Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) president M. Karunanidhi on Thursday said a move by the Bharatiya Janata Party to stall the Sethusamudram Canal Project amounted to betraying the former Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee.

In a letter written to party workers, Mr. Karunanidhi recalled that Mr. Vajpayee, while participating in the C.N. Annadurai birthday celebrations in Chennai during September 15, 1998, stated the BJP government would implement the Sethusamudram project at the earliest. Accordingly, a survey was conducted by the National Environment Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) which suggested alignment no.6 as the best one. It was subsequently accepted by the Vajpayee government.

However, a resolution passed at BJP national council meeting on March 3 stated that any tampering or damage to Ram Sethu was not acceptable to the party and this went beyond the assurance of Mr. Vajpayee on this project amounting to betrayal, he pointed out.

While the BJP members had approved the alignment in 2002, why had they not opposed the project citing the existence of Ram Sethu then? If the BJP government had implemented the project during its regime, would they say there was no Ram Sethu at all, he asked. Mr. Karunanidhi said the foundation for the Sethusamudram project was laid during July 2005, after which several crores were spent for two years towards its implementation. “At a time when a major portion of the work has been completed, is it correct to destroy the project stating a new reason?” The DMK party chief said that since the time of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the Sethusamudram was under consideration. But it had become a question mark due to Ram Sethu. At various points of time there was no reference to Ram Sethu and it was mentioned as Adam’s bridge. The party had stressed the implementation of the project and not to create fresh controversies, he added.

“Since the time of Jawaharlal Nehru, it has been under consideration”