New petition in SC to scrap Setu project: Dr. Swamy

Statement of Dr.Subramanian Swamy, President of Janata Party,made in Chennai on 19.01.2008 

1. I shall be filing a new interlocutory application {IA} next week in the Supreme Court seeking the complete scrapping of the Sethusamudran Ship Channel Project [SSCP] on the following grounds:

[a] The SSCP was sanctioned by the Union Cabinet without the mandatory prior clearance by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board. Post-sanction clearance by the TNPCB does not remove this legal defect, because retrospective environment clearance is not permitted under law.

[b] The project is in violation of the Ministry of Environment & Forest’s binding advice contained in a letter dated April 8, 1999 to the Ministry of Surface Transport that the project is an environmental disaster and should be dropped altogether. There is no new fresh data that have been collected since that make it possible for the Ministry to revise its 1999 advice.

[c] The decision to select the Alignment No.6 channel route that requires cutting through the Rama Setu is illegal because NEERI has already submitted in a 1998 Report to the government that cutting through coral rocks and reefs would require blasting by using explosives and hence it will completely destroy the marine life in the Gulf of Mannar and Palk Straits. On this binding recommendation, the Ministry of Shipping dropped the Alignment No.5 because it would have needed blasting coral rocks near Dhanushkodi. Now the Alignment No.6 favoured by the DMK leaders requires ten times more blasting hence even more illegal.

[d] Following the jallikattu revised decision of the Supreme Court, wherein it is observed that the Tamil Nadu government has accepted the principle that status quo has to be maintained if any change hurts the religious sentiments of the people, therefore the Rama Setu cannot be damaged in anyway. Jallikattu affects only one district of India, while Rama Setu is revered by nearly a billion Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, and Jains the world over. Hence the principle of religious sentiments applies even more.

[e] The SSCP’s detailed project report[DPR] was prepared before the Tsunami hit the Tamil Nadu coast. Now world renowned experts consulted by the government have opined that Rama Setu had helped to reduce the virulence of the Tsunami. Hence the DPR is out of date and the SSCP should be scrapped unless a new DPR is prepared to show that the channel will have any funnel effect in a Tsunami.

2. The SSCPis a financial white elephant. The claim of the Shipping Minister Mr. T.R. Baalu that the project will be an economic boon the Tamil Nadu is based on bogus and cooked up data. This has been proved and presented in my forthcoming newbook titled: Rama Setu–A Symbol of National Unity. Hence I shall write to the PM soon seeking sanction to prosecute Baalu under the Prevention of Corruption Act and Section 420 of the IPC.

(SUBRAMANIAN SWAMY)

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