SC Asks Centre About Sethu SamudramThe government was on Tuesday asked by the Supreme Court to expeditiously convey its stand on a report of an expert body which allegedly has doubted the feasibility of the controversial Sethusamudram project. The apex court
The government was on Tuesday asked by the Supreme Court to expeditiously convey its stand on a report of an expert body which allegedly has doubted the feasibility of the controversial Sethusamudram project.
The apex court said the Centre's response to the report of the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) was necessary as it had reserved the verdict on July 30, 2008 asking the expert committee headed by environmentalist R K Pachauri to examine the feasibility of pushing the project through an alternative route instead of Rama Setu.
"You state what is the report. What would be your stand as the report is with you and you have to take some decision," a Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and justices R V Raveendran and J M Panchal said.
The Bench was hearing an application moved by Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy seeking scrapping of the controversial Sethusamudram project claiming that NIO which is the expert body of government has doubted its feasibility.
The Bench, which made it clear that it was not passing any order at this stage, said since the matter has been pending for 15 months after it reserved the verdict on the bunch of petitions challenging the execution of the project, the government has to dispose its stand. "Because you (government) are coming out with the report, the matter was kept pending for quite sometime. What he (Swamy) is saying is since the matter has been pending you have to dispose of with your stand," the Bench told Additional Solicitor General Haren Raval, who questioned Swamy's claims about the report.
The court accepted the plea of the ASG for granting some more time to respond to the application and posted the matter for further hearing on December 11 and 12 by asking him to file proper response on the issue.
The Pachauri Committee had outsourced the work of examining the feasibility of the project to NIO which had submitted its report to the government in March, Swamy said. The Bench wanted to know from Raval whether the report submitted to the government was final or not. Raval said "it is an inconclusive report and we need some more data."
He said the statement made by Swamy in the application was not accurate. "All we can say is that the data is inconclusive." However, Swamy said the government should be asked to come out with the report in the court in a time-bound manner and alleged that the entire exercise was huge wastage of tax payers money. "The project is ultimately illegal," he said, adding that the report has been prepared without carrying out the cyclonic and tectonic analysis of the region.
Swamy in the application said that NIO 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 panel 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. PTI