The Tamil Nadu Assembly on Thursday (12 January) unanimously adopted a resolution moved by Chief Minister MK Stalin urging the central government to implement the Sethusamudram shipping canal project.
All parties, including the parties in the opposition, i.e., Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) supported the resolution.
The proposed shipping canal would cut across the Ram Setu to 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.
In his speech, Stalin said “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. It is the project which our late leader Kalaignar struggled hard to implement."
He added that the project would be economically beneficial for the southern districts of Tamil Nadu.
The BJP's leader in the Assembly and MLA from Tirunelveli, Nainar Nagendran said, "We support this resolution. We would welcome the project if it would not affect Ram Setu."
The BJP and the AIADMK however said that a careful study is required as the area is shallow and required regular dredging to keep it viable.
The resolution comes after Union Minister Jitendra Singh said in Parliament that it is difficult to pinpoint the exact structure but there is some kind of an indication, direct or indirect, that those structures have existed, in response to a question regarding the Ram Setu asked by Rajya Sabha MP Kartikeya Sharma.
Congress media department head Pawan Khera had then said that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had admitted in Parliament that there is no proof of the Ram Setu. This was refuted by BJP leaders who said that Khera had misquoted the minister.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has said it would hear BJP leader Subramanian Swamy's plea to declare the Ram Setu as a national heritage monument in the second week of February.
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