economic benefits for all of southern Tamil Nadu, the manifesto said.

The project was originally conceived in 1860 by Commander Taylor at a cost of ₹50 lakhs. In 1998, the then-Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee allocated funds for the project. It was during the BJP regime that the path to the project was decided. In 2005, the project was inaugurated during the Congress rule when the DMK was part of the then-UPA government.

However, due to political reasons, the BJP opposed the project. Former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa was initially in favour of the project but changed her stand and filed a case against it, he said.

Chief Minister Stalin said that it was a dream project of the first DMK Chief Minister C.N. Annadurai. Kalaignar Karunanidhi had also actively taken interest in implementing the project. The project, he said, was included in the fourth five year plan and approved by the Cabinet meeting headed by the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. He said that Annadurai who became the Chief Minister in 1967 had wanted to implement the project saying that it would make Tamil Nadu a wealthy state.

Stalin said that the Rs 2427 crore was allocated in 2004 by the UPA government which also included the DMK. He said that the BJP government which was in power created hurdles when 50 percent of the work was over.

He said that if the project was implemented it would have lifted the economy of Tamil Nadu and provided employment to a large number of youths, especially from the southern states. The AIADMK and BJP however opposed the Chief Minister’s statement on Lord Rama as fictional character .

AIADMK leader, Pollachi V. Jayaraman said that Shri Rama was an avatar and not a fictional character as stated by the Chief Minister. BJP floor leader Nainar Nagendran said that the statement should be expunged as Lord Rama was worshipped as God.

At this, the Chief Minister replied that no one has criticised the God and people’s faith, adding that it was pointed out that faith was used to prevent the implementation of the faith.

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