Kochi, Sep 16 (UNI) Reiterating his party's stand on the 'Ram Sethu' issue, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) Secretary General Praveen Togadia today urged the Centre to cancel the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project (SSCP) or find a new route for the same to protect the bridge.
Addressing a gathering after inaugurating a Hindu Cultural Centre here, Mr Togadia said the destruction of the bridge would cripple the Indian economy as it would jeopardise the vast thorium deposits on the shores of Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
''With thorium-enabled reactors, we could produce about four lakh MW of electricity, which will be over and above the current demand of 1.30 lakh MW,'' he claimed.
Mr Togadia accused the Centre of playing to the tunes of the US and Europe on destroying the bridge and forgoeing the development of the nation.
'' For the development of any economy, electricity is inevitable and if the government wants to alleviate poverty and sustain economic development, the bridge has to be protected at any cost,'' he noted.
'' The Centre should either cancel the new project or find new route for it as its destruction would throw at least four lakh fishermen into unemployment apart from the environmental hazards.
'' If the government could change the course of the Delhi Metro to protect the Qutab Minar then the Centre should redraw the route for the SSCP to protect the religious sentiments of thousands of Hindus in the country,'' Mr Togadia said.
He said it was a shame to ask for Lord Ram's and Ram Sethu's existence as they were based on faith which 'should be respected and not insulted'.
The reference to 'Ram Sethu' could be found in the ancient coins of Tamil Nadu and the Asiatic Society had also vouched for its existence, he claimed.
'' Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, who is advocating the construction of the SSCP, has also issued a government gazette in 1972 rpt 1972 stating Ram Sethu is in existence,'' Mr Togadia alleged.
He said if the government did not meet their demands, the party would mobilise mass support across the country in the near future.
Referring to terrorism, Mr Togadia said '' Islamic terrorism or jihad is now not confined to Kashmir but is spreading to other parts of the country.'' Later, talking to reporters, Mr Togadia said 'Ram Sethu' would not be made an electoral issue if there were snap polls in the country.
He urged all parties, irrespective of political affiliation, to come forward to protect the bridge.
VHP All India Working President S Vedantham and BJP Leader O Rajagopal, among others, were present on the occasion.