Madras High Court admits writ petitions
On 15 May 2007, Madras High Court 2-judge bench admitted the three writ petitions filed by Hindu Munnani and Dr. Subramanian Swamy. During arguments, the court indicated that it may be necessary to appoint an Advocate-Commission to ascertain the facts related to the existence of Ramar Paalam (Rama Setu). When Dr. Swamy pointed out that there is an imminent danger to cause damage to the bridge, the court observed that within two weeks, the Government is not expected to damage the bridge, directed the issuance of notices to Govt. of India and posted the case for hearing on 29 May 2007. This is a clear direction by the Court that no unilateral action should be taken by the Government in regard to Rama Setu.
The Hindu, Date:15/05/2007 URL: http://www.thehindu.com/2007/05/15/stories/2007051513820600.htm
Swamy files PIL plea over “Rama Sethu” issue Special Correspondent
|Seeks to restrain the Centre from causing damage to the bridge|
CHENNAI: Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy has filed a public interest litigation petition in the Madras High Court to restrain the Centre from in any manner causing damage to the “Rama Sethu” while implementing the Sethusamudram Canal Project. In another petition, he prayed for a direction to the Centre to investigate the origin and history of Rama Sethu/Adam’s Bridge and consequently declare it as a monument of national importance. Relying on references in the Ramayana and a NASA study, Dr. Swamy contended that it had been established that the bridge was not a natural formation but was a “deliberately constructed bridge by placing shoal stones in a bridge formation.” He denied that `Rama Sethu’ was either imaginary or mythical, and said the Government of India and the Archaeological Survey of India had not undertaken any official study about the bridge and its origin. The Centre and its agencies were bound by Article 49 of the Constitution as well as the provisions of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act 1958 to protect from destruction of Adam’s Bridge known as `Rama Sethu’, he said, adding, “hence the decision to proceed with the project by demolishing the Sethu is violative of the provisions of the Constitution and the statute.” Maintaining that it was not his intention to stop the project, Dr. Swamy said it should be carried out without affecting the existing `Rama Sethu.’ He wanted the court to restrain the authorities from demolishing or damaging the bridge pending disposal of the petition.http://www.hindu.com/2007/05/15/stories/2007051504500600.htmCorrection In the article — Sethu: Hindu Munnani moves court — published on May 12, it was incorrectly mentioned that the Munnani was in favour of the Centre following alignment-6. In its petition, the Munnani said dredging could be done through alignment no. 4 as it was the shortest route and economically most viable.The Hindu, 12/05/2007 URL: http://www.thehindu.com/2007/05/12/stories/2007051217991000.htm Sethu: Hindu Munnani moves court Special Correspondent CHENNAI: The Hindu Munnani has moved the Madras High Court to forbear the Centre from “demolishing the Ramar Palam” for the Sethusamudram Canal Project. The petition, filed by Munnani’s founder-president Rama Gopalan, said it was not against the project. “My only concern is that under the guise of the project, the Ramar Palam, which is otherwise known as
Bridge, shall not, in any way, be damaged or tampered with or demolished.” Of the proposed 167-km length of the Sethusamudram canal, only 3 km would be the relevant portion of Ramar Palam, he said. The canal could be formed without disturbing the structure if the Centre were to follow Alignment 6, which was the shortest and economically most viable. It would not affect thorium deposit in the region. Mr. Rama Gopalan said the Centre and its authorities were bound to protect the ancient monument since it had cultural and heritage value. Claiming that the Ramar Palam connected Dhanushkodi in India to Thalai Mannar in
Sri Lanka, the petitioner said records of the Tamil Nadu Government too conceded that such a bridge existed. The matter is likely to come up for hearing on Tuesday.
May 20, 2007 Defend Rama Sethu
By Subramanian SwamyWhile the Hindu scriptures have given vivid and moving description of the construction of the Rama Sethu, it’s existence has now been confirmed by two scientific sources.
If Rama Sethu can be preserved and the SSCP implemented, no one will object. This is precisely the stand of K.T. Thomas, retired Judge of the Supreme Court who opined recently that “It is my definite opinion that Rama Sethu must not be broken”. Another retired Judge of the Supreme Court, Krishna Iyer wrote to the PM calling the SSCP “an action hostile to the nation and its swaraj”. The Dravid-ian Kazhagam leader, K. Veeramani, has recently threatened to burn the Ramayana in a public protest against “Aryan Supremacy”. Hence, his idiom is outdated. ‘Aryan’ incidentally is a word popularised by Adolf Hitler, which word has no equivalent in Sanskrit vocabulary. The closest is the word ‘arya’, which is no racial connotation. The Tamil equivalent of ‘arya’ is ‘aiya’. The linguistic root of the word is thus the same-meaning a cultured or noble person, and not a race.
Veeramani’s earlier adulation of Ravana in his anti-Brahmin tirade had to come to an embarrassing end because he discovered that the Ravana was actually a Brahmin[‘Aryan’] scholar of the Sama Veda who had meditated in Kailash to get a boon.
The Aryan-Dravidian racial divide theory, is a mischievous construct of the British Imperialists and their tutees like Romilla Thapar. Modern research and DNA analysis have now decisively debunked any such racial dichotomy in the Indian profile of ancestry. Time has come therefore to purge the theory from text books.
The Dravida Movement which includes DMK, MDMK, PMK, and DK parties, has turned it’s ire on Bhagwan Shri Ram, the King of Ayodhya, and want the Rama Sethu to be demolished because it is a symbol of “North Indian” domination. Also, the demolition would facilitate the LTTE brigand boats to move quicker from Tuticorin to Chennai on the
Palk Strait, and on international waters. At present, the Rama Sethu stands in the way. Hence their vociferous support for the Sethu Samundram Ship Canal Project [SSCP]. Hence the project in the present form must resolutely opposed.
To begin with, Shri Rama really emerged in national perception as a Maryada Purushottam divinity as distinct from a young dutiful prince of Ayodhya only after his sojourn to
South India. In her S.C.Misra Memorial Lecture, Professor Suvira Jaiswal [www.thehindu.com/2007/03/12/stories], who has become the President of the Indian History Congress recently, states that King Rama of Ayodhya was transformed into Bhagwan Shri Rama of the whole nation, i.e., as a re-incarnation of Vishnu because of the Tamil Vaishnava saints, Alwars who sang praises of the qualities of Shri Rama. She also states that Chola and Pandya Kings despite being Shaivites, built the first temples for Rama as a deity. Thus, while Raja Ram may be regarded as a ‘northerner’ from Ayodhya by the DK, nevertheless Bhagwan Shri Rama as a divine incarnation is the revelation of Tamil saints to the Hindu religion nationally. Shri Rama is a symbol of our nation oneness. Alwars and Nayanmar saints also propagated what the Dravidian Movement needs to learn fast: God is universally accessible, and grants salvation irrespective of caste to all those who worship him with complete devotion. God is not pro-any caste or where one is born. If such is the faith, who is the government to question it? As the Punjab&Haryana High Court division bench opined in 1993 in the Brahmasaravor case, even a stone in an ancient national monument if the people have faith in it.
While the Hindu scriptures have given vivid and moving description of the construction of the Rama Sethu, it’s existence has now been confirmed by two scientific sources. In the first, the present configuration of the Rama Sethu has been photographed by US National Aeronautics and Space Agency [NASA] by their satellites, and colour photos of the same published in these columns earlier. These photos establish the Sethu’s existence as a chain of shoal stones. The Department of Earth Science, of the government of India have in a report to the President of India have stated that shoal stones placement make out that they were “deliberately placed there”. That is, as if it was constructed in the manner described in the Valmiki, Kamban, and Tulsidas, saints who authored the Ramayana Epic. NASA also establishes the age of the shoal stone formation as 1, 750,000 years ago. The bridge formation by placing these stones one by one, according to the Earth Science Department is not less than 9000 years.
Such independent corroboration therefore cannot be dismissed as mere coincidence and not worthy of notice as the DMK nominee in the Union Ministry of Shipping Shri T.R. Baalu has been saying. At the very minimum it requires a full inquiry as to whether or not the said Rama Sethu is a Hindu heritage site. Millions believe it to be so, and hence the government cannot take a narrow cynical view of such faith.
The objective of the Rs. 2427 crore SSCP nevertheless could be a worthy one, and for the national good. At present cargo and passenger ships have to go around the
Sri Lanka to reach Tuticorin from Chennai or vice versa. If SSCP is implemented, the present sailing time on this route would be reduced up to 36 hours because of a shorter distance of up to 424 nautical miles. Cost saving of nearly Rs.1000 crores annually could thereby be effected, making the project cost-effective and viable financially. But the cost saved is all that much that Rama Sethu has to be demolished. Hence, if Shri Rama Sethu can be preserved and the SSCP implemented, no one will object. This is precisely the stand of K.T. Thomas, retired Judge of the Supreme Court who opined recently that “It is my definite opinion that Rama Sethu must not be broken”. Another retired Judge of the Supreme Court, Krishna Iyer wrote to the PM calling the SSCP “an action hostile to the nation and its swaraj”.
That is, while no rational opinion is against the project per se what is however sought is a feasible amendment of the SSCP, to avoid vandalising the Rama Sethu and destructing it, thereby hurting the religious sentiment of millions of Hindus. The objective of SSCP can be achieved by digging through the 15 kilometer mainland stretch between Pamban and Dhanushkodi, adjacent to the Rama Sethu thereby leaving hoary Sethu intact. This approach of seeking of an alternative was followed by the Delhi Metro when it’s underground route digging came too close to the Qutub Minar.
Moreover, retention of the Rama Sethu as it is, will ensure as it did in the past the minimisation of the damage from the Tsunami disaster when the spread of the massive displacement of sea water caused plate tectonic earthquake in Aceh reached the shores of
India. The Rama sethu acted as a wave and speed-breaker, thus saving enormous number of lives and damage to property.
I would therefore suggest that the SSCP be put on hold, and the alternative canal route be researched by a committee of experts and an amended project report be prepared. This is incidentally the opinion of a very wise Sub-Judge Mohammed Asif of theRamanathapuram Subordinate Court
. On February 23, 2007 while ruling on a petition challenging the SSCP he stated: “Imperatives of development and our commitment to protect heritage are two ends. A careful, intelligent balance should be struck between the two. Final opinion could be pronounced on issues raised by the petitioners only after subjecting their documents to thorough scrutiny with opinion of experts in the field”.
The President of India Dr. Abdul Kalam, also from Ramanathapuram, should heed the sage advice of the Sub-Judge, and thus forward the petition of 5 million signatures submitted to him on September 27, 2006 by the Hindu Munnani to the Supreme Court, and seek an opinion under Article 143 of the Constitution on the economics, environment and archeology of the project, and for protecting the Rama Setu. TheApex Court
then could set up a committee of experts to help form an opinion of the Court. That is the most amicable way to resolve the issue.
The Rama Sethu is a living miracle, and therefore the Government of India ought to approach the UNESCO to get it declared as the 28th World Heritage Site. The Tourism Ministry should also develop the area to vest it with the essential infrastructure so that pilgrims can come from far and wide. http://www.organiser.org/dynamic/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=184&page=26