Chennai, Oct 21: The DMK today asserted that the first ship in the new Sethusamudram Shipping Canal would sail by November 2008 but its rival AIADMK claimed that the project would meet an inglorious end like the old Veeranam project of the 1970s.
Union Shipping Minister T R Baalu stated that the prestigious project would be successfully completed by November next year with the first ship sailing through the new channel.
However, AIADMK Supremo J Jayalalithaa claimed that the SSCP was heading the same way as the old Veeranam Project initiated by Chief Minister M Karunanidhi in the 70s of the last century and that history would only repeat itself.
Observing that the project would be a boon for the economic development of the state, Mr Baalu, on the contrary said, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress President and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Mr Karunanidhi would definitely flag off the first ship to traverse through the new channel.
''Despite obstacles placed by some people, including the AIADMK, the SSCP would be implemented and the first ship will sail in the new channel in November 2008'', he asserted.
Over two years after the SSCP was launched amid much fanfare, the more than Rs 2,000 crore project ran into troubled waters when the Centre withdrew the controversial affidavit filed before the Supreme Court that had a reference about Lord Ram and the demolition of the Adam's bridge under the project, which the Hindu organisations say was built by Lord Ram.
Mr Karunanidhi queered the pitch by questioning the very existence of Lord Ram that drew nation-wide opposition, especially from the 'Sangh Parivar', BJP and the AIADMK, and frontline Hindu outfits.
A former BJP MP even went to the extent of issuing a 'fatwa' that drew widespread condemnation not only from the ruling DMK but also from all political parties supporting the DMK government in the state from outside.
However, Mr Karunanidhi sought to assuage the feelings of the Hindus and said what he had said was already told by Valmiki in his epic Ramayana, and that he would never hurt any religious sentiments.
Recently, he told the state Assembly that the project could even be named Sethu Ram project. ''I only want the project, the new channel and the prosperity that will come to Tamil Nadu following the implementation,''Mr Karunanidhi added.