New Delhi, Jan 16: The Supreme Court today 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The affidavit had to be withdrawn under public pressure.