The controversy surrounding the 'Setusamudram Shipping Canal Project' has reached the Supreme Court. A monk on Monday challenged the ambitious project on the ground that it will "destroy" the 'Ramsetu' situated south east of Rameshwaram near Pamban in Tamin Nadu connecting Talaimanar Coast of Sri Lanka that acts as a barrier in stopping Tsunami.
A vacation bench of Justice Arijit Pasayat and Justice DK Jain posted the matter for hearing on May 28 along with two other petitions filed earlier on the issue. The court, however, refused to grant interim stay against the implementation of the project.
Petitioners Dandi Swami Vidyananda Bhartiji, a Secunderabad-based Dandi Monk of the Shakaracharya Order and Deeksha Mishra have contended that the project would adversely affect the environment as 'Ramsetu' was acting as a barrier against the spread of Tsunami.
The petitioner's counsel tried to emphasise the scientific aspect of the controversy along with the mythological importance and religious sentiments involved. He contended that the Tsunami aspect was not considered before and the implementation of the project may cause disastrous conditions in India and Sri Lanka.
Claiming that there was prima facie evidence that the 'Ramsetu' was manmade, the petitioners submitted that the place has religious importance as it is worshipped by millions of people, including those from China and Japan.
According to the Hindu mythology the 'setu'
(bridge) was build by Lord Rama to rescue his wife Sita from the captivity of demon king Ravana, who had abducted her.
The petition, filed through counsel Sushil Kumar Jain, sought directions for the Centre, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Geological Survey of India, Tamil Nadu Government, Tuticorin Board Trust, Setusamudram Corporation Ltd, National Environmental Engineering Research Institute and L&T Ramboll Consulting Engineers Ltd to appoint a fresh committe of geo-morphologists, sedimentologists, mineralogists, oceanographers, climatologists and tsunami experts to study and submit a report examining the viability of the project.
They also pleaded before the court to direct these authorities to make arrangements for the rehabilitation of fishermen and take steps to minimise the damage to the environment while preserving the ecological balance along with flora and fauna of the ocean.
The petitioners pointed out that over 5 lakh people could be displaced and the fishermen would also be adversely affected.
Government should declare 'Ramsetu' as a protected monument and take steps to get it declared as a world heritage.