DR. T. SUMATHY (A) THAMIZHACHI THANGAPANDIAN (CHENNAI SOUTH):
Thank you very much, hon. Chairperson Sir, for allowing me to
participate in this discussion on the Demand for Grants under the control of the
Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways.
I would like to begin the discussion with a quote by the famous British
Economist and Nobel Laureate Ronald H. Coase. He once said:
“If you torture the data long enough, it will confess to anything.”
I find more meaning after listening to the speeches of the hon.
Members from the Treasury Benches. Why I had highlighted this quote here is
because of this. They are trumpeting and boasting about their own welfare
measures and policies. There are figures on papers and social media. I could
see a huge difference between what is showcased by the Union Government
in terms of data and the actual quality of life that the citizens are living in the
backdrop of economic exploitation and socio-political inequalities. Equality is
not a chimera, respected Sir. I would like to point out one important index. In
the UN-Sponsored Happiness Index 2022, among the 149 countries, sadly,
India could occupy 106th rung in the ladder. Why is it so? It is because the
Union Government is just supporting one part of the corporate sector, and is
totally neglecting the weaker sections of our society, particularly the native
tribes of our country. I will tell you the reasons for that. I would like to highlight
my point with three special issues. The State of Tamil Nadu has been gifted
with 608 fishing villages dotting the State’s coastline. They harvest over half amillion tonnes of marine products every year, making it the fifth-largest fish producing State of the country. But you may look at the plight of the fishermenfolk of Pulicat. It has been elaborately stated by my fellow hon.Parliamentarian, Dr. Jayakumar regarding the expansion of Kattupalli Port. Butfor the persistent resistance by the women of Pulicat and also the Government of Tamil Nadu, it would have been implemented by this time. Who is the beneficiary? The cat is out of the bag. It is mainly for the advantage of the Marine Infrastructure Developer Private Limited, a subsidiary of Adani Ports. Now, I can point out before this august House that on which side of the scale the Union Government is trying to push up. The same thing can be pointed out as regards the development of a new port, that is, the Enayam Port at Ramanthurai seashore.
I would like to request the hon. Minister to consider the plight of the
fishermen folks. If the Enayam port is being established there, the project
would displace over 50,000 fishermen families. The six-kilometre-long
breakwater structure to be constructed as part of the project would cause
severe sea erosion affecting 27 villages.
The second issue I would like to highlight is this. As a strong federalist,
our Chief Minister, Thalapathy M.K. Stalin, who is not only a staunch patriot but
also a strong federalist, has registered disagreement with the new draft Indian
Ports Bill, 2021, a year ago, since the Bill diluted the powers vested with the
States, and the State Governments will not have any major role anymore. The
Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways has framed the draft Bill to modify the current management mode of minor ports. That is why, our Chief Minister
took up the issue with the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways, strongly
opposing such steps to reduce the autonomous role of the States in regulation
and management of minor ports.
Our hon. Minister was proudly saying that in London Museum, Indian
ship is being displayed. As a proud Tamilian, we have a rich heritage history of
King Raja Raja Chola who had a fleet of warriors conquering the world with
Tamil Nadu coast being used as the major shipping ports.
HON. CHAIRPERSON : He was called the Saptasamudreswar.
DR. T. SUMATHY (A) THAMIZHACHI THANGAPANDIAN: Exactly, thank you
He was reigning supreme against many rulers. When Asoka was there,
he never submitted to him. Raja Raja Chola was there against Chandragupta
Maurya and against Aurangzeb. As a proud Tamilian, I am proud to quote him
The third important issue is the Sagarmala project. Much has been
trumpeted about that. The Ministry has projected a total requirement of Rs.690
crore under the broad Head ‘Sagarmala’. However, only Rs.412.79 crore has
been allocated. Even this amount of Rs.412.79 crore is not for the Sagarmala
This amount also includes allocation of Rs.52.89 crore for the harbour
works of Andaman and Lakshadweep and also for the development of minor
ports. What it effectively means is that against the projected demand of Rs.690
crore, of which every Treasury Bench Member has been trumpeting about, the
allocation made to the flagship programme of the Ministry of Shipping, Ports
and Waterways, that is, ‘Sagarmala,’ is merely Rs.360 crore. It is just 52.17 per
cent of its projected requirement.
When multimodal transportation and Gati Shakti were the buzzwords of
the Finance Minister’s Budget speech, this reduction in Sagarmala reeks of
hypocrisy and lack of real intent on the part of the Government. Our Prime
Minister has tweeted about the country’s economical and industrial progress
with all the rosy numbers. But I would compare it with the data of Goebbels.
Out of the 44 Sagarmala projects under various stages of development, no
funds have been released for as many as 31 projects.
Sir, I would like to conclude with a quote of C.D. Burns. I quote:
“There is a vast difference between giving out a benevolence and
supplying a legitimate demand.”
Both should balance. I would request the hon. Minister and the Union
Government to balance both these aspects, benevolence as well as supplying
a legitimate demand, and deliver its goods to the public, not merely as a
benevolence but as a due right of the people. Thank you.