CHENNAI: The Madras High Court on Tuesday ordered Union government to file its reply within four weeks on the contentious issue of Sethusamudram Canal Project which, when completed, would destroy the Adam's Bridge believed to have been constructed during the Ramayana period.
Chief Justice A P Shah and P Jyothimani were acting on two separate public interest litigations filed by Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy and Hindu Munnani.
After hearing the case, the judges posed three questions: One, had there been any study by Archaeological Survey of India or any other department to ascertain whether the Adam's bridge was man-made or naturally formed?
Two, could the bridge be regarded as a national monument under Archaeological Monuments Protection Act? And, three, would it be possible to implement the project without affecting the structure in dispute, by altering the project's existing route?
Interestingly, on Monday, Justice Shah, during the course of arguments, had said the bridge shouldn't be disturbed. "The bridge shouldn't be touched even if it's a natural formation. That's my personal opinion," he'd commented.
As for the NEERI’s report on the project, the First Bench said the report did not discuss whether any other route was possible in order to avoid the cutting of Adam’s Bridge. Referring to Additional Solicitor-General V.T.Gopalan’s stand that the structure was not man-made but a natural formation, the Bench said, “be that as it may. The definition in the 1958 Act it is apparent that a national monument has a very wide meaning, and included stone, river, etc.” Citing several experts’ accounts and historical evidence, the Bench said there was ample evidence to the existence of a bridge in the project area.