Ram Setu cannot be worshipped, government tells apex court

July 23rd, 2008 - 9:41 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 23 (IANS) The government Wednesday told the Supreme Court that the Ram Setu “cannot be worshipped” since it was broken by Lord Ram himself. Central government counsel Fali S. Nariman also told a bench headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan that the government has withdrawn from the court its earlier affidavit that doubted the existence of Lord Ram “in extraneous circumstances”.

Nariman, counsel for the Setusamudram Shipping Channel Corporation, made these assertions during his argument on a bunch of lawsuits challenging the construction of a shorter shipping channel cutting across Ram Setu or Adam’s Bridge in the Palk Strait, separating India and sdri Lanka. The court began hearing the issue Tuesday.

The Adam’s Bridge or Ram setu is a 48 km long chain of limestone shoals that once linked Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu with Mannar in Sri Lanka’s northwest. Many Hindus hold belief that it was the bridge Lord Ram’s army built to cross over to Lanka to rescue his wife Sita.

The bridge faces some damage due to the dredging for the ambitious Setusamudram canal project to create a navigable waterway between India’s southern tip and Sri Lanka.

“If you want to go strictly by religious scriptures, the Padma Purana has stated that Lord Ram had broken the bridge” while returning from Sri Lanka after killing Ravana and rescuing Sita, Nariman told the bench, which also included Justice R.V. Raveendran and Justice J.M. Panchal.

“And (according to Hindu faith) something which is broken cannot be worshipped. It’s also quoted extensively in the Kamban Ramayana (a version of the Hindu epic Ramayana) that Lord Rama had destroyed it,” said Nariman.

Seeking to counter arguments of various petitioners based on faith and religion and challenging the construction of the shipping channel, Nariman said, “The best approach to follow is to (ask) whether you are following legal steps.”

“The affidavit (that doubted the existence of Lord Ram) was withdrawn in extraneous circumstances,” Nariman added.

Maintaining that “legal issues cannot be decided on the basis of faith”, Nariman asserted: “We are not destroying any bridge. There is no bridge. We are only building a shipping channel.”

The government resorted to an assertive stance Wednesday, despite the fact that it had on May 8 acceded to a suggestion by the court to explore the possibility of adopting an “alternative alignment” sparing the Ram Setu for building the shipping channel.

In fact, even during Wednesday’s arguments, the bench earlier counselled the government to consider an “alternative alignment” for the shipping channel to avoid all the acrimony, entailing the project.

“If the government approach is that avoiding access to Ram Setu or Adam’s Bridge is not possible, then it’s a different issue. But, if an alternative is available, there is no issue,” observed the bench.

“It’s easy to create an issue. Why create a mammoth issue, if you have an alternative?” the bench remarked, suggesting the government to opt an alternative alignment for the channel, other than the ‘alignment 6′, which goes across the Ram Setu.

After examining various project reports, spanning a period of 150 years, the bench said: “There were nine study reports (for the shipping channel project) before the Independence and six afterwards. All of them avoided Ram Setu. This is the first proposal of the alignment 6 that touches Ram Setu.”

It suggested the government “consider alignment 4 added with some curve as it will be away from the bridge as well as the marine biosphere”.

But Nariman told the bench: “The experts want to avoid curve. They want a straight channel.”

He also informed the court that till the apex court suspended the work on the project last year, the one fourth dredging of the bridge had been completed.

The arguments over the lawsuits will continue Thursday.

Related Stories

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

Posted in Politics |