Detailed scientific, technical and strategic review sought
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Murli Manohar Joshi has demanded the Centre to suspend work on the Sethusamudram Channel project and hold discussions to allay the apprehensions over its alignment, which is feared to be detrimental to Kerala and the security of the nation.
Dr. Joshi, who is also the chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on commerce, told presspersons here on Saturday that Defence Minister A.K. Antony and the State Government should apprise the Centre of the threat posed by the present alignment of the channel to the State. If the project was completed without changing the alignment, the southern coast of Kerala would be washed away in another tsunami strike, he said.
Dr. Joshi called for a detailed scientific, technical and strategic review of the project by a multi-disciplinary expert team to realign the channel based on oceanographic studies and also its geo-strategic implications.
The BJP was not opposed to the project, but it should be designed to incorporate tsunami protection structures along India's coastline, which had to face the brunt of the tsunami strike on December 26, 2004. The tsunami had claimed over 2 lakh lives in the region between the straits of Malacca and Palk Straits and the Gulf of Mannar.
Dr. Joshi said the alignment was arbitrarily determined without any consultations or evaluation of the impact of tsunami. The views of internationally renowned tsunami expert Tad S. Murthy on the alignment were ignored by the Prime Minister's Office. He accused the Tuticorin Port Trust chairman of giving flippant replies to a series of queries on the alignment from the Prime Minister's Office on March 8, 2005.
The Sethu Mandir also known as Rama Sethu, Adi Sethu and Adam's Bridge is revered by millions of people of all religions. The present alignment would lead to its destruction too.
Details of the bridge had been mentioned in the epics and also the administrative and historic documents of Tamil Nadu.
Preservation of heritage was also equally important as the economic development and the bridge should be declared as a national heritage, Dr. Joshi said.
He accused the Government of bowing to the interests of the United States.
The U.S. was meddling with the foreign affairs and also the historic waters of the nation.