Rama Setu: GoM fails to take place

GoM on Ram Setu fails to take place New Delhi, PTI: Jan. 29, 2008 The GoM headed by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee was supposed to look into the government affidavit to be filed in the apex court and issues related to the project. The proposed Group of Ministers (GoM) meeting to firm up the government’s affidavit before the Supreme Court on Sethusamudram project did not take place on Monday, apparently due to persisting differences on the experts committee report which said the structure was a natural formation.The GoM headed by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee was supposed to look into the government affidavit to be filed in the apex court and issues related to the project.Other members of the GoM are Culture Minister Ambika Soni, Shipping Minister T R Baalu, Law Minister H R Bhardwaj and Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal.Sources said that with the differences persisting between the Culture Ministry and the Shipping Ministry over the expert committee’s report, the issue has become more political than legal and archeological.The Culture Ministry wants an archaeological study on the structure, which the experts committee concedes has not been done, and disfavours reaching any conclusion without that.The government had in September filed an affidavit in the apex court stating that Ram Setu was a natural formation and there was no scientific proof to confirm the existence of Lord Rama but was forced to withdraw it in the face a barrage of protests, particularly from saffron outfits.                                                                                                                  http://www.deccanherald.com/Content/Jan292008/scroll2008012949258.asp?section=scrollingnews New Delhi Printer Friendly Page Send this Article to a Friend
Jayalalithaa’s petition tagged with Swamy plea

Legal Correspondent (The Hindu, Jan. 29, 2008

Seeks direction to implement project through alternative route

New Delhi: The Supreme Court will hear the plea by All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam general secretary Jayalalithaa for a direction to the Centre to implement the Sethusamudram project through an alternative route without damaging the Ramar Sethu, along with the petitions filed by Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy and others.

After hearing senior counsel K.K. Venugopal, appearing for Ms. Jayalalithaa, a Bench, comprising Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justices Tarun Chatterjee and R.V. Raveendran, on Monday directed that the matter be tagged with other petitions.

To a question from the Chief Justice, “How many matters can we entertain and what is new in the petition?” Mr. Venugopal replied, “As a former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, she has every right to represent the people of the State particularly when there is a report of a captain of the Navy which brings in security aspect and second the project is for extraneous reasons.”

The CJI told counsel: “You [Ms. Jayalalithaa] want the structure [Ramar Sethu] to be declared as a national monument. Can a structure, which is under the sea and which nobody can see be declared a national monument? Have you ever approached authorities for such a declaration? The petition coming from her [Ms. Jayalalithaa] is surprising. You can approach the appropriate authority.”

To a question from Justice Raveendran as to why the petition was filed in 2008 when the project was cleared in March 2005, Mr. Venugopal said, “All the petitions were filed only in September 2007 and there was no delay more so when new facts have come to light and the Centre is dilly-dallying the issue by not filing its response.”

He said that the petitioner was prepared to withdraw this prayer and approach the appropriate authority. But the court should consider the other prayer that the Ramar Sethu should be protected from any damage while implementing the project.

Ms. Jayalalithaa said the significance of Ramar Sethu could be appreciated from the fact that even the Survey of India adopted in 1767 a logo, “which reads ‘AaSetuHimachalam’ meaning thereby that India is spread between the Ramar Bridge and the Himalayas.” She said: “One source notes that Ramancoil has been shown on a 1747 map made in The Netherlands, called the Malabar Bowen Map of The Netherlands, and that the 1788 edition of the map called Map of Hindoostan or the Mughal Empire, which is available in Saraswati Mahal Library, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, makes reference to the bridge.” She said, “The bridge’s unique curvature and composition by age reveals that it is manmade and that archaeological studies revealed that first signs of human inhabitants in Sri Lanka date back to the primitive age of about 17,50,000 years and the bridge’s age is also almost equivalent.”

Ms. Jayalalithaa said that in 2005, she as Chief Minister had voiced concern at the damage to the ecologically sensitive zone and the effect of the project on the livelihood of fishermen. But these aspects were not considered and it was being hurried through for political reasons.

http://www.hindu.com/2008/01/29/stories/2008012959150400.htm

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