SC to hear Subramanian Swamy’s plea on Sethusamudram

New Delhi, Nov 23 (IANS) Claiming that the central government has decided to abandon the Sethusamudram shipping channel project, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy on Monday sought the Supreme Court’s permission to withdraw his petition against the project.

The apex court bench comprising Chief Justice H.L. Dattu and Justice Amitava Roy said they would hear the matter on Thursday provided all the parties agreed for the hearing.

“List it for hearing on Thursday. We will hear it provided all parties agree,” the bench said as Swamy mentioned the matter for hearing.

The Sethusamudram project has been facing stiff resistance by some environmentalist and Hindu groups as alignment number 6 in the Palk Strait to facilitate navigation between India’s east and west coasts was to pass through mythological Rama Sethu.

The alternate alignment 4A was to cut through the spit of land just east of Dhanushkodi bypassing and saving the mythical Rama Sethu. But this alternate alignment did not find favour with the experts.

The Rajender Pachauri Committee in its report had said the alternate alignment for building Sethusamudram Ship channel in the Palk Strait to facilitate navigation between India’s east and west coasts, while saving the mythical Rama Sethu, was “neither ecologically nor economically” feasible.

Pachauri had given his report after the government asked him to look into the possibility of an alternate alignment 4A for Sethusamudram channel which was to cut through the spit of land just east of Dhanushkodi bypassing and saving the mythical Rama Sethu.

Pachauri committee was set up by the central government on July 30, 2008.

Going into pros and cons of the project including rising sea level, extreme weather conditions and the possibility of oil spills, the report by Pachauri committee had said: “…it can be seen that the project, including the possibility of adopting Alignment 4A, could potentially result in ecological threat that could pose a risk to the ecosystem in the surrounding areas and, in particular, to the biosphere reserve”.

The report had further said: “It should also be emphasized that prudent adaptation strategy to deal with projected impacts of climate change should ensure that infrastructure investments are made in away that will not pose any risk to life or property.”

“Turning to the economic analysis of the project,” the report had said it was concluded that the benchmark rate of return of 12 percent is not met for a range of scenarios examined in the caste of Alignment 4A. The report has further observed that “a more realistic set of assumptions would impact viability adversely even further”.

The Pachauri Committee report also had said: “Given the doubts raised by the detailed analysis which has been carried out, it is unlikely that the public interest would be served by pursuing the project on the basis of Alignment 4A.”

The central government had not accepted the Pachauri Committee’s report, saying it had gone beyond its terms of reference.

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