Rameswaram/Chennai (Tamil Nadu), Nov 4 :
Union Surface Transport and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari Tuesday said that the five Indian fishermen recently sentenced to death by a Sri Lankan court will be got freed through legal means.
Visiting Rameswaram Tuesday, Gadkari met the family members of the five fishermen.
Later speaking to reporters, Gadkari said legal steps are being taken to secure the release of the five fishermen.
He also said a permanent solution to the harassment faced by fishermen from the Lankan forces would be found through talks.
Gadkari also said the Ram Setu (mythical bridge built by Hindu God Rama and his monkey army) would not be demolished while implementing the Sethusamudram Shipping Channel Project (SSCP).
He said the central government is looking at other options and their implications.
The project envisaged in the 1990s, seeks to create a 83-km-long deep water channel between Pamban Island, also known as Rameswaram Island, off the southeastern coast of Tamil Nadu, and Mannar Island, off the northwestern coast of Sri Lanka.
The project also seeks to develop 13 minor ports in India, and fishing harbours and other infrastructure between India and Sri Lanka.
The government decided to go ahead with the project in 2005 to cut shipping distance by 350 nautical miles and for saving 10 to 30 hours of sailing. The country also expects to earn from transit fees for usage of the channel.
Previous committees such as Pachauri expert committee had suggested a different alignment without disturbing the original Ram Setu, a chain of limestone shoals between India and Sri Lanka.