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Editorial: Stalin Cruises to Revive Sethusamudram

Chennai, 18 Jan 2023:

The debate on Ram Sethu, also known as Adam’s Bridge, has come up yet again. This time, the issue was raised by an Independent MP from Haryana, Kartikeya Sharma, in Rajya Sabha. In a reply to his query about scientific research on the structure, the government said, “If it is said in simple words, it is difficult to say that the real form of Ram Sethu is present there. However, there are some indications which suggest that the structure may be present there.”

To enhance economic prosperity, Tamil Nadu CM MK Stalin moved a resolution to revive the ambitious Sethu Samudra Canal project. It proposes to link Palk Bay and the Gulf of Mannar between India and Sri Lanka by creating a shipping canal.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin on Thursday moved a resolution to revive the Sethu Samudra Canal project and will seek the Centre’s support in implementing the project. The Sethu Samudra Canal project is seen as an ambitious project by the ruling DMK government as it would create a shipping route between India and Sri Lanka. The ambitious project proposes to link the Palk Bay and the Gulf of Mannar between India and Sri Lanka by creating a shipping canal. The resolution was passed unanimously.

“Due to political reasons, BJP opposed Sethusamudram Project. Former CM of TN, Jayalalitha was in favour of this project but suddenly changed her stand & filed a case against it,” the CM said while moving the resolution.

But the project has faced stiff opposition from pro-Hindu groups fearing that it may damage Ram Setu bridge, which connects Rameswaram to the Mannar island of Sri Lanka.

M K Stalin batted for reviving the project for the 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 Sethu, 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 to bring economic benefits to the state.

The chief minister had earlier accused the BJP government at the Centre of shelving the project under religious pretext. He said there would have been tremendous development had the project launched during the UPA regime been allowed. Also, the livelihood of fishermen and the coastal economy would have improved, he said.

The Sethu Samudra Canal project is essential to strengthen the economic development of Tamil Nadu and India. The project was originally conceived in the year 1860 by Commander Taylor at a cost of Rs 50 lakh. The project had been studied for years and was designed by various technical experts like Dr Ramasamy Mudaliar from Tamil Nadu in the year 1954.

During the Union Cabinet meeting held in 1964 and the high-level committee under the chairmanship of Dr Nagendra Singh, ICS in 1964. Various alignments were evaluated and project reports were prepared to implement the scheme without being detrimental to the environment.

During the regime of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had given permission to conduct the feasibility study of the project. The project was sanctioned in 2004 when the UPA government was in power.

Later on, the project was inaugurated by the then Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh in the presence of former Tamil Nadu CM M Karunanidhi and president of the UPA alliance Sonia Gandhi.

If implemented, the project would uplift the economy of Tamil Nadu, flourish the southern districts and would generate employment opportunities for the youth, Stalin opined.

Expressing concern over the Union government’s stand on the project, the House said that the continued delay in the execution of the project would be a stumbling block to the development and growth of Tamil Nadu. The House also expressed concerns that the attempts to further delay the implementation of this project by certain forces are against the interest of the nation’s growth.

Considering this, this House resolved that the Union Government should immediately come forward to implement this important Sethu Samudra Canal project without any further delay and the state government would provide all cooperation for the implementation of the project.

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