Dr. Swamy seeks urgent listing of plea to declare Ram Sethu as National Heritage; SC agrees
The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to hear BJP leader Dr. Subramanian Swamy‘s plea seeking a direction to the Centre to declare the ‘Ram Sethu‘ a national heritage monument on March 9. For the past seven years, Swamy was expressing his displeasure on the delay by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Government in declaring Ram Sethu as a national heritage monument. The bench comprising Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justices A S Bopanna and Hima Kohli was told by Swamy that the plea has not come up for hearing for the last many months and that it not be deleted from the cause list.
“We will list for hearing on March 9,” the bench said. Swamy had mentioned his plea for an urgent hearing on April 8 last year as well. Before that, on January 23, 2020, the apex court had said it will consider Swamy’s plea after three months. Expressing his displeasure for the past several years, Swamy tweeted many times and spoke on many occasions that the Ministry of Culture approved file is pending with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Later Subramanian Swamy tweeted that declaring Rama Sethu, an ancient chain of limestones connecting India and Sri Lanka as a national heritage monument was in BJP’s election Manifesto of 2014.
NDA govt had said nothing of the kind. It was Gadkari as Minister who without waiting for formalities announced it in Parliament since Notice had sent to govt on my Petition by the Supreme Court. It was in the Election manifesto of 2014 so Gadkari could make the announcement..
— Subramanian Swamy (@Swamy39) February 23, 2022
The BJP leader told the apex court 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 apex court, which in 2007 had stayed work for the project on the Ram Sethu.
The Centre later said it had considered the “socioeconomic disadvantages” of the project and was willing to explore another route to the shipping channel project without damaging the Ram Sethu. Sri Lanka also objected to the UPA government’s Sethu Samudram shipping channel creation citing a series of environmental issues.
“That the Government of India intends to explore an alternative to the earlier alignment of Skeletomuscular Ship Channel project without affecting/ damaging the Adam’s Bridge/ 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.
Under the controversial project, an 83 km-long deep water channel was to be created, linking Mannar with Palk Strait, by extensive dredging and removal of limestone shoals. The apex 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 Swamy to approach the court if the response of the Centre was not filed.
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