The centre will ask the Supreme Court to lift its interim stay order on the Rs 2,600-crore Sethusamudram canal project, but play safe on the origins of the bridge to avert a possible attack from the Sangh Parivar, or lose a coalition partner in the DMK.
The Centre has firmed up its affidavit, expected to be filed in the Supreme Court on Friday, seeking a go-ahead for the project.
The 90-page affidavit was finalised at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday. This was the CCPA’s second meeting this week on the affidavit, reflecting its cautious approach in tiding over months of intra-ministerial differences.
The affidavit is in response to a petition opposing the project since it would damage the Ram Setu, a cluster of sand formations that Hindus believe enabled Lord Ram to reach Lanka.
Tourism and Culture Minister Ambika Soni was virtually isolated on the issue but in a balancing act — that seeks to reconcile her differences with Shipping Minister T.R. Baalu of the DMK — the government has decided to tell the court that it cannot comment on whether the Ram Setu is man-made or natural. There has been no archaeological survey and therefore it was not possible to make a conclusion.
Sources said the affidavit ay bring on record the emotive and religious significance that the Ram Setu holds.
The affidavit will trace the project origin and the NDA’s role in clearing it. It will attach the experts opinion and maintain that the PILs filed in the court were mala fide in intention.