Scrap Sethusamudram

The Pioneer Edit Desk

Declare Ram Setu ancient monument

The directions issued by the Supreme Court on Thursday in the Ram Setu case are most welcome for they show that it has taken cognisance of the sensitivities involved in the matter. The Supreme Court has rightly sought to know about the possibility of conducting an archaeological study to ascertain whether Ram Setu can be declared an ancient monument under the definition of the existing law. In doing this, the Supreme Court has reminded the UPA Government of a directive by the Madras High Court that the Archaeological Survey of India should carry out investigations to determine whether or not Ram Setu is an ancient monument. This is an important issue as a declaration that Ram Setu is an ancient monument or an archaeological site containing material of historical importance would bring it under the protection of The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958. A declaration to this effect would automatically preserve Ram Setu from destruction through dredging needed for the creation of a shipping channel through the Palk Strait. Such a declaration is not impossible for the definition of an ancient monument or an archaeological site under the Act is perhaps wide enough to include not just artificial edifices but also formations whose antiquity it may be impossible for science to determine. The Supreme Court Bench, headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan, has also asked the Centre to explore whether an alternative alignment can be considered for the Sethusamudram Ship Channel project. As will be recalled, the project proposes to link the Palk Bay with the Gulf of Mannar through the narrow body of water between India and Sri Lanka. This was to be done by dredging a channel through the shallow seas and destroying Ram Setu, also known as Adam's Bridge. While the project ostensibly aims to create a shorter route around the Indian peninsula, it has been vehemently opposed across the country on religious, environmental and economic grounds. By far, the most important ground for spiking the project is that it mocks at popular faith.

Ram Setu has considerable significance for Hindus as it is believed to have been created by Hanuman's Vaanar Sena to enable Ram to rescue Sita from Ravan in Lanka. It is intrinsically linked to the Ramayan tradition and for millions of Hindus, it is inseparable from their cultural identity and, therefore, is venerated. This is the way it has been for centuries and it makes no sense to repudiate popular faith for a dubious project being pushed by individuals with a dubious reputation. The Supreme Court has, in its own way, suggested a solution to the problem which is entirely the creation of the UPA Government. Had Prime Minister Manmohan Singh not been so pathetically helpless in dealing with allies of the Congress, in this instance the DMK, matters would not have come to such a pass. Nor would the Government have questioned the authenticity of the Ramayan tradition and cast aspersions on the sincerity of Hindu faith, thus unleashing outrage across the country. That was not the deed of a Government acting with conviction, but a weak regime succumbing to the blackmail of those who stand to lose if the project is scrapped. The Government can now redeem itself by acting in an honourable manner: First, it must declare Ram Setu a protected monument; and, second, it should call off the project which has generated so much anger and disquiet. How this impacts certain DMK worthies is of no consequence to the nation.

SC on Ram Sethu

Big vindication for Save Ram Sethu campaign

The Supreme Courts order has come as an encouragement for the groups opposed to destruction of the Ram Sethu. Janata Party president Dr. Subramanian Swamy, a petitioner in the case, told the Organiser that the apex courts order was binding on the government in the light of the recent Madras High Court order.

Explore alternative alignments; Ask ASI to study historicity of Ram Sethu; Can it be a national monument, SC asks center

The Supreme Court on May 8 asked the union government to consider holding an archaeological survey to ascertain whether the Ram Sethu can be declared an ancient monument. The court also asked the centre to examine the possibility of carrying out the project through other alignments.

There is a specific direction of the Madras High Court that the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) should carry investigations whether Ram Sethu is an ancient monument or not, a bench headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan said. You also explore the possibility of carrying out the project through any other channels (alignments), the bench, also comprising Justices R.V. Raveendran and J.M. Panchal, said.


Centre to study Supreme Court's suggestion to explore alternative alignment of Sethusamudram

Publication Date 10/5/2008 3:39:52 PM(IST)

Chennai: Union Shipping and Highways Minister T R Baalu today said the Centre would study the Supreme Court''s suggestion to explore alternative alignments to implement the Sethusamudram Shipping Channel Project (SSCP) to avoid distruction of 'Ram Sethu'.

In a brief chat with newspersons here, he said the Supreme Court has given only a suggestion and not issued any directive. ''Its not a directive,'' he said, adding the government is yet to get details of what the apex court has said in its suggestion.
Once the details were received, the government would study them and take further steps, he said.

The Supreme Court on May eight, asked the Centre to explore the possibility of finding alternative alignments to implement the Rs 2,400 crore canal project, so that Ram Sethu is not damaged.

A three-judge bench headed by the Chief Justice also asked the Centre to inform the court whether any scientific study had been undertaken by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to ascertain whether the 25-km long Ram Sethu, also known as Adam's Bridge, is a man made ancient structure of national heritage, as per the directions of Madras High Court.