Rama Setu: Baalu bullies PM, makes fun of Supreme Court, prejudges eyewash Committee

Rama Setu: Baalu bullies PM, makes fun of Supreme Court, prejudges eyewash Committee

What is ongoing is dahanam of every semblance of civil governance governed by the rule of law. There is a veritable breakdown of the Constitution which gets subverted day-in and day-out.

On the day of Ravana dahanam, let the people resolve on what type of Ramarajyam they want to have in the rashtram. Surely, there should be limits to mocking at the highest court of the land. Pioneer Editorial rightly calls for contempt of court notice against Baalu.


Courting trouble

The Pioneer Edit Desk

Why Baalu deserves punishment
It is a measure of the complete evaporation of the Prime Minister’s authority that senior ministers quite brazenly ignore not just Government’s decisions but also think nothing of defying the Supreme Court. In fact, if there were ever a fit case for slapping a notice of contempt of court, it would be against Union Shipping Minister TR Baalu. He chose a particularly inappropriate day, perhaps deliberately, to declare that the Sethusamudram Project, which involves ripping through the Ram Setu that is revered by millions of Indians, shall be completed before the end of 2008. Speaking on Vijaya Dashami, anniversary of Sri Ram’s victory over Ravan in Lanka, the DMK worthy even declared that the first vessel to cut through the Setu would be flagged off by Ms Sonia Gandhi in the presence of Messrs Manmohan Singh and M Karunanidhi in November next year. It is for the Supreme Court to consider whether this announcement does not amount to contempt of its order staying further progress on the controversial Sethusamudram Project. Further the Cabinet of which Mr Baalu is a powerful member, has constituted a committee to go into various aspects of this singularly cussed plan before permitting resumption of work. The panel whose composition, too, is a subject of controversy with ADMK chief Ms Jayalalithaa pointing out its biased nature, is far from completing its job. Mr Baalu’s declaration, therefore, deepens suspicions voiced by her that the hand-picked committee is certain to indulge in a command performance. Even so, discretion and decency would have suggested Mr Baalu hold his horses till the committee submits its report and Supreme Court delivers its verdict. But then it is probably naïve to expect DMK leaders to abide by qualities that evidently have no place in their psyche.

This is not the first time that the DMK has gone back on the principle of collective responsibility. In 2006, its Ministers meekly ratified disinvestment in the public sector giant NALCO in the Cabinet, only to somersault later under Left pressure. Then, following a family quarrel with Dayanidhi Maran, the DMK chief redistributed his portfolio without so much as by your leave from the Prime Minister whose prerogative in allocating responsibilities to his colleagues is the cornerstone of the Cabinet system. On the subject of Ram Setu, Mr Karunanidhi has caused acute embarrassment to the Congress by his tirades against Sri Ram. He abused the faith of countless Indians by mischievously quoting out of context phrases from sacred texts and even demanded to know from where the Maryada Purushottam acquired his engineering degree! Emboldened by his supremo’s aggression, Mr Baalu who is said to have high personal stakes in the Sethusamudram Project is evidently chafing at the restraint imposed upon his ambitions by the apex court. Obviously he regards the court order as nothing more that an irritant to the accomplishment of his objectives, regardless of the searing injury to people’s sentiment and the wanton destruction of the environment this dubious, economically unviable project will cause. Since it is pointless expecting Mr Manmohan Singh who is hopelessly susceptible to being bullied by all and sundry, to rein in a rampaging Mr Baalu, that task must be left to the Supreme Court. He must be arraigned before the court and suitably punished if he refuses to unconditionally apologise for his conduct.


Baalu’s tall claim ripped apart

Rajeev Ranjan Roy | New Delhi

Centre’s report says only 15% progress on Setu project
Union Shipping Minister TR Baalu’s claim that Sethusamudram project would be operational by November 2008 is at odds with the latest report of Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (S&PI), which says that the multi-crore project is far behind the schedule with registering only 15 per cent physical progress.

“The cumulative physical progress of the project is only 15 per cent when the last assessed in March 2007. As there has been the Supreme Court stay on further dredging since September this year, the further physical progress would not cross 25 per cent mark if we go by a liberal estimation of the work pace,” a Ministry official involved in the monitoring of mega infrastructure project said.

“The work was sanctioned in June 2005 at estimated cost of Rs 2427.40 crore. The physical progress was recorded only 15 per cent during the past two years. Many other ship projects are running behind the schedule. In all, there were 36 shipping and port projects on the monitoring of our Ministry, out of which only 13 are within cost and time schedule,” the official said.

“The Sethusamudram project envisages creation of a navigable channel of 300-meter bottom width and 12-meter deep below Chart Datum to a length of 167 kms, linking the Gulf of Mannar with the Bay of Bengal through Adam’s Bridge, Palk Bay and Palk Strait. The major works have not yet been started,” the official said.

Referring to the delay in executing other ship projects, the official said that the deepening of channel at Paradip port was sanctioned in December 2005 at estimated cost of Rs 154.84 crore. “The original date of commissioning of the project is December 2007, while the Ministry has utilised only Rs 3.64 crore till the last assessment of the project,” the official informed.

Baalu on Sunday claimed that the Sethusamudram project would be completed by November 2008, that his Ministry would achieve 80 per cent of the target just in one year, something not done in around two-years time. “It is not feasible. Till March 2007, the Ministry was able to spend only Rs 183.06 crore against the outlay of Rs 466.98 crore for the year 2006-07,” the official.

Hitting out at Baalu for making such a claim when the matter is sub judice, former Union Minister of BJP and noted lawyer Ravi Shankar Prasad said, “It is a calculated move to overreach the assurances given by the Government before the court. How can Baalu make such an announcement, as he is part of the UPA Government that has agreed to re-look into the entire project afresh?”

“It has become a fashion in the current regime to take everything for a granted, whether judiciary or Parliament to push through vested agenda, and what Baalu has said is just a grim reflection on this culture of the UPA Government. It is a conglomeration of autonomous Ministers,” Prasad added.

The Sethusamudram project is a bone of contention between the BJP and the DMK over the alignment of channel route that allegedly threatens not only the ecological balance of the area but also damages the bridge that Lord Ram is believed to have built in order to go to (Sri) Lanka.

The entire debate around the Sethusamudram project took an ugly turn when the DMK supremo and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi questioned the existence of Lord Ram itself. His observation drew flak not only from the BJP but also the Congress and Left leaders, asking him to maintain restraint and not hurt the people’s religious sentiments.


Is Ravan dahan possible without Ram: BJP to PM

Pioneer News Service | New Delhi

The BJP on Monday took potshots at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi for participating in Dussehra celebrations here and sought to know whether they believed in the existence of Ram which the Government had earlier disputed.

“What were they celebrating. If they believe in Ravan dahan (burning the effigy of Ravana) then they should believe in Ram also. How can Ravan dahan be possible if there is no Ram,” BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar sought to know from the Prime Minister and the UPA chairperson.

He said if the Prime Minister and the Congress president believed in the existence of Lord Ram and the epic Ramayana, then the UPA Government should ‘unequivocally’ announce that Ram Setu will not be destroyed as it is a matter of religious faith.

Attacking Baalu, Javadekar said he ‘deliberately’ chose Vijay Dashmi day to hurt the religious faith of millions. “The Prime Minister was burning the effigy of Ravan while his Minister was talking about destroying Ram Setu,” he added.

The BJP spokesman also trained his guns against Union Shipping Minister TR Baalu for claiming that the Sethusamudram project would be completed by next year.

“He (Baalu) has also tried to influence the committee formed by the Government and prejudge its decision and made fun of the Supreme Court, which has stopped dredging work of the Sethu project,” he added.

“The committee constituted by the Centre itself is an eyewash as it has no experts from fields like oceanology, marine archaeology, national security and history,” Javadekar alleged.


BJP ups the ante on Ram SetuSanjay Singh Tuesday, October 23, 2007  04:35 IST NEW DELHI: As the UPA and the Left tried to wriggle out the Indo-US nuclear deal, the BJP on Monday sought to again up the ante on the Ram Setu issue. It questioned the presence of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the Ravan Vadh on Vijayadashmi, if the government did not believe in Ram. The latest provocation was Union shipping minister and DMK leader TR Baalu’s statement that the project would be ready by November, 2008, and “the first ship will be flagged off by Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh in the presence of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi.”The BJP strategically echoed AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa’s attack to the DMK minister’s statement on the subject. While Jayalalithaa had restricted her present opposition to issues relating to the ecological concerns and displacement of fishermen in the area, the BJP did not forget to add Ram sentiments to the controversy. Party spokesman Prakash Javdekar condemned “the willful and outrageous statement made by Baalu about the completion of the project by blowing up the Ram Setu. This is not only a gross insult to the national sentiment but is also a deliberate attempt to hurt the faith of the entire nation. It is an exercise to prejudge and pressurise the expert committee appointed by the government to hear the pubic grievances in the matter. The committee itself is an eyewash as it has no experts in geology, marine archaeology, national security and financial analysts. It also amounts to contempt of the Supreme Court ruling, which has stayed any dredging near Ram Setu.” The court will hear the case in January.The Bajrang Dal, youth wing of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad had earlier written to Ramlila organising committees all over the country asking them not to invite Congress leaders on the occasion including Sonia Gandhi, who visits Ramlila Maidan in Delhi every year on Vijayadashmi.


DMK courts trouble again

NT Bureau | Tue, 23 Oct, 2007 , 02:32 PM .Indian shipping Minister T R Baalu seems to have developed a penchant for putting his foot straight into his mouth. After his unrestrained comments on the judiciary after the Supreme Court struck down the DMK-led bandh in Tamilnadu, Baalu has again come under some negative spotlight for his overeager announcement on the contentious Sethusamudram canal project (SSCP).Baalu, who seems to have some personal interest in getting on with the project despite the mounting opposition to it, had on 21 October announced that the SSCP would be completed by November 2008 and the first vessel through it would be flagged off by Sonia Gandhi in the presence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chief Minister M Karunanidhi.In normal circumstances, the Minister’s announcement would have been deemed regular. But the fact of the matter is that the matter is in the Supreme Court and the Central government has informed the Apex Court that it would consider executing the SSCP  through an alternative alignment so that the 30-km-long Ramar Sethu could be protected from damage.The feasibility of alternative alignments would be considered in three months, the government had told the Court during the course of arguments in a PIL filed against the project by Janata Party leader Subramaniam Swamy.But Baalu’s impetuous announcement on Sunday here runs contrary to what the Central government has assured the country’s highest court.Baalu’s unilateral and arrogant announcement has again put the Prime Minister and Central government under pressure. Already the Centre had drawn considerable flak over some uncalled for observations of  the ASI (Archaeological Survey of India) on the issue.Now Baalu’s jumping-the-gun remarks have certainly embarrassed the Central government.The Prime Minister, it is said, has been pained by this development, and that is why he became extremely emotional and agitated with the allies’ conduct during a meeting in New Delhi yesterday.Manmohan Singh, without taking names, reportedly said the attitude of the allies left him embarrassed and pained.Meanwhile, legal circles in the capital is agog with theories whether the Supreme Court will suo motu take cognisance of Baalu’s uncalled announcements which undermine the supremacy and sovereignty of the court.This is the DMK’s straight clash with the Supreme Court in the matter. Just a few weeks earlier, the Apex Court was compelled to make some strong observations against the DMK government in Tamilnadu after its (court’s) orders on annulling a strike call went unheeded by the local authorities.



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