New alignment of Sethusamudram not feasible, court told (Lead)

July 2nd, 2012 - 8:44 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 2 (IANS) The Supreme Court was told Monday that an alternate alignment for building Sethusamudram channel in the Palk Strait to facilitate navigation between India and Sri Lanka, while saving the mythical Rama Sethu, was “neither ecologically nor economically” feasible.

An apex court bench of Justice H.L. Dattu and Justice C.K. Prasad was told this in a report submitted by the committee headed by environmental expert Rajender Pachauri.

Pachauri gave his report after the apex court asked him to look into the possibility of an alternate alignment for Sethusamudram channel bypassing and saving the mythical Rama Sethu.

The report said that the alternate alignment “could potentially result in ecological threat that could pose a risk to the ecosystem in the surrounding areas and in particular to the biosphere reserve”.

Both in ecological as well as economic terms, it appeared questionable whether the alternate alignment represented an attractive or even an acceptable option, the report said.

The court granted the government eight weeks to respond to the report after Solicitor General Rohington Nariman told the court that the government was yet to take a view on the report and needed some time.

The need for the Sethusamudram channel was felt because ships travelling between the west and east coasts of India go around Sri Lanka because a sea channel between the two countries was blocked by the Adam’s Bridge.

The National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) made a proposal for sea channel that would have cut through the Adam’s Bridge.

The report said: “It should also be emphasised that prudent adaptation strategy to deal with projected impacts of climate change should ensure that infrastructure investments are made in a way that will not pose any risk to life or property.”

“Given the doubts raised by the detailed analysis, which has been carried out, it is unlikely that the public interest would be served by pursuing the project on the basis” of the alternate alignment, the report said.

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