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'Sethusamudram project would benefit only a few DMK leaders': BJP TN chief Annamalai
Chennai: BJP Tamil Nadu unit chief Annamalai on Friday said the Sethusamudram waterway project straddling India and Sri Lanka would only benefit a few shipping companies owned by leaders of the ruling DMK.
The BJP leader posted a series of tweets, hitting out at Chief Minister MK Stalin and voicing opposition to the Sethusamudram project. The Opposition BJP, as well as Hindu seers, have expressed concerns over the waterway project claiming it will cause harm to the Ram Setu bridge.
Posting details of a press briefing earlier in the day, Annamalai took to Twitter saying, "(The) BJP conducted a press meeting to clarify to the people of Tamil Nadu how @CMOTamilnadu misled the assembly with half-truths and lies about the Sethu Samudram Project. Accepting the resolution should not be misconstrued as an acceptance of Alignment 4a."
"BJP stated categorically that we will not let this project proceed under alignment 4a (Destruction of Ram Setu will not be allowed for the execution of this project)," Annamalai posted.
He added that the fact-finding team commissioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to study the feasibility of the project, is yet to make its submission on Ram Setu.
Targeting CM MK Stalin, the BJP state unit chief said the latter ignored a Tsunami expert's advice and continued with the project.
"@CMOTamilnadu also ignored the advice of Tsunami expert Prof Tad S Murthy, who said destruction to Ram Setu could cause a Tsunami in this region," Annamalai said, adding that former CM J Jayalalithaa had also pointed out that the Sethusamudram canal cannot handle large cargo shipments.
"Also, the Sethusamudram project might only benefit the shipping companies owned by DMK leaders, TR Baalu and Kanimozhi," Annamalai said in a tweet.
Earlier, on Thursday, Stalin adopted a resolution in the Assembly on the Sethusamudram project.
"The Sethusamudram project will create jobs for 50,000 people. Our former CM Kalaignar Karunanidhi had said as much," the DMK president said.
Calling out attempts to scuttle the project, Stalin said, "Sethusamudram is Anna and Kalaingar's dream project. Under the BJP government, only one waterway of the Sethusamudram project has been planned so far. The Prime Minister at the time (Atal Bihari Vajpayee) allocated funds for developing this waterway. It is only because of political reasons that the BJP opposed the Sethusamudram project. Then CM Jayalalitha was in favour of the Sethusamudram project but, all of a sudden, she, too, changed her stand and filed a case against the project."
Responding to the Assembly resolution, Hindu seers said the project is against the 'Sanatan Dharma'.
Saint Diwakar Acharya told ANI on Friday, "We (Sanatanis) will take bullets in our chests if they (the government) try to harm the Ram Setu bridge. It is our pride."
"Any attempt to damage the Ram Setu will be met with stiff resistance from the seers. We will gather at the sacred site from across the country to thwart such attempts," he added.
Mahant Chandrabhushan, a seer from Ayodhya, said, "The government is resorting to vote-bank politics to appease few people of the country."
A grand waterway project straddling India and Sri Lanka, the Sethusamudram project proposes to connect the Palk Strait with the Gulf of Mannar. The project is seen as key to bringing economic prosperity to the state and the country.
Commissioned in 2005, the project came to a halt in light of protests by rightwing groups claiming that the project may harm the 'Ram Setu' bridge, which is believed to have been built by Lord Ram to reach Sri Lanka.
Environmentalists and activists, too, had claimed it might pose a potential threat to the environment in Rameswaram, the southernmost tip of the country.
In the resolution, the DMK government had promised to complete the project while campaigning for the upcoming Assembly elections. (ANI)