Thursday, July 5, 2007

July 5, 2007 Uma Denies Baalu's Charges

Chennai Online reports:

Madurai, July 05: Demanding the Centre get the final Geological Survey of India report on Ramar Sethu before continuing with the Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project, Bharathiya Jan Sakthi leader Uma Bharti on Thursday said she would stage a demonstration at Rameswaram tomorrow to protest work on the project.

Speaking to reporters here, she demanded that the Centre get the final report from Geological Survey of India on Ramar Sethu (Adam's bridge) before continuing with the work.

She denied Union Shipping Minister T R Baalu's statement that GSI, during her tenure as Union Mines Minister, had opined that Ramar Sethu was a "natural" formation and not man-made.

"When I was Union Minister, I evinced interest in knowing more about two heritage sites - tracing the origins of the mythical Saraswati river and Ramar Sethu and asked the GSI to work on both," she said.

Officials had told her that Adam's bridge and Ramar Sethu were one and the same and was more than one lakh years old, whereupon she specifically asked them to fix it's exact age, Bharti said.

When work was going on, she was made Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister. "I do not know what happened later," she said.

Bharati said the present alignment was cleared by the UPA government and not the NDA government. Clearance for such a project could be given only at the highest level, she added.

The GSI had not submitted a report to her for approval, as alleged by Baalu, she said.

Stating it was the government's duty to protect the "heritage site" (Ramar Sethu), Bharati demanded that work on it be stopped and that it be protected just like the Taj Mahal. "Even aircraft are not allowed to fly over that area (Taj)," she said.

Bharati claimed there would be more economic development if the world was told of the Ramar Sethu "bridge". This would bring in lots of tourists, resulting in more economic activity, "much more than if the SSCP is implemented".

Asked why she was launching the agitation at such a late stage, Bharati claimed she was busy facing a series of "false cases" filed against her in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

A solution should also have to be found to fishermen's livelihood as they would be unable to fish in that area once the project was completed, she claimed.

Bureau Report

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