Chennai: Backing the controversial Sethusamudram project, ruling UPA's key partner DMK on Thursday asked that the Centre not succumb to efforts to derail it in the name of Ram Setu, saying that detractors are even "defaming" Lord Ram by invoking his name to stall it.

"Not just the Centre, but rationalists and those who favour Tamil Nadu's welfare, should decide only on implementing the project there (on the said route)," DMK chief M Karunanidhi, a strong supporter of the project, said.

The 88-year-old leader had courted controversy during the height of the controversy when he wondered if Lord Ram was an engineer and whether he had constructed Ram Setu when critics had argued against its demolition as part of the multi-crore project.

To reporters' queries on Centre declining to take a stand in the Supreme Court over declaring Ram Setu as a national monument, as also demanded by Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, he sought to know why the project, after completion, cannot be declared so.
"It may be a national monument to them...They (detractors) are defaming him (Lord Rama) by invoking his name to derail the project and Centre should not succumb to such designs," he said, adding that the Centre should decide on implementing the project according to its original plan.

SSCP proposes linking Palk Bay and Gulf of Mannar between India and Sri Lanka by creating a shipping channel through the shallow sea and a chain of islands known as Ram Setu or Adam's Bridge.

 The project was flagged off in 2005 but later found opposition following a decision to dredge Ram Setu, believed to have been constructed by Lord Ram to cross to Sri Lanka.