Asserting that the controversial Sethusamudram Shipping Channel Project would not be economically and ecologically viable, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa has said the party was opposed to the project as it would not only benefit the southern districts as claimed by the DMK, but seriously affect the livelihood of hapless fishermen.

Addressing an election rally in support of party nominee A.Anwar Raja here on Saturday, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagm (AIADMK) supremo slammed at the Congress and its estranged ally, the DMK for seeking to implement the project, ignoring the Pachauri committee report, advising against the implementation of the project.

On DMK Chief M Karunanidhi’s criticism that she had supported the project, she said it was true the AIADMK had initially supported the project, but changed its stand after various reports suggested that the project would not only be viable both economically and ecologically, but would in no way be beneficial to south Tamil Nadu, she said.

Refraining from making any reference to “Ram Sethu,” Ms Jayalalithaa said the AIADMK was opposed to the project as “the project will no way benefit Tamil Nadu. On the other hand, it would affect the livelihood of the fishermen, make them hapless, affect the ecology and destroy the marine resources.”

However, despite several reports warned against the implementation, Mr.Karunanidhi was keen on implementing the project. “Why he is keen on implementing the project and for whose benefit, I will leave it to your assumption,” she said adding already a sum of Rs 830 crore has been wasted on this project.

She said despite several warnings, the Congress led UPA government had hurriedly launched the project in 2004, destroying the marine resources in the Palk Strait and forcing several rare marine species to migrate. The fisher folk was genuinely concerned that the flora and fauna in the region and coral reefs would be destroyed and their livelihood would be affected if the project was implemented, she said.

Pointing that the Sethu channel has been designed to envisage the passing of 20,000 tonne capacity ships, she said even the Poompuhar Shipping Corporation vessels, which transported coal from the eastern ports of Pradeep, Haldia and Visakhapatnam could not pass through the channel. Thus the argument that big vessels could pass through the channel to reach Tuticorin port was absurd, she said.

The Sethu channel, located north off Tuticorin, would not even be beneficial to vessels leaving Tuticorin port towards south to European, central east Asian and south east Asian countries, she said. It would connect the western and eastern coast, but there would be no benefit to Tamil Nadu, she contended.

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