Jaya wants impartial panel on Sethu Project

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Chennai, Oct 21: Questioning the credibility of the expert committee formed by the Centre to examine the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project (SSCP) afresh, AIADMK Supremo J Jayalalithaa today demanded it be disbanded and an impartial committee, comprising maritime and defence experts formed. In a statement here, she claimed the committee formed by the Centre to submit a report to the Supreme Court did not comprise experts as claimed by the UPA Government .

It did not have economists, defence, maritime and naval experts, social scientists and oceanographers.

''These conspicuous and glaring omissions raise serious doubts about the credibility of the committee and the possible veracity of this report,'' she added.

Demanding disbanding of the committee, she wanted the Centre to constitute a truly impartial and competent committee, consisting of representatives of above disciplines, historians and environmentalists.

Ms Jayalalithaa said this committee should hold transparent debate in the presence of public, media and political parties and all views should recorded.

''Only then, the real truth behind the hasty implementation of the SSCP will come out in the open,'' she said.

Ms Jayalalithaa said three of the committee members were historians and they could only vouch for the historical validity of Lord Ram. One member was from NEERI, which being an interested party and was bound to have biased views.

''One member, Mr R S Sharma, is a witness in the Ram Janmabhoomi Case and the Committee Chairman S Ramachandran has already expressed his view publicly supporting the SSCP and he cannot be expected to take a different or unbiased view now,'' she claimed.

Observing these facts hardly inspired any public confidence about the impartiality of the members, Ms Jayalalithaa said the committee neither had any social scientists to discuss the problems of the coastal people, particularly fishermen, nor have any maritime or naval experts to examine navigational issues.

''There are no defence personnel either to discuss security concerns, especially when the SSCP becomes an international seaway.

There are no oceanographers to discuss ocean currents and their effects as it comes within a tsunami-hit area and no economists to discuss economy related issues as the SSCP is touted to economically upliftment of Tamil Nadu,'' she said.

Alleging the SSCP was heading the same way as the old Veeranam Project initiated by Chief Minister M Karunanidhi in the seventies she said history would only repeat itself.

''The back-tracking of the Centre on the Ram affidavit, Mr Karunanidhi's statements about Lord Ram, the Supreme Court's observations on the October 1 bandh in Tamil Nadu, have all reinforced further the overwhelming impression that all is not well with the SSCP,'' she claimed.


UNI

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