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Sethusamudram row: Swamy moves SC

Source: PTI
September 05, 2009 00:48 IST
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Janata Party Chief Subramanian Swamy on Friday moved the Supreme Court seeking scrapping of the controversial Sethusamudram project claiming that a government expert body has doubted its feasibility.

He said the National Institute of Oceanography which was entrusted with the task by the government-appointed R K Pachauri committee is of the view that pushing the project through an alternative route instead of Rama Setu would not make much difference on environment.

The Pachauri committee had asked NIO to examine the feasibility of the project from Dhanuskodi instead of Rama Setu which, he claimed, said there are no major differences between the two alignments on the environmental impact.

"The report concludes that the impact analysis data is glaringly insufficient and has not been properly studied. Under these circumstances, the project cannot proceed at all and should be scrapped," Swamy said in his application which was mentioned before a Bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan. The matter will come up for hearing in October.

The Supreme Court had on July 30, 2008, while reserving its verdict on the bunch of petitions challenging the execution of the project had asked the committee to examine the feasibility of carrying the scheme through alternative alignment running on land north of Dhanushkodi to avoid any damage to Rama Setu.

Swamy said the judgement was reserved long ago and sought early hearing of the application. The bench said, "I agree with you that there is too long a delay. We will list the matter for hearing."

Swamy said the report of the NIO at Dona Paula, Goa, a copy of which was given to the government in March, concluded that "the data available in the region of interest is meager."

The report, he claimed, contains observations which are in general restricted to the vicinity of Tuticorin, which is too far from Adams Bridge for the measurements useful for evaluating the project.

Swami said the report concludes that "no serious inference can be drawn from a data record of this sort and therefore we make no attempt to interprete these data".

"The available data are clearly inadequate for assessment of the possible impact of the Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project," he said in the application.

Further, he said that due to paucity of data, it is difficult to make a conclusive statement on whether alignment 4A would cause more damage to the marine biosphere in the reserve.

The impact of oil spill has also not been studied. Swamy said though five months have elapsed since the NIO report, the government has been reluctant to place it before the Supreme Court because the content of the report is such that "on its basis, it would be necessary to scrap the entire project."

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