Ram Setu can't be declared national monument: Govt to SC

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New Delhi, Jul 29 (UNI) The Centre today contended before the Supreme Court that Ram Setu can not be declared a monument of national heritage.

Senior counsel F S Nariman, appearing for the Union Government, earlier contended that this court can not decide an issue involving policy decision and also reiterated the stand of the Centre that Ram Setu was demolished and destroyed by Lord Ram about 17 lakh years ago.

Mr Nariman also cited from 19th century British India government notification which said Ram Setu was destroyed by Lord Ram while returning from Sri Lanka after killing demon king Ravana.

He concluded his argument by saying that Ram Setu did not qualify for being declared a monument of national heritage as urged by the petitioners, who include former Union Minister Dr Subramaniam Swamy and former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa.

According to Mr Nariman all scientific studies had been conducted by the government which include the impact of natural calamities like Tsunami, cyclones and earthquakes on Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project (SSCP).

Earlier, he also informed a bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices R V Raveendran and J M Panchal, that the suggestion of this court for taking alternative route to spare Ram Setu, also known as Adam's Bridge, is being considered at the Prime Minister level and he may inform the stand of the government on the suggestion tomorrow.

Counsel for petitioners O Fernandes contended before the court that while starting Rs 2500 crore project, the government has not conducted any scientific study to minimise the impact of natural disasters and calamities on 95-feet-long ship canal.

The petitioners who will continue their argument tomorrow are mainly relying on Article 25 of the Constitution, which lays down that faith of the people has to be protected at all cost, to save 35-km-long Ram Setu from being demolished.

The apex court had already directed the Central government not to damage the Setu in any manner while carrying out dredging activities.

UNI SC KK RP AS1729

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