Government asked to explore alternatives to dredging Ram Setu

May 8th, 2008 - 8:29 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, May 8 (IANS) The Supreme Court Thursday asked the central government to explore the possibility of sparing the Ram Setu and adopting an “alternative alignment” to build a shorter navigational route around the Indian peninsula. A bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan also asked the government to have the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) conduct a study to examine if the Ram Setu could be declared a national monument.

“We don’t say anything on the merit, but you can also explore the possibility of any alternative alignment for the channel,” said the bench, which also included Justice R.V. Raveendran and Justice J.M. Panchal.

“By this, the government may like to avoid the controversy,” said the bench at the end of the day’s argument by the petitioners opposing the implementation of the Sethusamundram Shipping Channel Project, aimed at building a shorter navigational route around the Indian peninsula.

The project envisages dredging a 30-metre wide and 12-metre deep furrow across the Ram Setu.

Ram Setu, also known as Adam’s Bridge, is a chain of limestone shoals 48 km long. Many Hindus believe that it was built during Lord Ram’s era to facilitate his journey from southern India to Sri Lanka.

Many organisations and individuals have opposed the project, pointing out the religious significance of the Ram Setu.

Counsel for the Sethusamundram Shipping Channel Corporation, Fali S. Nariman agreed to convey the court’s recommendations to the government.

The bench also asked for compliance with the June 2007 directions of the Madras High Court, which had asked the central government to explain whether ASI or any other authority had conducted any study to declare the Ram Setu a national monument.

The plea of various petitioners opposed to the project was originally being heard by the high court.

But on a central government plea, the Supreme Court transferred all petitions pending at the high court to itself.

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