Ram Sethu not to be damaged for Sethusamudram canal project : Centre

Laverne Higgins
March 17, 2018

The Rajender Pachauri Committee report said the alternate alignment for building Sethusamudram shipping channel while saving the Rama Sethu was "neither ecologically nor economically" feasible.

The Centre filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court on Friday saying it had abandoned the alignment that would have involved dredging Ram Sethu or Adam's Bridge for the Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project (SSCP).

Acting on BJP leader Subramanian Swamy's petition, the apex court in 2007 had restrained the Centre from cutting or damaging Ram Setu. In the affidavit, the government meant to pursue the implementation of the Sethusamudram project after understanding the advantages of it.

The PIL has sought that Ram Sethu should not be touched on the basis of religious beliefs. This would involve dredging of the limestone shoals of Adam Bridge, which is considered to be Ram Setu. The sea in the area is very shallow and hinders navigation.

Swamy mentioned the matter today, when Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand told the Court that it would not be touching the Ram Sethu, and that an affidavit has been filed to that effect.

Acting on the suggestions of the Supreme Court, the government had then appointed a high-powered committee under Dr. R.K. Pachauri to study whether an alternative route to Alignment 6 was feasible.

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According to Hindu mythology and the epic Ramayana, Ram Setu is the bridge that was built by an army of monkeys (the vanara sena) to help Lord Rama and his warriors cross over to Lanka to rescue Sita from the demon king Ravana.

In a new affidavit, the Ministry of Shipping told the court that the government wanted to go ahead with the project, but given the socio-economic disadvantages of the current alignment, it didn't want to implement it in the current form.

In September 2007, the Archaeological Survey of India submitted a contentious affidavit in the SC, claiming there was no historical or scientific evidence to establish existence of Lord Ram or Ram Setu as a man-made bridge.

The project was challenged before the Supreme Court in 2005.

Amid protests, the Congress-led government had withdrawn its affidavit in court.

Under pressure from the BJP-led Opposition, the UPA government was later forced to withdraw the affidavit filed by the ASI.

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