SC gives more time to centre on Palk Strait channel

September 3rd, 2012 - 10:27 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 3 (IANS) The Supreme Court Monday gave the government six more weeks to spell out its stand on building the Sethusamudram ship channel in the Palk Strait to facilitate navigation between India’s east and west coasts.

The project will link the Palk Bay and the Gulf of Mannar between India and Sri Lanka by creating a shipping canal.

An apex court bench of Justice H.L. Dattu and Justice C.K. Prasad gave six weeks time after Solicitor General Rohinton Nariman told the court that the cabinet was yet to consider the Rajendra Pachauri Committee’s report on the issue and take a view.

The court July 2 gave the central government two months to respond to the committee’s report.

The report, taken up by the apex court July 2, said that the alternative alignment for building the Sethusamudram Ship Channel, while saving the mythical Rama Sethu, was “neither ecologically nor economically” feasible.

Pachauri had given his report after the government asked him to look into the possibility of an alternative alignment - 4A - for the Sethusamudram channel which was to cut through the spit of land east of Dhanushkodi town in Tamil Nadu bypassing and saving the mythical Rama Sethu.

The committee was set up by the government July 30, 2008.

The Rama Sethu - also known as Adam’s Bridge - matter came up before the apex court after a batch of petitions, including one by Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy, were filed seeking to halt the project as it could have damaged the mythological bridge associated with Lord Rama.

The National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) had made the proposal for a sea channel that would have cut through the Adam’s Bridge for reducing the distance and connecting the Islands of Mannar (in the east of Adam Bridge) with Rameshwaram (in the west). This came to be described as alignment 6 which was to cut through the mythical bridge Rama Sethu.

The committee’s report said “…it can be seen that the project, including the possibility of adopting alignment 4A, 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”.

“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,” it said.

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