Alternate route for Sethusamudram channel to be examined (Lead)

July 30th, 2008 - 5:07 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 30 (IANS) The central government has decided to appoint an expert committee to examine the feasibility of having an alternate alignment for a shorter navigational sea route around India’s southern tip, sparing the mythological Ram Setu bridge. The government Tuesday decided to have the viability of building Sethusamudram Shipping Channel via alternate route examined following the Supreme Court’s repeated suggestion to explore the possibility of avoiding damage to the Ram Setu, said to have been built by Lord Ram, senior government counsel Fali S. Nariman told the apex court here Wednesday, during a hearing on the issue.

The eight-member expert committee, constituted to examine the viability of an alternate route for the shipping channel, is to be headed by Rajendra K. Pachauri, director general of the The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI).

According to a July 29 order by the cabinet secretariat, signed by its director Rajeev Ranjan, the expert committee includes Nagpur-based National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) acting Director T. Chakarbarti and Goa’s National Institute of Oceanography Director S.R. Shetye as its members.

Three other members of the committee are Chennai-based National Institute of Ocean Technology Director S. Kathiroli, central government’s Chief Hydrographer Rear Admiral B.R. Rao and Geological Survey of India’s Director General P.M. Tajale.

Tamil Nadu government’s Environment and Forest Secretary N. Sundaradevan and state’s Ramanathapuram district’s Collector R. Kirtoshkumar will be “special invitees” to the expert committee, said the cabinet secretariat order.

“The committee will quickly examine the feasibility of the alternative alignment suggested by the Supreme Court for the Sethusamudram Shipping Channel Project between Dhanushkodi and Lands End on Rameshwaram Island keeping in view the technical aspects, cost benefit analysis, social and cultural impact, environmental impact, law and order aspect and any other related matters,” said Cabinet Secretary K.M. Chandrashekar in his order.

Giving the panel the freedom to have other experts on its board, the order said: “The committee shall submit its report as quickly as possible.”

The Sethusamudram Shipping channel is presently being built along what is known as alignment 6, which cuts through the mythological Ram Setu. This alignment was chosen by the government as it does not affect the marine biological park off Rameshwaram Island in the Gulf of Mannar.

Another “alignment 4″ had been abandoned by the government as it would have cut across the land mass of the Rameshwaram Island, besides damaging the marine biological park.

The Supreme Court, which is hearing a bunch of lawsuits objecting to the damage to Ram Setu while building a shorter navigational sea route, had been pointing out to the government that by choosing alignment 6, it has chosen to hurt faith rather than the environment.

Suggesting to the government that it balance the issues of “faith and logic”, the apex court, last May as well as last Wednesday, had asked the government to examine the feasibility of having a shipping channel, which goes up to Rameshwaram Island and then, instead of cutting through it, takes a detour to Dhanushkodi, where it meets the original route of alignment 4.

Related Stories

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in Politics |