Annamalai Clarifies Tamil Nadu BJP’s Stand On Sethusamudram Project

Annamalai Clarifies Tamil Nadu BJP’s Stand On Sethusamudram Project

by S Rajesh - Saturday, January 14, 2023 12:01 PM IST
Annamalai Clarifies Tamil Nadu BJP’s Stand On Sethusamudram ProjectTamil Nadu BJP state president K Annamalai
    • The BJP has extended support to the Sethusamudram project on the condition that it does not damage the Ram Setu.

    • There are some alignments which do not affect the Ram Setu.

    • The RK Pachauri committee report had said that the project is economically and ecologically unviable.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state president K Annamalai issued a clarification on the stand of his party regarding the Sethusamudram project.

The Sethusamudram project is a shipping canal that would create a continuously navigable channel around the Indian peninsula by connecting the Gulf of Mannar with the Palk Strait.

At present due to the shallow depth of the sea in the region, ships have to circumnavigate Sri Lanka.

The clarification came after social media was awash with the narrative that the BJP had backstabbed Hindus and taken a U-turn on its position by supporting the resolution moved by Chief Minister MK Stalin.

Annamalai reiterated what Nainar Nagendran, the BJP floor leader had said in the Assembly, i.e., the BJP would support the project only if it did not damage the Ram Setu.

A large section of people are of the belief that the execution of the project would necessarily have to damage the Setu but that is not true because multiple alignments were proposed for the project and some of them do not damage the Setu.

The belief has come up because alignment number 6 which was taken up during the rule of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) was going to damage the Setu. The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) was part of the government then.

Here is a picture of the alignments published in the Times of India. Note that alignment number 4A has been numbered as alignment number 5 in this picture.

Sethusamudram Alignments
Sethusamudram Alignments
Times of India

Alignment number 6 was finalized after a recommendation from the National Environment Engineering Institute (NEERI) committee was accepted by the previous Atal Bihari Vajpayee government.

Later, in the face of opposition from Hindu groups, the BJP changed its position and said that they would not support an alignment that damages the Ram Setu.

In 2007, the Supreme Court gave a stay order in the case and work was stopped.

This led to the Manmohan Singh government to come up with an alternative alignment called 4A, that would go through the spit of land just besides Dhanushkodi. And it set up the RK Pachauri led committee to study the viability of the project.

While some say that alignment 4A does not affect the Ram Setu, there are others who say that it does affect the Setu because the Setu is believed to have been constructed from Dhanushkodi in India to Talaimannar in Sri Lanka.

From Annamalai’s tweets, we get to know that the Tamil Nadu BJP does not support alignment 4A and support for alignment 6 is out of the question, as it passes almost through the middle of the Setu.

Annamalai added that his party did ask some pertinent questions to the DMK government, regarding the project.

Among the questions asked were why did the DMK government choose to ignore the RK Pachauri commission report on alignment 4A, which said that the project was economically unviable and a threat to ecology.

Referring to the remarks of Union Minister Jitendra Singh which were taken out of context by the opposition, Annamalai said that the DMK did so in order to suit its agenda.

After Singh’s statement, a narrative was pushed forward especially by the Congress saying that the BJP had said that there is no proof for the Ram Setu.

Singh had however mentioned that there is some kind of indication, direct or indirect, that those structures have existed.

Further, Annamalai added that there is a threat of tsunami in the area if Ram Setu is destroyed as per tsunami expert Professor Tad S Murthy.

Regarding the economic viability of the project, he said that it does not meet the 12 per cent annual return criteria set by the NITI Aayog. This is mainly because it would not be able to handle large ships due to the shallow depths. Former chief minister J Jayalalitha, from the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) too had said the same.

Lastly, he said that DMK leaders like TR Baalu and Kanimozhi, who owned shipping companies seemed to be the most likely beneficiaries of the project.

Therefore, the BJP’s conditional support to the project is according to its stance for the last decade or so.

Also Read: Tamil Nadu: Sethusamudram Resolution Moved In Assembly Supported By All Parties

S Rajesh is Staff Writer at Swarajya.
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