Stop Setu project; protect Rama Setu as world heritage D.K.Jain and V.P.Sharma, lawyers opposing the Sethusamudram shipping project show Hindu Holy Scriptures to media outside the Supreme Court, in New Delhi, on Wednesday. AP Dr. Subramanian Swamy appearing in the Supreme Court on 16 Jan. 2008  criticised the Tamil Nadu government which has favoured the project by ignoring the religious sentiments of the people and referred to yesterday’s proceedings on the issue of ‘Jallikattu’ (a bull fight held as part of Pongal festivities in the state).

“Yesterday the same Tamil Nadu Government which ignored the religious sentiments of people on Rama Setu took the plea of (respecting) religious sentiments for holding Jallikattu ,” he said. On jallikattu (bull-fight) case 

The SC did point out that the DMK-led government’s recourse to invoking the religious sentiments of for seeking lifting of the ban did present an obvious contradiction in terms of the Dravidian party’s outright rejection of the “faith” argument in the Ram Setu case. The controversial Sethusamudram project is being also being heard by the SC.

The state’s main argument was that a ban on the 400-year-old traditional event would hurt people’s religious sentiments. But it did not forget to mention that if the ban order was not reversed, people would defy it… The Bench said: “We do not know why the TN government is invoking religious sentiments. We wonder what would be their stand in another case pending before us. We do not want to specify which case.” It was crystal clear that the Bench was referring to Ram Setu controversy.


Press Statement 16 January 2008

Stop Setu project; declare and protect Rama Setu as ancient world heritage monument

It was reported on January 16, 2008 that the the Committee of Secretaries (CoS) –consisting of Cabinet Secretary and Secretaries, Culture, Shipping and Law — was of the opinion that the Adam’s Bridge was “clear cut natural stratigraphic of cyclic sedimentation process and not a man-made feature.”

We take serious exception to this inspired leak. The Committee appointed by the Cabinet Secretary was NOT an experts committee and was only asked to collect objections, comments and suggestions. It is the responsibility of the Centre to make public all the submissions made. The Committee did not conduct its deliberations fairly and transparently, was composed of biased members and did NOT include experts in security, navigation, marine archaeology, geology and oceanography, thus making the credibility of the Committee itself questionable. Why hasn’t the impact of another tsunami not taken into account to protect the coastline? Why is National sovereignty being impaired by creating an international boundary through an unprotected mid-ocean channel in Setusamudram?

It is shocking that CoS has not taken into account the Hon’ble Madras HC Judgment of 19 June 2007 clearly stating that Rama Setu is an ancient monument under 1958 Act. Why hasn’t Centre asked Culture Ministry to respond to this judgement which was also endorsed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court on 19 July? Whether Rama Setu is man-made or a natural formation, it is incumbent upon the Centre to respect the provisions of 1958 Act; the Madras HC noted that a stone or a cave or a body of water if more than 100 years old and if people reasonably believed in the antiquity and sacredness, such a declaration should be made. Why hasn’t ASI done any studies even after the Court directions?

Centre should decide immediately to stop all dredging work in the Setusamudram project area and scrap the unviable, ecologically disastrous project which will devastate the lives of millions of fisherfolk along the coastline. Instead a Marine Economic Zone can be set up for the benefit of marine coastal peoples’ livelihood.

Centre should declare forthwith Rama Setu as an ancient monument of national importance and take steps to declare it as a World heritage monument and also declare Rameshwaram as divyakshetram respecting the sentiments of millions of Hindus worldwide. Section 295 of IPC will be invoked for hurting the sentiments of Hindus. We hope that this is not Centre’s intention to hurt the Hindu sentiments.

Sethu project: SC grants 2 weeks time

New Delhi (PTI): The Supreme Court on Wednesday granted two weeks time to the Centre to file its affidavit on the Sethusamudram project.

The apex court in September last had asked the Government to examine the project and file an affidavit.

The Centre had in September withdrawn the controversial affidavits in which it had questioned the existence of Lord Rama and that the Rama Setu was a man-made structure.

Centre gets time on Sethusamudram

Sam Daniel

Wednesday, January 16, 2008 (Chennai)

The Centre has bought more time to frame a response on the controversial Sethusamudram project.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday gave the government two more weeks time to file its affidavit on the multi-crore project, which involves dredging a shipping channel between India and Sri Lanka.

SC gives 2 weeks to Centre to file affidavit on Setu project New Delhi, Jan 16 (PTI) Four months after ordering a review of the Sethusamudram project in the wake of the controversy over Rama Setu, the Supreme Court today gave the Centre two more weeks to complete the exercise.
At the outset, Attorney General Milon K Banerji told the Bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan that the Centre needed two weeks to file the affidavit as the committee appointed by it was re-examining the feasibility of the project.
While the Attorney General was making his submission, those opposing the project objected to the Centre seeking more time to file a comprehensive affidavit.

Janata Party President Subramanian Swamy, on whose petition the Court had passed its direction, said the Centre has not yet responded to the order passed by Madras High Court asking it to conduct an archaeological investigation whether Rama Setu could be declared as protected ancient monument.

He said before his petition was transferred to the apex court, the High Court had specifically directed the Centre to investigate whether Rama Setu qualifies to be categorised as a historical monument.

Instead, the Centre came out with two controversial affidavits questioning the existence of Lord Rama and man-made bridge Rama Setu which was withdrawn after largescale protest, Swamy said.

He criticised the Tamil Nadu government which has favoured the project by ignoring the religious sentiments of the people and referred to yesterday’s proceedings on the issue of ‘Jallikattu’ (a bull fight held as part of Pongal festivities in the state).

“Yesterday the same Tamil Nadu Government which ignored the religious sentiments of people on Rama Setu took the plea of (respecting) religious sentiments for holding Jallikattu ,” he said. 

Centre given two weeks to file Sethusamudram affidavit

By IANSNew Delhi : The Supreme Court Wednesday granted two weeks to the central government to file a comprehensive affidavit in response to various lawsuits challenging the Sethusamudram project to construct a shorter sea route around India’s southern tip.A bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan gave the government additional time after Attorney General Milan Banerjee informed it that various ministries, departments and experts were being consulted on the controversial matter.It will take some more time for the government to firm up its views on the tangled issue, Banerjee told the court while seeking additional time to file its affidavit.Former union minister Subramaniam Swamy, one of the key petitioners challenging the implementation of the project, fearing it would irreparably damage the Ram Setu between India and Sri Lanka, wanted the government to categorically tell in its affidavit whether it (Ram Setu) was a man-made structure or a natural formation.He sought the court’s directions to the government that the affidavit should be filed only by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).He wanted the affidavit to categorically state if the ASI had conducted any particular study to determine whether the Ram Setu was a man-made structure or a natural formation and if it could be declared a protected monument.The multi-million dollar Sethusamudram project in the sea dividing India and Sri Lanka will make the navigation route shorter for ships moving ling between the east and west coasts of India.The project has been opposed by many groups as well as the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as it requires breaking a portion of the Ram Setu or Adam’s Bridge.Ram Setu is a chain of limestone shoals forming a link between Sri Lanka and India. It finds mention in the epic Ramayana, which says that Lord Ram and his army of monkeys built the bridge to rescue Sita, who was abducted by demon king Ravana.Curtly dismissing Swamy’s contentions, Banerjee told the bench, also comprising of Justice R.V. Raveendran and Justice J.M. Panchal, that it was for the government to decide which agency would file the affidavit and the petitioner cannot be allowed to dictate terms on the issue.Banerjee, however, told the bench that government will file only one comprehensive affidavit on the matter.Swamy also told the bench that the Gulf of Mannar area has been declared a marine biosphere zone as it contained huge deposits of coral and dredging the Ram Setu would affect the biodiversity there.The chief justice then remarked that if the dredging activity were stopped in the Gulf of Mannar then it would mean scrapping of the entire Sethusamudram project.The apex court has already issued direction to the government not to damage the Ram Setu in any manner while carrying on the dredging.The project when completed will provide a shorter navigational route between the eastern and western coasts of India and shall save considerable time and fuel.The government, in its earlier affidavit, had doubted the existence of Lord Ram, triggering a social and political furore.The government had subsequently withdrawn the affidavit in a huff, putting the entire project on hold. It had told the court that it will come before it after reviewing the project afresh.  SETHUSAMUDRAM SC gives Centre two weeks to file affidavit New Delhi, UNI:    The Supreme Court on Wednesday gave the Centre two weeks time to file a comprehensive affidavit giving details of the latest status of dredging activities going on to complete the Sethusamudram project.                                                                                                                                             Attorney General Milon K Banerjee, appearing for the government, told the Supreme Court that the government will file only one affidavit and it was for the government to decide which agency will file the affidavit on its behalf and the petitioner cannot dictate that a particular government agency should file an affidavit.The Attorney General was responding to the contention of former Union Minister Dr Subramaniam Swamy that the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) should file an affidavit stating whether it has conducted a study to ascertain whether the Ram Sethu, also called Adam’s Bridge, was man made or a natural formation and whether it qualified for being declared an ancient monument.The three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan and Justices RV Ravindran and JM Panchal was also told that the Mannar Gulf area has been declared marine biosphere zone and it contained huge deposits of coral and dredging would destroy it. Chief Justice Balakrishnan said that if dredging activity was stopped in Mannar Gulf area then it would mean scrapping of the entire Sethusamudram project.The apex court has already issued direction to the government not to damage Ram Sethu in any manner while carrying on dredging activity.The project when complete will make the navigation between the coasts of Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka shorter and shall save considerable time.The government has already been subjected to severe criticism for questioning the existence of events and characters including that of Lord Ram in its earlier affidavit, describing them as fictitious.The affidavit had to be withdrawn under public pressure.                                 Ambika to submit findings on Ram Sethu Hoshiarpur (PTI): Union Minister for Tourism and Cultural Affairs Ambika Soni on Wednesday said that she had recently received the report on the relevance of Ram Setu from the committee of eminent persons and experts on the subject and after goingthrough it she would submit findings to the Union Cabinet for takingfurther action in this regard. Talking to media persons here, She admitted that the ministry headed by her had wrongly filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court regarding the relevance of Ram Setu which was later withdrawn and on the instructions of the court acommittee consisting of eminent persons and scholars on the subject had been constituted to find out the relevance of Ram Setu. The committee had to submit its report within three-month of its formation which ended today. “Some more time should be given to the committee toascertain whether Ram Setu is a man made structure or a natural in the sea”, she asserted. The Archaeology survey of India should thoroughly make investigations in this regard to bring reality before the public, she said. None of the political party should exploit this issue for gaining political mileage, she appealed.   


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