Jayalalithaa moves to SC to stop Sethusamudram on security of India & Sri Lanka
By Walter Jayawardhana
Moving the Indian Supreme Court All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazagam (AIADMK) leader and former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Jayalalitha Jeyaram requested the courts to restrain the Central government from “destroying” “Ram Sethu” or Adams Bridge between Sri Lanka and India and said it raises serious problems of the security and rights of the territorial waters of Sri Lanka and India.
She said in her petition to the Supreme Court Sri Lanka and India had always considered the territorial waters of Palk Bay , Gulf of Mannar and Palk Straits under their respective territorial rights whereas the US has objected to such claims and considered them international waters.
She argued the destruction of the Rama Sethu, considered by millions of Hindus as a bridge constructed by a Vanara Sena (monkey army) led by Hanuman at the behest of Lord Rama , would expose the country to a great security threat by the United States.
In an earlier petition the Janata Party leader Subramanian Swami has pointed out that the dredging of the barrier to allow navigation of big ships across the Palk Strait the environment of Sri Lanka would be greatly damaged. He said earlier it would only facilitate the brigand boats of the sea faring LTTE to engage in gun and narcotic drug running.
Jayalalitha Jeyaram, has also quoted extensively various historical literature and compilations, and said the "Ram Setu" bridge is a symbol of might and power of human will and the construction of the bridge by the vanar sena of Lord Rama was a victory of human endeavor in the face of adversity.
Since Jayalalitha was the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu she has vehemently opposed the dredging of the Rama Sethu Canal and demanded that the work for the controversial $560-million Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project (SSCP) be halted immediately because ,she claimed, it had badly hit the livelihood of fishermen and endangered marine biology in the sea south of the southern Indian state.
In a strongly-worded statement issued in state capital Chennai, she then declared: “Concerned with the welfare of the people, my government cannot permit this project completely ruining the fishermen`s lives. We cannot remain a silent spectator when the fishermen are being put to great suffering.”
Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh had launched the dredging work for the project at a gala public function in Madurai on July 2 2005. It was attended by the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, and leaders of UPA partners in Tamil Nadu, including Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leader Muthuvel Karunanidhi.
But Ms Jayalalithaa had boycotted that function on the ground that the project was being rushed through by her political enemies without proper environmental assessment. The bitter rivalry between Ms Jayalalithaa`s AIADMK (then in power in Tamil Nadu), and the DMK (which shares power in Prime Minister Dr Singh`s coalition government at the center since then and rules Tamil Nadu now) has converted the Sethusamudram project into a bone of contention between the two biggest DMK oriented parties.