After dithering for months, the Centre has filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court stating that it wants to go ahead with the controversial Sethusamudram project.
The Centre took this decision after rejecting the R K Pachauri Committee report, which said that the project was unviable, both economically and ecologically, the affidavit stated. The project would go ahead by cutting through Rama Sethu, also known as Adam’s Bridge.
“The Government does not accept the conclusions and recommendations of the Pachauri Committee. Given the advantages of the project, the Government of India intends to pursue the implementation of the project,” the affidavit stated and requested the Supreme Court to resolve the issues raised before it. The SC had on September 1, 2007 stayed the project after hearing arguments on a bunch of petitions including one by Janata Party president Subramaniam Swamy. To examine the feasibility of an alternate route that would not cut through the Rama Sethu, it constituted the Pachauri committee, which submitted its report in May 2012.
On April 19, 2012, the Centre refused to take a stand on declaring the Rama Sethu as a national monument and instead, requested the apex court to decide on it.
On that day, Harin Raval, Additional Solicitor General, told the court that the government would stand by its affidavit filed in 2008, in which it had said that the government respected all religions but was of the view that it should not be called upon to respond to issues of faith. The Centre filed an amended affidavit after it had withdrawn its two affidavits which questioned the existence of Lord Rama.
Meanwhile, a furious BJP demanded that the whole project be scrapped. Party spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said, “BJP and the nation will not tolerate any tampering with the Rama Sethu.”