DMK trains guns on AIADMK over Sethusamudram project

Chennai, Oct 16 (IANS) DMK president M. Karunanidhi Tuesday accused Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa of having double standards and betraying Tamil Nadu's interests by submitting to the Supreme Court that the Sethusamudram ship channel may not be in public interest.

The Sethusamudram project envisages the dredging of a channel across the Palk Strait to allow ships sailing between the east and west coasts of India, instead of circumventing Sri Lanka.

In a statement issued here, Karunanidhi said: "Those in power in the state would strive to secure new projects for the benefit of the people. But the AIADMK government is of the view that it is better that the Sethusamudram project need not be there than other parties taking credit."

The Tamil Nadu government Monday told the Supreme Court that the Sethusamudram project would have serious environmental impact and uneconomical if the channel is made without cutting Ram Sethu/Adam's Bridge.

However, cutting of Ram Sethu/Adam's Bridge has invited severe opposition from several quarters as it is considered sacred by the Hindus.

Recalling AIADMK's 2001 and 2004 election manifestos where the party had supported the Sethusamudram project and declared that it would press the central government to implement the project, Karunanidhi said the ruling party has changed stance just to deny DMK the credit for being instrumental in initiating the project.

He said the foundation stone for the project was laid by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2005 at Madurai after several detailed studies including by the central government. Crores of rupees have been spent on the scheme.

This will lead to a saving of 424 nautical miles (780 km) and up to 30 hours of sailing time, the memorandum noted.

In March this year, Jayalalithaa urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to take steps to declare Ram Sethu/Adam's Bridge as a national monument citing the strong objections raised to the alignment of the channel project.

As part of the project, it was planned to break the Ram Sethu/Adam's Bridge considered sacred by Hindus as the bridge built to Lanka by Hindu god Rama.