Declare Ram Sethu ancient monument, Swamy tells panel

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Chennai, Oct 31 (UNI) Janata Party President Subramanian Swamy today asked the Committee of Eminent Persons on Sethusamudram Shipping Channel Project (SSCP) to recommend to the Centre to declare 'Ram Sethu' an ancient monument and suggested that the project be implemented in an alternative alignment through the Mandapam area.

In a statement made before the Committee here, he urged the Committee members to ''shed their past positions on the subject'' and advise the Shipping Ministry to drop the present sixth alignment and consider alternative alignments.

Dr Swamy said if the Committee considered the alternative alignment through the Mandapam area as not feasible for any reason, then the project itself should be abandoned. Now that it was apparent that the people would not brook any damage to the Ram Sethu, the Committee should recommend to the Centre to declare it an ancient monument and approach the UNESCO to declare it as a world heritage site.

He claimed that the cost-benefit analysis of the project, irrespective of the alignment chosen, was heavily flawed and based on unacceptable, untenable and highly conjectural data.

Union Shipping Minister T R Baalu's claim that the Internal Rate of Return (IRR) on the project investment would be in excess of ten per cent was false. ''Any reasonable, albeit tentative calculation, will place the IRR at less than 2.75 per cent,'' he said.

UNI

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