The Tamil Nadu government on Monday informed the Supreme Court that the Sethusamudram project must be scrapped “as the project is of questionable economic value and not in [the] public interest.”
A Bench of Justices H.L. Dattu and J.S. Khehar, hearing a petition filed by Janata Party President Subramanian Swamy, posted the matter for final hearing in August. The Bench granted time to the Centre to file its reply to Tamil Nadu’s affidavit.
‘No specific reply’
Tamil Nadu, in its affidavit, pointed out that the Pachauri Committee had concluded that it was unlikely that public interest would be served if the project was implemented as per Alignment No. 4 A (an alternative route suggested by the court as against the original Alignment No. 6 which will cut through Ram Sethu.) Though the State government had accepted this report, the Centre had not submitted any specific reply to the report.
It said: “It is a travesty of justice that the careful report submitted by the expert committee is sought to be brushed aside and dismissed in a cavalier fashion without any discussion or consideration. The project ought not to have been commenced without the concurrence of the State government and without any specific management plan to mitigate the adverse impact on fisheries.”
‘Stick to original’
Referring to the Centre’s stand that the project be implemented as per the original alignment, Tamil Nadu said: “The project has a potential danger of affecting the livelihood of fishermen living in the area. The entire coastline and territorial waters of the area is also a rich trove of marine food resources.
“The project is a serious threat to the biodiversity of the region and hence needs to be looked at afresh taking into consideration the economic viability, ecological impact and sensitive religious sentiments of the people of the country.”
The State sought a direction to the Centre to accept the conclusions of Pachauri Committee report; and direct the Centre not to implement the project by adopting either Alignment No. 4 A or No. 6, considering the extreme eco-fragility of the surrounding area and the Gulf of Mannar. The project was of questionable economic value and not in the public interest.
It also sought to direct the Centre to declare Ram Sethu/Adam’s Bridge as a national monument and to restrain the Centre from undertaking any activity that would adversely affect Ram Sethu.