Supreme Court to hear plea seeking to declare 'Ram Sethu' a national heritage monument
Ram Sethu, also known as Adam's Bridge, is a chain of limestone shoals that connects Pamban Island off the south-eastern coast of Tamil Nadu to Mannar Island off the northwestern coast of Sri Lanka
The Supreme Court announced on Wednesday that it would hear BJP leader Subramanian Swamy's petition seeking direction from the Centre to declare the Ram Sethu a national heritage monument.
The bench of Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justices Krishna Murari and Hima Kohli, which had agreed to hear the plea on July 26, said it couldn't because one of the judges on the bench had some health issues.
We will list it, Chief Justice N V Ramana said to Swamy. Swamy mentioned the case for urgent listing on July 13 and previously.
Ram Sethu, also known as Adam's Bridge, is a chain of limestone shoals that connects Pamban Island off the south-eastern coast of Tamil Nadu to Mannar Island off the northwestern coast of Sri Lanka.
The BJP leader claimed that he had already won the first round of litigation, in which the Centre acknowledged Ram Sethu's existence.
He claimed that the Union minister concerned called a meeting in 2017 to discuss his request, but nothing came of it.
Subramanian Swamy had raised the issue of designating the Ram Sethu as a national monument in his PIL opposing the controversial Sethusamudram Ship Channel project, started by the UPA-I government.
The case reached the Supreme Court, which halted work on the Ram Sethu project in 2007.
The Centre later stated that it had considered the project's "socioeconomic disadvantages" and was willing to explore another route to the shipping channel project that would not harm the Ram Sethu.
The affidavit filed by the ministry stated, "That the Government of India intends to explore an alternative to the earlier alignment of the Skeletomuscular Ship Channel project in the nation's interest without affecting/damaging the Adam's Bridge/Ram Sethu."
The court then ordered the government to submit a new affidavit.
Some political parties, environmentalists, and Hindu religious groups have voiced opposition to the Sethusamudram shipping channel project. The project called for extensive dredging and the removal of limestone shoals to create an 83-kilometre water channel connecting Mannar and Palk Strait.
The Supreme Court granted the Centre six weeks to clarify its position on the Ram Sethu case on November 13, 2019. It also gave Swamy the right to go to court if the Centre's response was not filed.
(With inputs from PTI)