The Supreme Court will hear in the first week of October a fresh application filed by Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy for a direction to the Centre to scrap the Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project.
A Bench comprising Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justices P. Sathasivam and B.S. Chauhan on Friday directed that the matter be listed on a mention made by Dr. Swamy about the submission of a report by the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) to the government and that the report was so disastrous for India that no one would proceed with the project.
Last year, the court reserved verdict on the petitions filed by Dr. Swamy and others and said the matter would be taken up after the R.K. Pachauri Committee submitted its report on an alternative alignment for the project, without cutting across Adam’s bridge or Ramar Sethu.
On Friday, Dr. Swamy said the committee referred the question of feasibility to the NIO and it submitted its report in March. He said he had filed an application seeking scrapping of the project in the light of the report.
The application said: “The contents of the NIO report are such [it delineates consequences so disastrous for India that no one with any sense of responsibility/conscience could proceed with the project at all] that on its basis, it would be necessary to scrap the entire project.”
According to the application, the NIO report says: “The data available in the region of interest are meagre and clearly inadequate for an assessment of the possible impact of the project. Hence, all that could be validly attempted was a simulation model to examine the consequences of a change in the alignment of the Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project.”
It adds: “The cyclone of 1964 wiped out Dhanuskodi town … the model studies reported here have not been repeated for such cyclones, but the consequences for the channel [irrespective of the alignment] will obviously be more serious. While it is likely that the damage will be more in the case of Alignment 4 A, with the stability of the spit being a serious concern, it is likely that the potential damage in all other respects is likely to be the same for both alignments.
“Given the paucity of data, it is difficult to make a conclusive statement on whether Alignment 4 A would cause more damage to the marine biota in the reserve; the impact of an oil spill in the channel on the Marine Biosphere Reserve has not been studied in the absence of data … The report recommends [that] a full fledged Environmental Impact Analysis be carried out to enable robust conclusions.”