Karunanidhi inaugurates 125th year celebrations of Chennai port
CHENNAI: The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam insisted on getting the Shipping portfolio and T.R. Baalu being made the Union Minister when the United Progressive Alliance Government came to power only to ensure implementation of the Sethusamudram project, Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi said here on Wednesday.
Sethusamudram was more than a century-old dream of the people of Tamil Nadu and its implementation would not have been possible without the DMK and the Union Minister of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways T.R. Baalu, he said.
Inaugurating the 125th year celebrations of the Chennai port, Mr. Karunanidhi said his determination had led to the implementation of the project. It would be commissioned in two to three years.
The Chief Minister, who laid the foundation stone for the port's second container terminal, said it had seen a major transformation. While way back in 1934-35 it was used for importing cars, today it served as a gateway for car exports.
Noting that car exports began during the previous DMK regime, he said the Chennai Port Trust had developed it to a level where it could handle up to three lakh car exports annually.
Mr. Karunanidhi, who also opened a super speciality diabetes hospital of the port trust, commended the port for its initiative and urged Mr. Baalu to initiate measures to reduce the incidence of the disease among the workforce. Given that nearly half of the 8,000-odd employees had diabetes, action should be taken on war footing.
The Chief Minister also laid the foundation stone for coal, iron ore and marine liquid terminals at Ennore. Releasing a book on Chennai port by historian S. Muthiah, he presented the first copy to Finance Minister K. Anbhazagan. Mr. Karunanidhi distributed prizes to winners of competitions organised as part of the celebrations.
Mr. Baalu said the UPA Government laid emphasis on infrastructure development. Under the National Maritime Development Programme, over 350 projects, entailing an investment of Rs.60,000 crore, would be implemented over the next 20 years in the shipping and port sector.
Union Ministers G.K. Vasan, E.V.K.S. Elangovan, S.S. Palanimanickam, Subbulakshmi Jegadeesan, R. Velu and S. Regupathy and Members of Parliament C. Kuppusami, L. Ganesan and A. Krishnaswamy offered felicitations.
At the function, Chennai Port Trust chairman K. Suresh and Hyundai Motor India Limited managing director H.S. Lheem signed an agreement under which the port would offer tariff concessions to the car major.
Shipping Secretary A.K. Mohapatra said ports played a major role in economic development of the country.