New Delhi, Sep 18 (UNI) In the midst of a raging controversy over the Ram Setu, Shipping Minister T R Baalu today said work on the Rs 2427-crore Sethu Samudram Canal Project (SSCP) was going apace and dredging work had been stalled only in the area of Adam's Bridge (Ram Sethu) in view of the Supreme Court directive.
''The work on the SSCP has not been affected by the Supreme Court's directive on September 14. Dredging work in the Adam's Bridge area, which was stalled on Friday, would resume only after the approval from the court,'' Mr Baalu said.
The minister had yesterday issued a statement saying the government would soon approach the apex court and obtain appropriate orders ''to continue working in this region (Adam's Bridge) also and is confident of completing the project at the earliest.'' Mr Baalu did not set a timeframe for moving the court, which had posted the case for further hearing in the first week of January next year.
He, however, referred to a Supreme Court judgement in Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) vs Union of India case in 2000.
''When such projects are undertaken and hundreds of crores of public money is spent, any individual organisation in the garb of PIL cannot be permitted to challenge the policy decision taken after a lapse of time.
''It is against the national interest and contrary to the established principles of law that decisions to undertake developmental projects are permitted to be challenged after a number of years during which period public money has been spent in the execution of the project.'' Skirting the controversy on the historicity of Lord Ram and Ram Setu, he said, ''We are only concerned with the SSCP. We are committed to the project.'' The SSCP envisages dredging of a ship channel to connect the Gulf of Mannar and Bay of Bengal through Palk Bay so that the ships, moving between the East and West coast of India, would have a continuous navigable sea route around the peninsula within India's own territorial waters.
On completion, it wil save up to 424 nautical miles of distance and up to 30 hours of sailing time for these ships.