Govt. toeing US line in Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project: VHP
Thursday September 20, 01:19 PM
New Delhi, Sept. 20 (ANI): The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) has rapped the Central Government for pursuing the Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project, saying it is toeing the US line.
Accusing Congress Party Chief Sonia Gandhi of playing into American hands, VHP President Ashok Singhal, said: “For the first time on June 30, the American Government said, declare it as an international route. On July 5, Sonia herself goes for an inauguration of a programme in Tuticorim Airport. She is responsible for the entire project. This is my allegation.”
The VHP is at the forefront of a campaign opposing the 560 million dollars project, which they say it would destroy the Ram Sethu, a 48- kilometre chain of limestone shoals that once linked Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu to Mannar in Sri Lanka.
Some Hindu groups say it would destroy the Ram Sethu. The Government recently filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court stating that there was no evidence to prove “the existence of the characters or the occurrence of events” in the Ramayana, which it hurriedly retracted after an uproar by the BJP and the VHP.
The Government has sought three months time from the apex court to examine the Sethusamudram project issue.
The apex Bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balkrishnan allowed the withdrawl of affidavit and posted the matter for hearing in the first week of January 2008.
Locals, who live and work amid scores of Hindu temples across Rameswaram, believe it was blasphemous on part of the government to question mythology.
“The government has deliberately created circumstances that the Ram Setu be demolished. All Hindus are opposing this. An alternative to this has to be worked out,” said Kandasami.
According to the Central Government, research has shown that the bridge was a series of sand shoals created by sedimentation.
Union Cultural Minister Ambika Soni had said she is ready to resign over the affidavit row, if asked to do so by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh or Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi.
Her ministry suspended a director and an assistant director of the Archaeological Survey of India, which prepared the affidavit. The Sethusamudram Project will dredge a channel in a narrow strip of sea between India and Sri Lanka, reducing distances and cutting costs for freight traffic.
Dredging for the project began in 2005 and the channel — 12 metres deep, 300 metres wide and almost 90 km long — will provide a crucial link between the Palk Bay and the Gulf of Mannar. (ANI)