Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party and United Progressive Alliance-Left members clashed in Lok Sabha on Wednesday over the Sethusamudram project forcing its adjournment for the day, as the government said there was no evidence of any historical structure in the area.
Trouble began when BJP leader V K Malhotra said the alignment of the project would "destroy the Ram Setu" (a mythological bridge connecting India and Sri Lanka) and such a move would hurt "religious sentiments of the Hindus."
This provoked Congress, Left and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam members.
Noisy protests from treasury benches prompted a similar response from the BJP forcing Speaker Somnath Chatterjee to adjourn the House, which was debating a calling attention motion on the matter, till 1400 hours.
As soon as the House re-assembled, Malthora resumed his speech protesting vociferously against the project.
However, members from DMK and Congress alleged the BJP was trying to derive political mileage over the issue.
A K Krishnaswami (DMK) said BJP had kept quiet since July 2005 when the project was launched while S K Kharaventhan (Congress) said even the NDA regime had approved the scheme.
In his reply, Shipping Minister T R Baalu quoted studies by Indian geological, archaeological and scientific institutes and the US National Aeronautics and Space Agency.
"There is no Ram Setu and there is only the Adam's Bridge," Baalu said drawing strong protests from BJP members who came into the well.
Despite the din, Deputy Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal continued with the proceedings.
He asked Baalu to put the Central Road Fund (Amendment) Bill, 2006, for passage. The bill was passed by a voice vote without discussion. Atwal then adjourned the House for the day.
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