Rama Setu: not independent, but committed committee

Sethusamudram project protestors demand ‘independent’ reviewers

Opponents of the controversial Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project (SSCP) are now demanding a change in the committee of eminent persons, set up by the union government, to review the Rs.24 billion project.

From correspondents in Tamil Nadu, India, 20 Oct 2007 – (http://www.indiaenews.com)

Opponents of the controversial Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project (SSCP) are now demanding a change in the committee of eminent persons, set up by the union government, to review the Rs.24 billion project.

The Movement Against The Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project (MASSCP) and its associate organisation, the Coastal Action Network, ask how someone who was part of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the project could be the head of the review committee?

S. Ramachandran, vice-chancellor of Madras University, is head of the review committee and was also the head of the EIA for the project.

Another member of the review committee is S.R. Wate — a deputy director of the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), which did the EIA for the SSCP.

The review committee was constituted early October after Parliament was stalled repeatedly and the Supreme Court stayed the project on complaints from various quarters.

MASSCP and its associate organisations have also claimed that they were not being given enough time by the review committee to raise objections to the project. The committee will accept objections in writing till Oct 31.

According to a statement by the review panel, individual objections will be heard between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. from Oct 28 to Nov 6.

The pro-Hindutva group, Hindu Munnani — which has spearheaded the religious objection against cutting a barrier reef (called the Ram Sethu) to link the Palk Bay with the Gulf of Mannar as part of the canal — has also demanded that the Supreme Court set up a committee of ‘independent experts’ to go into objections to the SSCP.

Hindu Munnani leader Ramagopalan says: ‘Those in the committee now set up by the centre are the same people who have come out openly against the Ramar bridge (the mythical bridge known on maps as the Adam’s Bridge land strip).

‘What kind of justice can we expect from people who are on the rolls of the government,’ Ramagopalan asked.

(Staff Writer, © IANS)

http://www.indiaenews.com/politics/20071020/76255.htm

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