Process to declare Ram Setu a national heritage monument underway: Centre to SC

The Central government on Thursday told the Supreme Court it was examining the issue in connection with declaring the Ram Setu a national heritage monument.

A bench, headed by Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, asked petitioner Subramanian Swamy, a former Rajya Sabha member, to make a representation to the government, if he wants.

The bench, also comprising Justice P.S. Narasimha and J.B. Pardiwala, said that Justice Narasimha will not be part of the proceedings as he had earlier appeared in the matter as counsel.

The top court noted that Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted that the process is currently underway in the Ministry of Culture. “He states that the petitioner may submit additional communication if he may so wish,” the bench said.

The bench asked the Centre to take a decision on the issue and granted Swamy the liberty to move before it again if he is not satisfied.

The two-judge bench, comprising the Chief Justice and Justice Pardiwala, disposed of Swamy’s interim application on the issue.

During the hearing, Swamy said he does not want to meet anybody. “We are in the same party; it was there in our manifesto… I will come again,” he said. Mehta said the process is underway.

Swamy informed the top court that in 2019, the then Culture Minister Prahlad Patel had called a meeting on the issue and recommended declaring the Ram Setu as a national heritage monument.

He submitted: “The issue is that they have to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’.”

On January 12, the Centre had told the Supreme Court it would file its response by February first week on a plea filed by Swamy seeking a direction to declare the Ram Setu a national heritage monument.

Swamy’s plea sought a direction to the Central government and the National Monument Authority to declare ‘Ram Setu’ as a monument of national importance. Ram Setu, which is also known as Adam’s Bridge, is a chain of limestone shoals between Pamban Island or Rameswaram Island, off the south-eastern coast of Tamil Nadu, and Mannar Island, off the north-western coast of Sri Lanka.

Swamy contended that the government has already accepted the existence of ‘Ram Setu’ and in 2017, a meeting was also convened to examine his demand, but things have not moved after that.

In April last year, a bench headed by the then Chief Justice S.A. Bobde had directed that the plea seeking National Heritage Status for Ram Setu be listed before the next Chief Justice of India.

The UPA government, in 2007, had proposed a Sethusamudram project. Under this project an 83-km-long deep-water channel was to be made by extensive dredging and removal of the limestone shoals, to link Mannar with Palk Strait. Swamy moved against this decision in the court and the government resorted to another plan to link Mannar with Palk Strait.

20230119-193006

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