Tamil Nadu government today pleaded with the Supreme Court that controversial Sethusamundram project should be scrapped as it would adversely affect marine biodiversity and the Centre be directed to declare Ram Sethu as a national monument.
In an affidavit placed before a bench headed by Justice H L Dattu which posted the case for final hearing in August, the state government submitted the Centre should accept the R K Pachauri Committee report that has found the entire Sethusamudram project unviable on two fronts--economically and ecologically.
"It is humbly submitted that it is a travesty of justice that the careful report submitted by the Committee headed by Pachauri, a world renowned scientist, is sought to be brushed aside and dismissed in a cavalier fashion without any reasoned discussion or consideration," the 11-page affidavit, filed by state Chief Secretary Sheela Balakrishnan, said.
"Expert Committee had studied the entire climatic, ecological and geological features and the Ocean current patterns in the Palk Straits in all seasons and then finally concluded that it is unlikely that public interest would be served if the project is implemented as per alignment 4A," it said.
The Centre had, in its affidavit, said it intended to go ahead with the Rs 25,000 crore Sethusamudram shipping channel project on the ground that it has economic, navigational and strategic advantages and moreover an expenditure of Rs 829.32 crore has already been incurred on it as on June 30, 2012.
Countering the stand taken by the Centre, the state said the project should not be allowed as the proposed channel comes close to periphery of the Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park which is a marine biodiversity hotspot.
"The project has a potential danger of affecting the livelihood of fishermen living in the area. The entire coastline and territorial waters of the area is also a rich trove of marine food resources. Lakhs of fishermen are dependent for their livelihoods on fishing in this ares and adverse impact of the projects on the fisheries will spell doom for the lives of the entire fishermen community," the affidavit said.
"Since the implementation of the Sethusamundram Ship Channel Project will be a potential threat to this world renowned and unique structure, the project needs to be reconsidered," it said adding the Centre be prevented to carry out any activity which may adversely affect Ram Sethu.
The case relating to Ram Sethu had come under judicial scrutiny as a batch of petitions were filed in the apex court against the ambitious project, whose execution, the petitioners feared, could damage the mythological bridge.