Government to respond to apex court call on Ram setu next weekJuly 24th, 2008 - 8:00 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, July 24 (IANS) The government would respond to the Supreme Court’s suggestion for an alternative alignment off the Ram Setu for the Setusamudram shipping channel, the court was informed Thursday. “I have conveyed to the highest quarters in the government the bench suggestion for an alternative alignment for the channel to balance the issues of faith and logic,” Government counsel Fali S. Nariman told the bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, which also included Justices R.V. Raveendran and J.M. Panchal.
On Thursday, Nariman resumed his arguments opposing various lawsuits against the Setusamudram shipping channel, a shorter navigational route around India’s southern tip, cutting through the Ram Setu or Adam’s bridge.
He added the government was expected to formally respond to the suggestion by Tuesday or Wednesday next week after duly considering the same.
The 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 believe it was the bridge Lord Ram’s army built to cross over to Lanka to rescue his wife Sita.
The apex court more than once mooted the idea of an alternative alignment for the shipping channel to spare the Ram Setu, as several Hindu groups have opposed the plan considering its religious importance.
The bench Wednesday suggested: “If the government approach is that avoiding the 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.”
“It’s easy to create an issue. Why create a mammoth issue, if you have an alternative?” it remarked, suggesting the government to opt an alternative alignment for the channel, other than the present ‘alignment 6′, which traverses across the Ram Setu.
After examining various project reports, spanning a period of 150 years, the bench said, “There were nine study report (for the shipping channel project) before the independence and six afterwards. All of them avoided Ram Setu. This is the first proposal of ‘alignment 6′ that touches the Ram Setu,” the bench observed.
It suggested the government “to consider ‘alignment 4′ with some curve as it would be away from the bridge as well as the marine biosphere”.
On May 8 too, the bench had made the same suggestion, besides asking the government to have the Archaeological Survey of India conduct a study to examine if 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,” the bench had suggested, while hearing the issue before the summer vacation.
“By this, the government may like to avoid the controversy,” the bench had remarked.