Friday, February 1, 2008

Ambika Soni mellows down: No "definitive view" on Setu!

Outlook NEW DELHI, JAN 31 (PTI)

In a move that could put the controversial Sethusamudram project in cold storage, Culture Minister Ambika Soni today said the ASI could not give a definite view on the project without undertaking some kind of survey.

She also said the government would take into consideration various inputs, including the security concerns expressed over the project, before it takes a decision on it.

"The Archaeological Survey of India cannot give a view definitely on whether this can be declared as site of national importance or not without undertaking some kind of survey," Soni said.

Her remarks came in the context of fresh rows over the project, including security concerns expressed by the Navy chief and the Coast Guard Director General.

"These would be inputs before the Government before it takes a decision or goes ahead," Soni said.

Soni said the ASI has never undertaken any kind of survey or exploration. "So it is very difficult for us to give any opinion based on first hand knowledge," she said.

Besides, the Minister insisted that the such a survey was "not an easy job, not a quick job" and recalled that the survey at Nagarjunakunda had taken five to six years.

Noting that the Madras High Court had asked the Government to file an affidavit explaining the cultural significance of Ram Setu and also asked whether it had conducted any archaeological survey of the bridge, she made it clear that so far no one has asked the ASI to conduct such a survey.

Ms Soni, do you recall what you said in the Parliament about 10 months back? "Question to undertake any archaelogical research does not arise, as there is no such thing as Rama Setu."

Quite an improvement we shall say

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