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Sethusamudram project issue rocks Parliament

india Updated: May 03, 2007 17:00 IST
Anil Anand
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Both Houses of Parliament were rocked after the BJP members raised the issue of Sethusamudram project. The agitated MPs accused the government of trying to destroy the "remains" of the mythological Ram setu (bridge) which linked India with Sri Lanka during the Ramayana period.

A strong reaction by Minister for Shipping and Transport TR Baalu in Lok Sabha led to the saffron party members rushing to the well of the House. Rising in support of Baalu, his DMK colleagues raised counter-slogans and objected to the issue being raised on the plea that it was sub judice and was pending in the Allahabad high court. Speaker Somnath Chatterjee adjounred the House for 25 minutes after the Question Hour.

At one stage Baalu was reprimanded by the Speaker for waiving some papers in support of his contention on the project. "Mr Minister do not show the papers," he observed.

When the House reassembled at 12.30 pm, the Speaker said "this being a contentious matter, you give me the papers because serious reservations seem to be there. I am not rejecting it".

The BJP-Shiv Sena members again moved to the well shouting "Ram Setu bachao" (save Ram Setu). They later agreed to permit discussion on the Finance Bill.

Earlier, raising the issue during Zero Hour, BJP deputy leader in Lok Sabha, VK Malhotra countered the DMK theory and claimed that the issue involving destruction of evidence was not sub judice.

The Rs 2427 crore Sethusamudram ship channel project would involve dredging of 167 km channel along the Palk Straits, Palk Bay and Adams Bridge to connect the Bay of Bengal and Gulf of Mannar between India and Sri Lanka.