Plea Seeking ‘Ram Sethu’ As National Heritage Monument In Supreme Court On July 26

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The Supreme Court today agreed to hear on July 26 the plea of BJP leader Subramanian Swamy seeking a direction to the Centre to declare the ‘Ram Sethu’ as a national heritage monument.
Ram Sethu is a chain of limestone shoals between Pamban Island, off the south-eastern coast of Tamil Nadu, and Mannar Island, off the north-western coast of Sri Lanka.

A bench comprising Chief Justice NV Ramana and justices Krishna Murari and Hima Kohli took note of the submissions of Mr Swamy that it was an urgent and “small matter” needed to be listed for hearing.

On a lighter note, the Chief Justice told Mr Swamy that let it be listed “after my retirement”.

The Chief Justice of India then listed it for July 26.

On February 23, Mr Swamy had also mentioned the plea saying that it has not come up for hearing for the last many months and that it be not deleted from the cause list.

Mr Swamy had mentioned his plea for urgent hearing on April 8 last year as well.

On January 23, 2020, the top court had said it will consider Mr Swamy’s plea after three months.

The BJP leader had submitted that he had already won the first round of the litigation in which the Centre accepted the existence of Ram Sethu.

He further said the Union minister concerned had called a meeting in 2017 to consider his demand but nothing happened subsequently.

The BJP leader had raised the issue of declaring the Ram Sethu a national monument in his PIL against the controversial Sethusamudram Ship Channel project, initiated by the UPA-I government.

The matter reached the Supreme Court, which in 2007 had stayed work for the project on the Ram Sethu.

The Centre later said it had considered the “socio-economic disadvantages” of the project and was willing to explore another route to the shipping channel project without damaging the Ram Sethu.

“That the Government of India intends to explore an alternative to the earlier alignment of Skeletomuscular Ship Channel project without affecting/damaging the Ram Sethu in the interest of the nation,” the affidavit filed by the ministry had said.

The court had then asked the government to file a fresh affidavit.

The Sethusamudram shipping channel project has been facing protests from some political parties, environmentalists and certain Hindu religious groups. Under the project, a 83 km-long deep water channel was to be created, linking Mannar with Palk Strait, by extensive dredging and removal of limestone shoals.

The top court had on November 13, 2019 granted six weeks to the Centre to clarify its stand on the Ram Sethu. It had also granted liberty to Mr Swamy to approach the court if the response of the Centre was not filed.

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