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PM inaugurats Sethu project amidst protests, boycott

Saturday 2 July 2005

Madurai, July 2 (PTI): Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, today inaugurated work on the Rs 2,427 crore Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project that will cut the sailing distance between the east and west coasts, amidst boycott by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, and protests by fishermen and environmentalists.

Allaying fishermen’s apprehensions that the project would cut into their livelihood, Singh pressed a button that started dredging at a site off point Calimere coast in Nagapattinam district, 250 km away from here.

Singh also announced the Centre’s decision to set up a ’world-class’ automobile testing facility near Chennai, which he said would attract huge investments both directly and indirectly.

"It will give a boost to Tamil Nadu’s already developed automobile sector. Let Tamil Nadu be a rival to Detroit in future", he said.

The inauguration of works of the Sethusamudram project marks the fulfillment of a promise made by the UPA in its Common Minimum Programme and a long-cherished dream of the Tamils.

The project will create a navigable sea route between Gulf of Mannar and the Bay of Bengal and cut travelling time between India’s west and east coasts by over 30 hours.

While UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, attended the function, Jayalalithaa boycotted it, accusing the Centre of subverting environmental clearances and not addressing the concerns of fishermen and environmentalists.

See online : The Hindu

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