Thursday, November 1, 2007

Statement by Dr.Subramanian Swamy before the SSCP Committee

Statement made by Dr.Subramanian Swamy before the Sethusamudram Channel Project Committee on October 31, 2007 in Chennai.

1. Since this Committee is of the Respondent Union of India in Transfer Case No. 26&27 in the Supreme Court, my statement may be taken as made to assist the Respondent to draft a revised counter-affidavit to be filed later in Court. My Writ Petition is in the nature of a public interest litigation and hence non-adversarial.

2. I have already in writing submitted on October 28th to this Committee the main points that need to be considered, before this Committee makes a recommendation to it's master, the Union of India on the content that should be the basis of a fresh counter-affidavit. These written submissions are part of, and taken by the Committee as a portion of my statement today.

3. In keeping with the public statement of the Union Law Minister, H.R. Bhardwaj that Sri Rama is as real to Hindus as Ganga and the Himalayas, and the statement in Court of the Additional Solicitor General, Mr. Gopal Subramaniam that the Union of India is open to considering alternative channel alignment that meets the aspiration of the people, I urge the Committee members here to shed their past positions on the subject, and advise the Union Shipping Ministry to drop Channel Alignment No. 6 as violative of the Constitution, the statutory provisions on public order, a gross breach of environmental norms, and a serious threat to national security. I have suggested an alternative alignment through the Mandappan area, and if this Committee considers it as not feasible for any rational reason, then the Sethusamudram Channel Project may be abandoned.

4. The current cost-benefit analysis of the project, irrespective the alignment chosen is heavily flawed and based on unacceptable, untenable, and highly conjectural data. The public statement of the Union Shipping Minister, Mr. T.R. Baalu that the internal rate of return on the project investment is in excess of 10 percent is false. Any reasonable, albeit tentative calculation will place the IRR at less than 2.75 percent. Moreover, the DPR of the project has no social costing, social auditing, or a discussion of the social discount rate for a more accurate present value calculation. Hence, it is a grossly incomplete analysis, and needs to be re-worked and drafted with greater transparency.

5. Now that it is apparent that the people of India will not brook any damage to the Rama Setu, this Committee should consider recommending to the Union government of India that the Rama Setu be declared as an ancient monument with the meaning the law passed by Parliament, develop infrastructure for it as a site for pilgrimage, and that the government approach the UNESCO to have it declared as a World Heritage Site. The Committee may also recommend to the government that the mischievous British Imperialist hangover of regarding the two Sanskrit words, "Arya" and "Dravida" as two distinct racial communities of different geographical origins, and which mischief has grossly sullied the debate on the viability of the SSCP, be notified as violative of Section 295 of the IPC, and cognisable offence.

(Subramanian Swamy)

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