Ram Sethu in Supreme Court
VHP patron Shri Ashok Singhal warned the repeat of the same mass movement against the evil designs of the UPA government, as was carried out some years back by Hindu society when the Congress-led Union government had filed a derogatory affidavit in the Supreme Court questioning the existence of Sri Ram. Talking to mediapersons in New Delhi on February 27, Shri Singhal condemned the UPA government for discarding the recommendations of the government appointed expert committee on Ram Sethu under the chairmanship of noted environmentalist RK Pachauri.
“The Smt. Sonia Gandhi and Karuna Nidhi duo is all out to destroy the only extant historic and Dharmic heritage of Bhagwan Sri Ram. If the Government does not accept the Dr Pachauri Committee recommendations, the saint fraternity would repeat the mass movement against the evil designs of the Government and force it to accept the Dr Pachauri Committee recommendations,” Shri Singhal said in a press statement. He criticized the activisim of the central government over the Sethu Samudram Channel Project on which the Supreme Court has ordered status quo.
Shri Singhal said the Sonia Government does not accept even the existence of Ram on the ground that its people in the archaeological department do not have Bhagwan Sri Ram’s birth certificate. They gave an affidavit to this effect earlier to the Supreme Court. The Pachauri Committee and its team of experts have given their definite opinion that this project is not viable on economic and environmental yardsticks. The Committee concluded that: “Alignment 4A (proposed alternate route) and Alignment 6 (cutting through the Ram Sethu) were economically and ecologically non-feasible. Alignment 4A could potentially result in ecological threats that could pose a risk to ecosystems in the surrounding area, and in particular to the biosphere reserve.”
On both sets of alignments, the expert body was of the view that it would fail the benchmark Internal Rate of Return (IRR) of 12 per cent prescribed for such scenarios. The Committee said: “It is unlikely that public interest would be served by pursuing the project on the basis of Alignment 4A.” Giving a go-by to the expert body’s advice, the fresh affidavit of the Centre said: “The Government of India does not accept the conclusions and recommendations of the Pachauri Committee.” The Government says that they have already expended 8290 million rupees on the project and in view of the benefits of the project they are determined to re-start it. When this project has failed the economic and environmental yardsticks, the penalty of 8290 million rupees should be slapped on the Smt. Sonia Gandhi & Karuna Nidhi duo.
“It is surprising that even if the Lok Sabha elections are round the corner this Government is all out to challenge and humiliate the Hindus. Our fight will continue till the Government withdraws its affidavit. It is our clear view that the Ram Sethu be declared a National Heritage so that none would dare meddle with it in future,” Shri Singhal added.
It is to be noted that the UPA Government announced the launch of Sethusamudram Shipping Channel Project (SCCP) in 2005 to create a shipping channel between the Palk Bay and the Gulf on Mannar between India and Sri Lanka.
The project would include dredging across the Ram Setu. This bridge is one of the most important religious sites for Hindus, and plays a significant role in the Ramayana. The Supreme Court had, in 2007, restrained the UPA Government from going ahead with the project, and suggested that the Government examine an alternative route that does not dredge the Ram Setu. The shipping channel is proposed to be 30 metres wide, 12 metres deep and 167 kilometres long. Janata Party president Dr Subramanian Swamy had called for the Ram Setu to be conferred the status of national monument. He also contended that the demolition of Ram Setu would amount to a criminal offence under section 295 IPC.
The Sethusamudram project drew the ire of Hindus across the country, who see it as a disrespect to Hindu religious beliefs. Following national outrage over the project, Hindu groups formed the ‘Save Ram Sethu’ campaign in 2007 to create awareness, and to stop the Government from continuing the project. The project has also drawn widespread opposition from environmental activists, who argue that it will cause a great deal of damage to local habitation and marine life.
Besides environmental hazards, the SCCP was found to be economically unviable, as suggested by a report prepared by environmentalist RK Pachauri. The recommendation was rejected by the Government. The main opposition BJP has also warned the UPA Government against the demolition of Ram Setu, and said that it would not tolerate any tampering with the historical bridge.