Condemning the Centre for yielding to the pressure of communal forces and dilly-dallying about the Sethusamudram Canal Project, the Left parties on Monday urged the Union government to implement it without any change.
Addressing a joint press meet in Chennai, Communist Party of India- Marxist state general secretary N Varadarajan and Communist Party of India state secretary D Pandian demanded to know why the Centre had sought three months time in the Supreme Court and agreed to consider an alternate alignment.
"Why is the Union government not firm in carrying out the project on the present alignment," they queried.
The Centre should expedite the proceedings before the apex Court on the SSCP issue and carry out the scheme as formulated by scientists, experts and various government agencies, the Left leaders said. Stalling a developmental project in the name of epic heroes, that too after 60 per cent of the work was completed, was not good for the country, they said.
The leaders clearly stated that other alignments were not acceptable since they will affect marine ecology and the livelihood of fishermen.
Asked if the DMK was putting pressure on the Centre to carry out the project, Pandian shot back, "it is not a party project, but a national project."
To a query on AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa's charge that only small ships could enter the canal under the present plan, Pandian quipped, "Dredging a canal at least for the entry of small ships will be better than doing nothing. If Jayalalithaa becomes prime minister, she can deepen the canal and the Communists will not object".
The Left leaders added that they had met fishermen from all districts and none of them had complained that they would be affected by the present alignment of the project. "We are working with all fishermen's groups everyday and know the ground realities," they said.
Asked if the Left parties will press for a Common Minimum Programme with the DMK government in the state, Pandian said, "It is commendable that a party is implementing its manifesto. The DMK is a reliable ally while fighting communal forces. Also, the DMK is fighting for developmental projects like the SSCP, which we support."
The CPI and CPI-M will hold a joint campaign from October 20 to 25, demanding that the India-United States nuclear agreement be scrapped completely and for the implementation of SSCP, they said.
They will also campaign against the practice of untouchability practised in some parts of the state and for the empowerment of women.