The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to hear on March 9 a plea by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy to declare Ram Setu a national heritage monument.
In a mentioning made before Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana, Mr. Swamy said the case was pending for a long time and concerned an important issue.
The CJI acknowledged Mr. Swamy’s sense of urgency and asked whether the government had filed its response. Mr. Swamy said it had filed affidavits in the past.
The case had been similarly mentioned by Mr. Swamy in April last year before the then CJI Justice S.A. Bobde.
Justice Bobde, who was due to retire in a few days, had said the case could be taken up in due course of time by his successor and present CJI Justice Ramana.
On January 23, 2020, the court similarly said it would consider the plea after three months.
Ram Setu, also known as Adam’s Bridge, is a chain of limestone shoals between Pamban Island or Rameswaram Island, off the south-eastern coast of Tamil Nadu, and Mannar Island, off the north-western coast of Sri Lanka.
The BJP leader had earlier raised the issue of declaring Ram Setu as a national monument in his PIL plea against the controversial Sethusamudram Ship Channel project, initiated by the UPA-I government. The matter reached the Supreme Court, which in 2007 stayed the work for the project on Ram Setu.
The Centre had later said that it considered the “socio-economic disadvantages” of the project and was willing to explore another route to the shipping channel project without damaging Ram Setu.
“The Government of India intends to explore an alternative to the earlier alignment of Sethusamudram Ship Channel project without affecting/damaging Adam’s Bridge/Ram Setu in the interests of the nation,” the affidavit filed by the Ministry had said.
The Sethusamudram shipping channel project has been facing protests from some political parties, environmentalists and certain Hindu religious groups.
Under the project, a 83 km-long deep water channel was to be created, linking Mannar with Palk Strait, by extensive dredging and removal of limestone shoals.