Baalu flays Jaya's remark on Sethu project

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Chennai, Oct 12(UNI) Flaying AIADMK General Secretary J Jayalalithaa for describing the Sethusamudram Shipping Channel Project (SSCP) as ''unviable and closed chapter,'' Union Shipping Minister T R Baalu today asserted that the project would certainly be implemented and there was no doubt about it.

In a statement here, he said Ms Jayalalithaa might come out with any number of statements against the project, but she would not succeed in her 'conspiracy' to stall the project.

On the viablity of the SSCP, Mr Baalu said the AIADMK leader should go through her party's election manifesto released in 2001, in which she had hailed the project as economically viable and demanded the Centre to implement it.

Referring to Ms Jayalalithaa's remarks that the Centre had told the Supreme Court that it would hold the project, he said the Union Government had only told the apex court that it would suspend work in the contentious Adam's bridge area for the time being.

On the progress of work, he said as per the draft plan, dredging has to be carried out at a stretch of 89 km with a depth of 12 metres and so far, 54 km have been covered with nine metres depth in the dredging operation.

Referring to criticism that the Channel would become useless as it would not facilitate navigation of 1.5 lakh tonne capacity ships, he said there were 9,147 ships around the world, of which, 1.5 lakh tonne capacity ships constituted only 1367. Only 2.4 per cent of the more than one lakh capacity ships visited Indian ports, he said.

The project cost would go up steeply, if dredging has to be done for a depth of 18 metres to allow movement of 1.5 lakh tonne capacity ships. However, the depth could be increased in a phased manner, he added.

Mr Baalu said 1.5 lakh tonne capacity ships do not visit all the ports in the world as claimed by Ms Jayalalithaa.

In all there were 199 ports, including 12 big and 187 small ports in the country and only four ports, including Chennai and Vishakapatnam, could handle 1.5 lakh tonne capacity ships, he pointed out.

Through the SSCP, 80 out of 100 ships in the world could navigate, he said adding when supersonic aircraft was invented, a decade ago, only Paris and New York airports allowed its operation and no one made a statement that the other airports in the world were useless, Mr Baalu said.

UNI

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