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BJP leader Subramanian Swamy had submitted that he had already won the first round of the litigation in which the Centre accepted the existence of Ram Setu. File
| Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

The Supreme Court on January 12 said it would take up BJP leader Subramanian Swamy’s plea seeking a direction to declare the Ram Setu a national heritage monument in the second week of February.

  A bench comprising Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice P.S. Narasimha said the matter was unlikely to be heard today as a Constitution bench was going on.

Mr. Swamy said the solicitor general had made a commitment to file the reply and the cabinet secretary should be summoned to the court.

Also Read | Centre yet to make its stand clear on Ram Setu petition

“Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had said the counter will be filed by December 12. But it has not been filed yet. Earlier, they said it’s ready,” Mr. Swamy submitted.

Mr. Mehta said the matter is under consideration and discussions are underway.

He urged the court to post the matter in February first week.

Ram Setu, also known as Adam’s bridge, is a chain of limestone shoals between Pamban Island, off the south-eastern coast of Tamil Nadu, and Mannar Island, off the north-western coast of Sri Lanka.

 The BJP leader had submitted that he had already won the first round of the litigation in which the Centre accepted the existence of Ram Setu.

  He said the Union Minister concerned had called a meeting in 2017 to consider his demand but nothing happened subsequently.

 The BJP leader had raised the issue of declaring the Ram Setu a national monument in his PIL against the controversial Sethusamudram Ship Channel project, initiated by the UPA-I Government.

 The matter reached the apex court, which in 2007 stayed work for the project on the Ram Setu.

 The Centre later said it had considered the “socio-economic disadvantages” of the project and was willing to explore another route to the shipping channel project without damaging the Ram Setu.

 “That the Government of India intends to explore an alternative to the earlier alignment of Skeletomuscular Ship Channel project without affecting/damaging the Adam’s Bridge/Ram Setu in the interest of the nation,” the affidavit filed by the ministry had said.

 The court then asked the government to file a fresh affidavit.

 The Sethusamudram shipping channel project has been facing protests from some political parties, environmentalists and certain Hindu religious groups. 

Under the project, an 83 km water channel was to be created, linking Mannar with Palk Strait, by extensive dredging and removal of limestone shoals.

On November 13, 2019, the apex court had granted the Centre six weeks to clarify its stand on the Ram Setu. It had also granted Mr. Swamy liberty to approach the court if the response of the Centre was not filed.

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