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Complete Setusamudram project at earliest: DMK

According to the DMK the project is unique and was launched with the aim of providing an economic uplift to the southern peninsular Indian region.

Chennai: Union ministers and MPs belonging to the DMK on Thursday urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi to implement the Setusamudram project at the earliest.

They submitted a memorandum a day after Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa wrote to Singh asking him to declare Ram Setu, also known as Adam`s Bridge, a national monument.

Ram Setu will be endangered by the Setusamudram project, which is aimed at opening the narrow Palk Strait dividing India and Sri Lanka to ships to avoid navigating Sri Lanka.

According to the DMK memorandum released to the media here, the project is unique and was launched with the aim of providing an economic uplift to the southern peninsular Indian region.

Noting that the project was inaugurated by Singh in July 2005 in Gandhi`s presence, the memorandum recalled the latter`s desire that the project be completed in three years.

The Setusamudram project envisages the dredging of a channel across the Palk Strait to let ships sailing between the east and west coasts of India, instead of circumventing Sri Lanka.

This will lead to a saving of 424 nautical miles (780 km) and up to 30 hours of sailing time, the memorandum noted.

According to it, major portions of the project work were completed. With only 22 km of dredging work remaining, vested interests had approached the Supreme Court and obtained a stay.

The court in turn has asked the central government to specify its stand on whether Setusamudram can be declared a national monument, the memorandum states.

"We note with anguish and dismay that those certain reactionary elements and forces inimical to the development of Tamil Nadu resorted to a discernible pattern of modus operandi to sabotage projects which could have brought immense economic benefit to the people of Tamil Nadu and India," the DMK said.

"Any weakened response of this government to such a crucial issue will only expose the betrayal of hope and promise given to Tamil Nadu by our great leaders."

According to the memorandum, the project will further the development of the southern peninsular region.


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