Centre to put Setu on hold? Scrap Setu project.

Centre to put Sethu on hold? Scrap Setu project. 

Scrap the Setu channel project

Dr.Subramanian Swamy’s letter to the Prime Minster

January 7, 2008
Dr.Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister
South Block
New Delhi 110011.

Dear Manmohanji:

I learn from a media report that you are being apprised of the draft counter affidavit to be filed in the Supreme Court in my Writ Petition on the Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project. In an earlier hearing of the Court, my prayer for injunction against the demolition or damaging of the Rama Setu, while dredging, was granted.

Your Government’s earlier counter affidavit rubbishing Bhagwan Sri Rama and the Ramayana was also withdrawn. An assurance in writing was then given by the Government’s counsel that an amicable way would be found after due consultation with the petitioners, and a fresh counter affidavit would be filed.

If indeed media reports on your interest in the matter are correct, then I urge you to take an active lead to find an amicable way out which would entail not touching the Rama Setu. If indeed Rama Setu is to be regarded as a national heritage and an inalienable site of Hindu reverence and faith, the Rama Setu cannot be then touched since it will be entitled to be fully protected under the Ancient Monuments and Archeological Sites & Remains Act (1958).

Hence, it would be appropriate that, and a proper way, if the claim of all Hindus on the Rama Setu site is researched by the newly proposed National Heritage Commission that is to be set up soon according to un-contradicted media reports. Till then your Government may adhere to the status quo on the Rama Setu matter. Your Government’s counsels may then ask for an adjournment on January 16th when the case is to be listed. I am taking this cooperative approach because my petition is in the nature and form of a PIL and hence non-adversarial. Please therefore do not permit divisive actions for a project which is economically unsound, environmentally disastrous and national security-wise risky. You may have seen Prof.T.A.D.Murthy’s paper submitted to the Indian Science Congress presently in session in Vishakapatnam wherein he has warned of dire consequences from the next Tsunami if Rama Setu is breached.

The SSCP is a foolish venture doomed to failure. Do not allow your reputation sink with it. I am enclosing a copy of a letter dated April 8, 1999 of the Ministry of Environment to the Ministry of Surface Transport urging the scrapping of the Project.

Warm Regards,
Yours sincerely,



January 20, 2008

LTTE and US to benefit from canal project
—Dr Subramaniam Swamy

Dismantle Sethusamudaram project Ram Sethu is a well planned conspiracy. It is evident that UPA government, LTTE, AIADMA and America are all involved in this conspiracy. After demolishing the Ram Sethu America, LTTE and Sri Lanka will be in the advantageous position. But by all means this conspiracy will not be successful. Nationalist groups are ready to rescue this operation. Ram Sethu Raksha Manch organised a massive rally in New Delhi on December 30, 2007. In this rally millions of people had congregated for the success of the rally and showed their strength to save the Ram Sethu and were ready to face any consequences to save the Ram Sethu, said ex-MP, Dr Subramaniam Swamy while speaking in a Symposium, which was organised by Navlok Bharat Magazine. This Seminar was chaired by Achutanand Misra, Vice Chancellor Makhan Lal Chaturvedi Patrakarita.
In his speech Dr Swami has said that Ram Sethu and Hindus are the main targets. How to finish the Hindus this conspiracy is going on since long.
He said if the Ram Sethu were broken it would help the organisation like LTTE to have an easy access to India and would obliterate the huge deposit of Thorium. He also expressed that he would submit to the Supreme Court the report prepared by a Geological Survey of India team comprising six persons including its director. The report concealed by the Centre would corroborate the fact that the bridge was man-made. He would also submit to the court the compilation of photographs taken by a satellite.
He also said that UPA government ministers are supporting Sethusamudaram project because of its own benefits. But truth is that minister T.R. Balu’s company will get huge advantage rather than country.
From Anil Sharma in Bhopal


NT Bureau | Fri, 11 Jan, 2008 , 03:07 PM


In a signifcant political development, the Union Cabinet has reportedly decided to put the contentious Sethu Samudram ship canal project (SSCP) on hold till elections in Karnataka, Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhyapradesh and Chattisgarh this year, disregarding pressure from the DMK.

The affidavit that has to be filed in the Supreme Court by 16 January on the issue is likely to reflect the Centre’s new position.

It may be recalled that the Supreme Court has stayed the project. According to sources, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh in consultation with Congress president Sonia Gandhi and other top leaders of the All India Congress Commitee (AICC) is said to have decided against going ahead with Sethu ship canal project.

Nor does the AICC wants the Centre to aggressively support SSCP and hurt its electoral prospects. Specially, embarrased by the drubbing it received at the hustings in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, the party high command wants the government to play safe on the issue and not want to be seen as being opposed to Lord Rama, who is worshipped all over the country.

It may be recalled that the affidavit filed by the Central government on SSCP tussle in the apex court in September last year questioning the existence of Sri Rama and Ram Sethu over Palk Straits backfired and trigerred a huge controversy inviting all round condemnation. Even senior Congress leader Karan Singh condemned the affidavit as anti-Hindu in the party mouthpiece Sandesh.

Considering the sentiments of people and in view of vehement opposition to the plan from milions and millions of Hindus, the Congress wants to be doubly sure that its eagerness to placate an important southern ally does not cost it dearly in electoral terms in other parts of the country.

In a related development, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is overseeing the preparation of the draft affidavit on Sethu issue that will be filed in the apex court soon. Manmohan has already held several round of discussions with Secretaries and other top officials of the Culture and Law Ministries.

Deeply embarrased by the controversy the Centre’s affidavit created last time, the government does not want to take any chance now. Sources said that the Prime Minister discussed the affidavit with culture minister Ambika Soni in detail last week.

It was decided that the affidavit should only contain essential averments and describe the position of the government in a matter of fact fashion. It was also agreed at the meeting that the affidavit will pass through more levels of and scrutiny and better analysis.

Baalu in troubled waters

Shipping and Surface Transport Minister T R Baalu, whose unseemly eagerness over the SSCP project has been a talking point in New Delhi, seems to have fallen out  with Culture Minister Ambika Soni over the feasibility of resuming the project.

According to a news agency report, differences between the Congress and its ally DMK over the controversial Sethusa-mudram shipping canal project have come to the fore.

The agency, quoting an unnamed Union Minister, said on the fate of the SSCP project: ‘it will meet the same fate as the India-US nuclear deal’.

The news agency further said Baalu is under pressure from his leader, Tamilnadu Chief Minister M Karnuanidhi, to force the UPA government to commence the work on the project at the earliest.


ASI gears up to play safe on Ram Setu

Thursday, January 10, 2008 21:29 [IST]

New Delhi: With the Sethusamudram project coming up in the Supreme Court next Wednesday, a fresh affidavit has been firmed up by the government which is expected to contend that there was no scientific evidence to suggest that Ram Setu was man-made.

After the fiasco over the affidavit by the government on the issue in September last year, the government is very cautious this time in drafting the affidavit with even minute details being checked and cross-checked again and again.

Confabulations on the affidavit are underway involving Shipping Minister T R Baalu, Culture Minister Ambika Soni and Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrasekhar, sources said today.

Even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is being kept in the loop over the issue considering the sensitivity of the issue that has the potential of triggering a political uproar.

In the affidavit, whose draft is ready, the government is understood to have stated that there is no scientific evidence to suggest that Ram Setu between India and Sri Lanka was man-made. The government cites photographs taken by foreign space institutions like NASA to press its argument.

A major political row had erupted in September after the affidavit by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) said that there was no evidence to suggest existence of Lord Ram. The controversy had forced the government to withdraw the affidavit and promised to file a fresh one on January 16. 

The government had constituted a 10-member committee of eminent persons headed by A Ramachandran, vice-chancellor of Madras University, to examine the Sethusamudram project.

The committee is understood to have submitted in its report that Ram Setu or Adam’s Bridge was formed naturally. It has cited geological, geographical and remote sensing investigations besides the studies by Geological Survey of India to support the argument.

The Rs 2,427 crore Sethusamudram project entails dredging a channel in a narrow strip of sea between India and Sri Lanka. Justifying the project, the government maintains that it will help reduce distance and cut costs for freight traffic.

When completed, the project will shorten the journey by 785 km cutting down travel time by nearly 30 hours. Now ships coming to the peninsula have to circumnavigate Sri Lanka.

The project is being opposed by the Sangh Parivar, which contends that it will entail breaking the bridge built by Lord Rama. Environmentalists are also opposed to it as they feel it will affect the marine ecology. 

Source : PTI


Govt to seek more time from SC for filing Setu affidavit
11 Jan 2008, 0128 hrs ISTclip_image001,clip_image002TNN
NEW DELHI: Government has decided to seek more time to spell out its stance on the controversial Sethusamudram project before the Supreme Court, in what is sure to annoy DMK but reflects Congress’s anxiety not to give fresh ammunition to BJP in the lead-up to coming state polls and the Lok Sabha battle.
It has decided to seek more time from the apex court to file the affidavit on the issue. The decision was taken at a meeting of ministers convened by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday, with participants taking the view that the government should finalise one affidavit to eliminate the scope for a fiasco of the sort that resulted in the “Ram did not exist” assertion by a law officer.
Shipping minister, DMK’s T R Baalu, is pressing for early resumption on the controversial project which has raised the hackles of Sangh Parivar and conservationists alike. His ministry has cited the report of “experts” to back up its claim that Adam’s Bridge, known as Ram Setu, was not man made.
However, his colleagues, who included foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee, home minister Shivraj Patil, culture minister Ambika Soni and law minister H R Bhardawaj, are learnt to have counselled caution at the meeting. They are also learnt to have countered Baalu’s pitch for early resumption of work on the project to dredge a canal through the Setu by saying that they did not have time to go through the work of “experts” spread over two volumes.
Accordingly, a committee of secretaries has been asked to harmonise the views of the different ministries. Headed by the cabinet secretary, the panel will include secretaries of the ministries of law, shipping and culture.
The breather thus gained will come as a respite for Congress strategists who suspect that the BJP, buoyed by its successes in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, may be lying in wait to pounce on the project. Sangh Parivar has left little secret about its intent. Last fortnight, they organised a massive show of strength in the Capital to oppose the project in what marked renewed collaboration among BJP on the one hand and other saffron affiliates like VHP and Bajrang Dal after a long period of estrangement.
Congress’s anxiety to avoid a repeat of the double whammy it received in December in the contests spread over the year is increasingly evident. It took stock of the situation at a meeting of senior leaders at 10, Janpath on Thursday evening, and ruled in favour of the launch of a populist agenda in the coming months. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, finance minister P Chidambaram and commerce minister Kamal Nath were present, a sign that the policies from now on will increasingly be geared to address party’s concerns and a renewed confirmation that the budget will be a please-all exercise.


Saturday January 12 2008 00:00 IST (Dinamani)

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Sethusamudram project: Centre may change position

NDTV Correspondent

Thursday, January 10, 2008 (New Delhi)

The Centre has been forced to rethink its position on the proposed Sethusamudram project to dredge a shipping channel between India and Sri Lanka that threatens the Ram Setu.
The affidavit would be prepared by Cabinet Secretary and three other secretaries.
The decision was taken at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The Culture Minister Ambika Soni and Shipping Minister Baalu attended meeting.
The government has decided to avoid another controversy by getting the shipping and culture ministries to file a single affidavit on the project.
For this, it will ask the Supreme Court for more time.


Congress, DMK differ on Sethusamudram

Differences between the Congress and its ally DMK over the controversial Sethusamudram shipping canal project have come to the fore.

From correspondents in Delhi, India, 11 Jan 2008 12:00 AM – (http://www.indiaenews.com)

Differences between the Congress and its ally DMK over the controversial Sethusamudram shipping canal project have come to the fore.

Shipping and Surface Transport Minister T.R. Baalu, who represents the DMK in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, has been at loggerheads with Culture Minister Ambika Soni over the feasibility of resuming the project, a senior minister said Thursday on condition of anonymity.

Asked about the fate of the project, the minister said, ‘Ask Baalu and Ambika’, indicating the Congress and the DMK were readying for a fight on the issue.

‘This project will meet the same fate as the India-US nuclear deal,’ the minister told IANS.

The project, involving dredging a canal in the Indian Ocean between India and Sri Lanka, has been opposed by several Hindu groups as well as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), as it would affect a formation known as Ram Setu, mentioned in the Hindu epic Ramayana.

The Supreme Court has stayed the project.

Sources in the government said that Baalu is under pressure from his leader, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK chief M. Karnuanidhi, to force the UPA government to commence the work on the project at the earliest.

However, following protests since last year led by the BJP and others, the Congress has been reluctant to push the project aggressively.


Govt to do a Rao on Sethusamudram affidavit
11 Jan, 2008, 0212 hrs IST,Aarthi Ramachandran, TNN

NEW DELHI: With the BJP raising its pitch on the Ram Sethu issue, the Congress at the Centre has decided to go slow over the filing of a fresh affidavit on the contentious issue.
The move, which is bound to create discomfort for UPA ally, DMK, which has been at the forefront of demanding that work on the ship channel project be undertaken at the earliest, seems to have been guided by the Congress’ electoral concerns in the months leading up to the next Lok Sabha polls.
The decision to take time in filing of a fresh affidavit, which was due in the Supreme Court on January 16, came at a meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee, law minister H R Bharadwaj, shipping and surface transport minister T R Baalu and culture minister Ambika Soni on Thursday.
To study the matter further, the Congress has decided to constitute a group of secretaries, which will be represented by the culture, law and shipping ministries, and be overseen by the cabinet secretary.
With the committee in place, indications are that the Congress would put-off taking a view on the question of Ram Sethu until the next general elections.
This ‘solution’ on the controversial issue of whether or not to carry on construction on the Sethusamudram Project which will cut across the Ram Sethu — a chain of coral reef taken to be the bridge mentioned in the Ramayana — is bound to be played up by the opposition AIADMK in Tamil Nadu as a vindication of its stand.
While DMK has articulated repeatedly that work on the stalled ship channel project be taken up as soon as possible, AIADMK in Tamil Nadu has opposed the move, just as the BJP has in New Delhi and elsewhere .
The Congress had handed the BJP a plum election issue after the Archaeological Survey of India filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court denying that there was no historical evidence about Ram Sethu or the characters in the Ramayana.
Though the ‘offensive portion’ of the affidavit had been withdrawn within a matter of days by the government, the matter got exacerbated after DMK chief and Tamil Nadu chief minister M Karunanidhi’s statements on Ram.
Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi used the issue during the just concluded assembly elections in the state to hit out at the Congress-led government at the Centre.
The BJP has already advertised its intention of making Ram Sethu a big issue by getting its leadership to attended a meeting organised by a Sangh forum floated for ‘saving the bridge’.
Though the Congress has been hitting out at the BJP, pointing out that it was the NDA government that made all preparations for the project, including the selection of current alignment for the channel, it seems to have decided not to aggravate the issue by filing a fresh affidavit on the subject.



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