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Unbridged gaps

Unbridged gaps

Author: Editorial
Publication: News Today
Date: July 31, 2008
URL: http://newstodaynet.com/newsindex.php?id=9619%20&%20section=13

The government of India has abided by the direction of the Supreme Court to consider an alternative alignment for the implementation of the Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project and has constituted a six-member committee headed by Dr R K Pachauri to study the feasibility of an 'another line'.

The six-member committee includes Dr. Subramanyam Kathiroli from NIOT, Rear Admiral B.R.Rao, Chief Hydrographer P.M.Tajale from GSI, Dr.T.Chakrabarthi from NEERI and S.R.Shetye from NIO. Incidentally, this is the seventh committee constituted after independence - first one being A Ramasamy Mudaliyar Committee in 1956 - and fifteenth since 1860 when the eight committees of pre-independence period are considered.

As the present panel members seem to be of high credibility and as they are from the relevant areas of operation, an unbiased study and recommendation can be expected from them.

The problem with the previous committee of 'eminent' persons set up by the DMK was that it never had experts from the requisite areas and it conducted a farcical 'public hearing' in 'closed doors' and laid down its recommendations in a manner that made allegations of 'bias' seem credible.

It was also quite obvious that the committee was constituted with predetermined notion and naturally ended up as a failure after spending a few crores of taxpayers' money.

The constitution of the present committee comes after series of bungling by the central government.

First, it refused to abide by the direction given by the Madras High Court in June 2007; secondly it filed an affidavit in Supreme Court in September 2007 denying Bhagwan Rama as an entity and questioning the historicity of Ramayana and existence of Rama Sethu; thirdly, it withdrew the affidavit and accepted the truth of Rama; fourthly it constituted a committee of 'eminent' persons without credible experts; fifthly it said that there is no bridge as such and hence there is no need for an archaeological survey.

And then, wrongly quoted Kamba Ramayana on the criminal advise of DMK, it said Rama Himself had destroyed his bridge!

After realising that it made a blunder on Kamba Ramayana and that it cannot touch Rama Sethu in future, it has decided to buy some more time to avoid the undue pressure exerted by the DMK and constituted the present panel of experts.

Even while doing so, just to satisfy the atheistic ego of the DMK, it has said in the Supreme Court that the idea of declaring Rama Sethu as a National Heritage Monument is ruled out.

This is going to be a 'monumental' mistake topping all the previous mistakes. Having decided to go for an alternative alignment, it would have made better sense for the government to declare Rama Sethu as a heritage monument and unfortunately it has lost a golden opportunity to soothe the hurt feelings of Hindus.

Bhagwan Rama, who permanently resides in the hearts of millions of Hindus, is worshipped by them day in and day out and Ramayana is a part and parcel of the culture of this great country.

When the whole country stands as a testimony for Rama's avatar having clear historical evidences in each and every place he has travelled during his life-time, is it not the responsibility of the government to declare Rama Sethu, an engineering marvel, as a heritage monument? It is very sad that the main opposition party, which has grown and is still growing in the name of Rama, has still not come out with the statement that it would declare Rama Sethu as a monument if it comes back to power.

It is commendable that the Pachauri committee would be studying the project from all angles keeping in view the technical aspects, economical viability, cost benefit analysis, social and cultural impact, environmental impact, law and order aspect and any other related matters like security and naval defence.

Notably, the government has not given any time frame to the committee for submission of report. In this context it can be recalled that the previous committee of 'eminent' persons constituted by the DMK had categorically concluded that the other five alignments are totally unviable for the project.

So, it will be interesting as to how the present committee is going to view the other alignments.

The present development in the controversial issue points to the fact that the project stands as good as scrapped! It is good for the government and the people; it is good for the religion and culture; it is good for the fishermen and their families; it is good for the environment and thousands of marine organisms and rare species; it is good for nation's security and mariners' safety and it is good for the taxpayers and the government's treasury! It is bad only for dredgers and bridge-busters and they deserve it!

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