New Delhi, July 29 : The Centre today told the Supreme Court that it does not consider the Rama Sethu a national monument.
Senior advocate Fali S. Nariman, appearing for the Centre, told a Bench headed by Chief Justice K. G. Balakrishnan, "As far as we are concerned, the stand of the Government is very clear, that Rama Sethu could not fulfill the criteria of national monument."
Earlier, the Supreme Court had stopped construction work of the Sethusamudram project after writ petitions were filed to counter the demolition of the mythological Ram Sethu believed to have been constructed by Lord Rama.
The 560-million dollar Sethusamudram project, approved by the government in 2005, plans to dredge a channel in a narrow strip of sea between India and Sri Lanka, reducing distances and cutting costs for freight traffic between the two countries. Hindu groups have opposed the project, saying it would destroy the ancient Ram Sethu, a 48-kilometre chain of limestone shoals that once linked Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu to Mannar in Sri Lanka. The Tamil Nadu Government has requested the Centre not to shelve the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project because of issues raised by some people for their political gain.
When the project is finished, ships sailing between India's Western and Eastern coasts will not have to go around the south of Sri Lanka, and is expected to save up to 36 hours of sailing time which would strengthen the country's economy by expanding International and maritime trade.