Shotgun accuses UPA of politicising Ram Sethu issue

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Patna, Nov 21 (UNI) Bollywood actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha today accused the United Progessive Alliance (UPA) government at the Centre of politicising the Ram Sethu issue.

Speaking here at a seminar, Mr Sinha, popularly known as ''Shotgun'', said, ''We pay our obesiance to Lord Rama, who fought against Ravana's evil forces. The charisma of the Maryada Purush will be repeated against the Ravana of our age - the present UPA government.'' The former Shipping Minister said the BJP was committed to the economic growth of the country but not at the cost of the Ram Sethu constructed by Lord Rama's troops.

Mr Sinha rubbished the allegations that the Setusamudram project for constructing a bridge to replace the Ram Sethu or Hanuman bridge, was passed during the NDA regime.

''Since I was holding the portfolio of the Shipping Ministry, it is a campaign by some politically-motivated people for their vested interests to malign me as well as the NDA,'' he said.

He clarified that he had never approved a project on the Ram Sethu.

Instead, a project called the ''Sagarmala project'', to connect all the major ports in the country, was passed during the NDA regime.

''Since ports are considered the Golden Gates to the heaven of trade and investment, the project was approved to boost our maritime trade and overseas business,'' Mr Sinha claimed.

He maintained that the project on the Ram Sethu was under consideration since 1860 when for the first time, the British government started working on the project, but it was delayed over the years.

''It was reopened in 1998 with some vested interests but when I took over as the Shipping Minister, I went through the details and the major concern against the project was environmental degradation since the construction work could damage the biosphere reserves,'' he said.

''In fact, the National Environmental Research Institute (NERI) had objected to the project along with AIDMK chief Jayalalithaa because of environmental concerns and security threat as it could pave the way for extremists to infiltrate into the country,'' he added.

Keeping in mind these facts, Mr Sinha said he did not approve of the project.

Speaking on the occasion, BJP incharge of political affairs in Bihar Kalraj Mishra cautioned the party members to remain alert against all evils and attempts to disturb the social fabric.

UNI

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