Ministry slams Pachauri panel report on Sethu

Sep 14 2013, 03:00 IST
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SummaryIn its affidavit, Shipping Ministry claimed that environmental clearance had been granted to the project only after a careful examination.

Expressing its resolve to pursue the controversial Sethusamudram project, the Centre Friday trashed the Prime Minister-appointed R K Pachauri committee report and also snubbed the objections raised by the Tamil Nadu government.

In its affidavit, Shipping Ministry claimed that environmental clearance had been granted to the project only after a careful examination of all relevant factors and that the project would prove to be beneficial in economic terms, besides serving the public interest.

Tearing into the Pachauri panel report, it said the report exhibited a “clear disconnect” between the committee’s studies, its summary reports and conclusions.

“The summary report has provided detailed guidelines for mitigation, including after the project is constructed, fully suggesting the project will be green-lighted. Yet, inexplicably, the committee concludes that the project is not viable. Conclusions are neither derived from nor supported by detailed scientific studies conducted by them,” stated the affidavit in response to Tamil Nadu’s objections, primarily based on the panel’s report.

“Even though the data did not support blocking the project from progressing, and the evidence showed the benefits from the project, the committee arbitrarily and contrary to the findings of its own studies concluded that the project is not viable. Clearly, the recommendations of the committee is not tenable and is not supported by the scientific data and by the environmental studies commissioned by it,” claimed the government.

It added that the committee had not shown any evidence of serious lasting adverse environmental consequences as a result of the project. The Centre said the committee’s conclusion that Alignment 4A (an alternative route suggested by the court as against the original Alignment 6 which will cut through Ram Sethu) was not acceptable, was not supported by detailed studies.

It also rejected the demand by Tamil Nadu to declare the Ram Sethu/Adam’s Bridge, located southeast of Rameswaram near Pamban in Tamil Nadu, as a national monument.

“The committee of eminent persons constituted in 2007 has exhaustively studied the case for and against the project and has noted that no archaeological study has been undertaken in the Ram Sethu/Adam’s Bridge area by the Archaeological Survey of India,” it claimed.

The Sethusamudram project, worth Rs 2,087 crore, was aimed at constructing a shorter navigational route around India’s southern tip by breaching the mythological Ram Sethu. The government has so far spent Rs 766.82 crore on the project, which is stayed since 2007.

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