Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J.Jayalalithaa on Saturday said the Sethusamudram ship channel project will not benefit the people or the state as well as affecting the fishermen's livelihood and the environment.
She said the government has called for tenders to prepare a detailed project report for a desalination water project in Ramanathapuram district and steps are being taken for setting up an industrial park for production of petro-chemicals and fertiliser units.
Addressing an election rally in Ramanathapuram, around 510 km from Chennai, Jayalalithaa said: "Had detailed study been made it would have been clear the Sethusamudram project would have affected the environment and the livelihood of the fishermen."
She said the central government started the project in 2005 even without getting a no objection certificate from the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB).
Jayalalithaa said an expert committee set up by TNPCB had recommended carrying out a detailed environment impact study on the project. It also pointed out the deficiencies in the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute's (NEERI) environmental impact assessment report on the project.
According to Jayalalithaa, the dredging work carried out in the Palk Straits had destroyed the habitat of breeding fishes and many rare marine species shifted to different areas.
She said the channel will have a depth of 12 metres only and big ships will not be able to sail in it because of low depth.
Jayalalithaa said during 2012-13 the number of ships that called on the Tuticorin port had come down to 1,294 from 1,492 ships in 2011-12 due increase in the number of big ships in the market.
She said even the ships belonging to Poompuhar Shipping Corporation carrying coal to Tuticorin cannot use the Sethusamudram channel while goods from Haldia port are majorly transported by road to other parts of the country.
Citing the huge expenses to be incurred on dredging the channel once a ship crosses it and the ship piloting charges, Jayalalithaa said no good would happen because of this project.
She said a sum of Rs.830 crore has been wasted till date on the project and if DMK president M.Karunanidhi demands completion of the project then whose benefit would it serve.
She also said that the central government should give tax incentives for industries to set up their units in southern districts of the state.