Chennai, Jan 28: Criticising AIADMK General Secretary J Jayalalithaa for demanding his resignation on the Sethusamudram Shipping Channel Project (SSCP) issue, Union Shipping Minister T R Baalu today described her remark as ''childish''.
In a hard-hitting statement here, he decried Ms Jayalalithaa's opposition to the project as borne out of ''ignorance'' and disputed her views on the Naval chief Admiral Suresh Mehta's claim that big ships could not pass through the proposed channel. Ms Jayalalithaa had questioned Mr Baalu's credentials while reacting to his letter to Defence Minister A K Antony, terming the remarks of the Naval chief that the SSCP was 'useful only for small vessels and not for big ships sailing on international routes' as 'unfortunate'.
Mr Baalu said in 2006-07, 20,864 ships have anchored at 12 ports across the country. ''Of this, only 4,422 ships weighed over 50,000 tonnes and the rest 16,422 weighed less than 50,000 tonnes''.
If the SSCP had been completed, all the 16,422 ships would have passed through the channel, amounting to 79 per cent of the total number of ships that had called at the Indian ports. This could have saved fuel and travel distance to the tune of 424 Nautical miles.
Coming down heavily on her for questioning whether he was a marine engineer to talk about the technicalside of the project and on Ram Sethu, Mr Baalu said if expertise was the only yardstick for a person to head a ministry, then Ms Jayalalithaa, an actor of yesteryears, should only go back to acting.
He said it had become a habit for Ms Jayalalithaa to demand the dismissal of the DMK government in Tamil Nadu and resignation of ministers against the principles of democracy.