Special Correspondent

Says it did not raise the issue while clearing project

CHENNAI: Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi said on Tuesday that the Bharatiya Janata Party, which was now opposing the Sethusamudram project, had not raises the issue of Ramar Sethu when it sanctioned the project.

In a statement, he said it was the BJP-led government that gave sanction to carry out many of the impact studies in 2001. It was when the BJP was in power that a detailed course was laid down for implementation of the project.

He wanted to know if the BJP had not realised that there was Ramar Sethu when it gave the sanction. If the project were implemented during the BJP rule, would they have raised the issue of the Ramar Sethu?

Studies cited

Mr. Karunanidhi said none of the technical studies on the project had raised an iota of doubt about its feasibility.

He detailed the studies carried out from 1860, and explained the sanctions accorded by the BJP regime for the project.

Public hearings

After the project was sanctioned, public hearings were held in 2004 and 2005 in five coastal districts. Three rounds of hearings were held in 14 places. The name Ramar Sethu did not come up at any of these hearings.

He said no study undertaken so far had pointed to the existence of a man-made structure in the area. Since there was no proof of any such structure having been built, no government, including the BJP-led one, declared the area as a site of national importance.

Fishermen reassured

Also, the project offices would be located in Danushkodi and in Point Calimere on government lands. Hence, there was no fear of displacement of any fishermen from these areas.

Even if there were some cases of fishermen having encroached on government land, they would be re-located at government expense.