The ruling DMK government in Tamil Nadu wants the Sethusamudram Ship Canal project to be revived and urged the Centre to immediately implement the stalled project. Chief Minister MK Stalin, on Thursday, moved a resolution to this effect in the Assembly stating that the project is important to strengthen the economic growth of the State and the nation. It was passed unanimously.
The project is to link Palk Bay and the Gulf of Mannar between India and Sri Lanka by creating a shipping canal. It started in July 2005 at an estimated cost of around ₹2,500 crore but was stalled after protests by environmentalists and Hindu activists against the demolition of the Ram Setu, a symbol of heritage.
The revival of the project was one of the announcements made by the DMK in its Assembly Election Manifesto 2021. The project is at a standstill due to the inaction of the present government (BJP at the Center and the AIADMK at the State). DMK will complete the project as soon as the new government is formed and ensure economic benefits for all of southern Tamil Nadu, the manifesto said.
The project was originally conceived in 1860 by Commander Taylor at a cost of ₹50 lakhs. In 1998, the then-Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee allocated funds for the project. It was during the BJP regime that the path to the project was decided. In 2005, the project was inaugurated during the Congress rule when the DMK was part of the then-UPA government.
However, due to political reasons, the BJP opposed the project. Former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa was initially in favour of the project but changed her stand and filed a case against it, he said.
Stalin said the Assembly was of the view that stalling the project was against the country’s development and that some forces were trying not to implement it. Therefore, it is unanimously decided that the Centre should immediately come forward to implement the project without further delay and that the State Government will extend all cooperation for the implementation of the project, Stalin said.