Centre sits on the fence in Ram Sethu issue; no decision yet

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Satellite image of Ram Sethu
New Delhi, Apr 19: The controversial Ram Sethu issue is seeing no signs of resolution after the Central government refused to take a stand on the plea by Janta party president Subramanium Swamy citing that the mythological Rama Sethu in the Palk Strait be declared a national monument.

The Centre’s stand on the issue was pronounced by an apex court bench of Justice HL Dattu and Justice Anil R Dave when it said that the Cental government does not intend to file a response on the plea.

The court hearing the matter had asked Additional Solicitor General Harin Rawal to take instructions from the government on Swamy's plea. Swamy had argued that the mythological Ram Sethu, also referred to as Adam's Bridge in the Palk Strait was sacred to the Hindu community and that it should be declared a national monument.

After the court was made aware that the Central government did not intend to file its response to Swamy's plea, the court further directed the matter to be listed for hearing in the third week of August.

The apex court had on Mar 27 asked the govt to clearly state whether the mythological Rama Sethu could be declared a national monument. The Supreme Court gave the government a day to address the issue and decided to further take up the matter on Mar 29.

The court has also directed the government to submit a report of the group led by environmental expert RK Pachauri on the feasibility of executing the Sethusamudram project off Dhanushkodi, which is the southernmost tip of the Rameswaram island in Tamil Nadu.

The project had earlier hurt religious beliefs after it was proposed to have a sea navigation route through Rama Sethu that would affect the Ram Sethu. In 2009, the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) has stated that there was inadequate data to ascertain if the 4A alignment at Dhanushkodi could be used as an alternate route for undertaking the Sethusamudram project.

The court has given the central government six weeks to submit its report.

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