Fear of damage to mythological Ram Sethu bridge mired project in legal battle

As Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa called for declaring the “Ram Sethu” in the Palk Straits between Indian and Sri Lanka a “national monument,” Congress president Sonia Gandhi reportedly assured a delegation of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) MPs that the government would approach the Supreme Court to revive the Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project.

The project, which was started in 2005 by the UPA-I regime, got stuck in a legal battle when some organisations approached the Supreme Court seeking that it be dropped, as the proposed canal might damage the mythological “Ram Sethu” — a link believed to have been built between India and Sri Lanka (during the Ramayan era).

According to DMK parliamentary party leader T.R. Baalu, who led the delegation to meet Ms. Gandhi in Parliament, the latter had told them that the UPA-II government would make efforts to take up the legal issues in the Supreme Court to continue the ship canal project.

The MPs recalled the desire expressed by Ms. Gandhi during the project's foundation-laying function in Madurai on July 2, 2005, that “the project work should be completed within the stipulated timeframe of three years.”

A memorandum submitted by the DMK said any weakened response, on the part of the government, to attempts by reactionary elements to sabotage the project would only expose the betrayal of hope and promise given to the State by its great leaders.

Furthermore, abandoning the Sethu project would lead to a wanton wasting of precious public money and rare national assets created so far after immense efforts made by the UPA in implementing the wishes of the State's people. The delegation wanted the government not to hamper the progress of the project and to take steps to expedite the judicial process.

The delegation also gave a copy of the memorandum to Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office V. Narayanasamy, as they could not meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in person.

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