Senior BJP leader and Union Minister Pon. Radhakrishnan said the Centre was firm in its proposal to build a bridge across Palk Strait, connecting Dhanushkodi, the eastern tip of Rameswaram island, and Talaimannar in Sri Lanka.
Talking to reporters here on Saturday, he said the project was in the preliminary stage but the government was firm in going ahead with it and realise the dream of Mahakavi Bharathi. The Sri Lankan government is expected to give its nod for the project, Mr. Radhakrishnan said.
Once the project is executed, Danushkodi, which became a ghost town after the 1964 cyclonic storm, would flourish and the extension of a four-lane highway from Paramakudi to Rameswaram would be automatically implemented, he said.
Rejecting a suggestion that the Centre was delaying the construction of a memorial for the former President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam at Pei Karumbu near here, he said it had just received clearance from the State government and the memorial would emerge as one of the best in the country.
To a question, Mr. Radhakrishnan said the NDA, after coming to power in May 2014, had secured the release of fishermen, whenever they were arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy on charges of poaching. The External Affairs Ministry was taking steps to work out a lasting solution to the vexatious issue.
The question of retrieving Katchatheevu would be decided if it came in the way of working out a lasting solution to the fishermen issue, Mr. Radhakrishnan said.
Prays for poll victory
Earlier, Mr. Radhakrishnan performed a special puja to ‘navagrahas’ at the Navapashanam temple at Devipattinam near here and prayed for the party’s victory in the May 16 Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu.
The Minister, who was on a day’s visit to the district to address an election rally, performed the pujas to the nine planetary deities and sought divine intervention to defeat the two major Dravidian parties in the State.
Legend has it that Lord Ram after offering worship at the Vinayakar temple at Uppur in the district installed the deities and offered ‘navagraha puja’ before leaving for Sri Lanka to take on Ravana and rescue his wife Sita.
The Union Minister also offered prayers at the ‘Ulagalanda Perumal Temple’ and took part in the ‘Navagraha Dosha Nivarana Yagam’ and ‘Shatru Samhara puja.’ (The Hindu)