People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 08

February 21, 2010

DYFI Stages Hunger Strike on Sethu Project


THE Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) has demanded implementation of the Sethu Samudhram project without any delay as it would provide job opportunities to the youth in Tamilnadu. The UPA government has spent on this project as much as Rs 2400 crore since 2005 but the project is yet to be completed. The DYFI has pointed out that the people�s money has so far been in vain without benefiting anybody. For this demand, the DYFI also organised a 24 hours hunger strike at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi, from February 12 to 13.

From the very British days, the project was described as viable, as one that would benefit Tamilnadu, in particular the southern region of the state. The Sethu Samudhram project is expected to pave the way for ship operations along the coast as well as for development of the concerned region. The government has done some assessment and formulated a proposal, which indicates that the project will bring about at least 13 small ports in Tamilnadu. 

Yet the project has not seen the light of the day though many have been demanding its implementation for the last 160 years. In fact, almost all the political parties in Tamilnadu support this demand. So much so that even the BJP supported this demand when it was in power. Their ministers who had the portfolios of shipping and geology had given their no objection certificates for the project. After the BJP led NDA lost power in 2004, the UPA government, supported by the Left, accepted it and started the work of the project. But technical experts say that the project, except for 300 square metres, is yet to be completed. In the meantime, the amount which was allotted for the project is almost finished. Dredging machines have been sent to their original places and the project has stopped midway. The government of India has not much concern for that money or people�s welfare and development. Moreover, the government of India is not prepared to convince either the fundamental forces who are against the project or the court about the way the people will get benefits from the project.

Instead, the government of India has appointed one more committee to find out a new route for operation of the ships. After spending a lot of money and years, we have reached at a dead end where the central government�s approach towards the Sethu Samudhram project does not appear to be people oriented.

The southern part of Tamilnadu has often witnessed caste clashes. In 1996 the state government appointed a commission under Justice Mohan to analyse its causes and suggest remedies. In its report, the commission recommended that the government must take steps to develop the region and to provide jobs in order to stop the caste clashes. That is why the DYFI, a major youth organisation, has been conducting a continuous struggle in support of the Sethu Samudhram project. The DYFI organised a hunger strike in Tamilnadu in 1998, a rally and demonstration in New Delhi in 2000, a series of campaigns all over Tamilnadu in 2007, and an about 3000 km long bicycle jatha in Tamilnadu in 2008. The 24 hours hunger strike in New Delhi on February 12-13 was also a part of this agitation, to press the government to implement the project without any further delay.

Brinda Karat, MP, inaugurated the hunger strike on February 12 and S G Ramesh Babu, president of the Tamilnadu state unit of DYFI, presided. The hunger strikers were addressed by the DYFI�s all-India leaders like Tapas Sinha, P Sree Ramkrishnan, Pushpender Tyagi, and S Kannan. SFI joint secretary G Selva and AIKS joint secretary Noorul Hooda fecilitated it. (INN)