Tamil Nadu Assembly, on January 12, 2023, unanimously adopted a resolution urging the Union Government to immediately implement the Sethusamudram project and assuring it of the State government’s cooperation.
The main Opposition party, the AIADMK and its ally, the BJP, also supported the resolution but urged the government to study the pros and cons of its implementation because the project area is shallow and would require constant dredging.
Chief Minister M.K. Stalin, who moved the resolution, said, “The project is essential to strengthen the economic development of Tamil Nadu and India. This House is of the view that the attempt by certain forces to further delay the project is against the interest of our national growth.”
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“I deem it as a historical responsibility to move the resolution which seeks to implement the 150-year-old dream project. It is a dream project of Arignar Anna [former Chief Minister C.N. Annadurai]. It is the project which our late leader Kalaignar [former Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi] struggled hard to implement,” he said.
Tracing the history of the project, the resolution said it was originally conceived in 1890 by Commander Taylor at a cost of ₹50 lakh. Subsequently, it was studied for years and designed by various technical experts like Dr A. Ramasamy Mudaliar from Tamil Nadu in 1955.
Mr. Stalin said the project was included in the fourth five-year plan approved by the Cabinet meeting headed by India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. “Anna, who became the Chief Minister in 1967 made a strong case for implementing it, saying that it would promote trade. He said it would make Tamil Nadu a wealthy state and called for an awakening day to press for its implementation,” the Chief Minister recalled.
The resolution also placed on record the permission granted by late Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee during the regime of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government and subsequently by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government led by the Congress.
The Chief Minister said ₹2,427 crore was allotted in 2004 by the UPA government in which the DMK was an ally. “When 50 per cent of the work was over, the BJP created hurdles for it because of political reasons. The late Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, who supported it in the beginning also changed her stand and filed a case in court,” the Chief Minister said.
Mr. Stalin said if no hurdles were created, the project would have been completed and offered a lot of benefits. “It would have lifted the economy of Tamil Nadu, particularly the Southern districts, and ensured employment opportunities,” he said.
Recalling Union Minister Jitender Singh’s speech in the Rajya Sabha that “it would be difficult to say about the type of structure seen in the Rameswaram coast”, the Chief Minister said that given the current stand of the union government, it was the concern of the House that the continued delay would be a stumbling block for the development and growth of Tamil Nadu.
Remarks on Lord Rama
AIADMK member Pollachi V. Jayaraman said the remarks of a CPI(M) member in the Assembly that “Rama was a fictional character” was an affront to 100 crore Hindus in the world. “He was an avathara purushan,” the legislator added.
BJP floor leader Nainar Nagendran said the remarks should be expunged because Rama was worshipped as God.
The Chief Minister, during his speech, said, “No one had criticised God and people’s faith. “They only pointed out that faith was used to prevent the implementation of the project,” he said.