Saturday, January 19, 2008

Sethu is not man-made: Cabinet note


The Government is closely looking at a proposal to go ahead with the controversial Sethusamudran project, after all the ministries involved in assessing the project gave their go- ahead saying the Ram Sethu is a natural structure and not man-made. A Cabinet note in available to TIMES NOW says that the Ram Sethu was not made by any mythological person.

Significantly, the Cabinet note differs with the expert committe set up to look into the entire matter on one crucial point - The committee had said that archaelogists should be involved in the crucial dredging process, but the Cabinet note rejects this view.

The draft note to the Cabinet prepared by the Ministry of Shipping Road Transport and Highways Department - reviews the recommendations given by the Government-appointed 10-member committee of experts, as well as those given by the Ministry of Culture. It is the Ministry of Culture that had in particular said that no archaeologists would be required during the dredging process.

News of the Cabinet note comes two days after the Supreme Court gave the Government two more weeks to file the affidavit in the case.

Here are some of the crucial excerpts from this document that TIMES NOW has exclusive access to:

1. The note while defining the Ram Setu very clearly says: "It is a clear-cut natural stratigraphic of cyclic sedimentation process and not a manmade feature."

2. The note goes on to say - "There is no merit in the demand of the petitioners that the Rama Sethu should be declared as a national monument and should be brought on the World Heritage List."

3. The draft note goes on to observe that the Ministry of Culture was of the view that it may not be desirable to associate archaelogists with the project.

Lending perspective to the development, TIMES NOW's Senior Editor Srinjoy Chowdhury says in 90% of cases a note that succeeds in reaching the Cabinet is immediately cleared and that the same can be expected of this particular reccomendation.

"All ministries concerned particularly the Shipping Ministry has made it very clear that Rama Sethu is a natural bridge and there is no reason why the Sethu cannot go ahead. The minustry also swept aside the point of involving archaeologists, saying could be hoped to be gained from any excavation. This point has been put forward more strongly by the ministry than even the Expert Committee or the Culture Ministry," observed Chowdhury.

However the Cabinet note's contents will not go down well with the critics of the Sethusamudram project - chiefly the BJP and the Sangh Pariwar who hold that 'Adam's Bridge' as it has been traditionally known in the West, is actually 'Rama Sethu' - constructed by the Hindu god Rama and with links to the epic 'Ramayana'.

"Besides the project's political opponents, there are others like environmentalists who think the project is not necessary or beneficial and even harmful - they can also be expected to react strongly to the note," Chowdhury added.

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