Ramsetu Protection Movement Questions the credibility of Advisory committee

via RRPM Press Release published on October 6, 2007

Rameswaram Ramsetu Protection Movement  (RRPM) expresses serious concerns about the credibility and transparency in the composition and formation of the advisory committee reported to have been appointed by Govt. of India to review the Setusamudram Channel Project. RRPM which spearheads the movement to protect Rama Setu, had not been consulted before the formation of this Committee, despite the letter addressed on 30 September 2007 to the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India.


 


The reported formation and terms of reference of the committee are not in conformity with the undertakings given to the Hon’ble Supreme Court on 14 September 2007, by Shri Gopal Subramanium, Additional Solicitor General, on behalf of the respondent, Union of India: “…To re-examine the entire matter. The Government assures all concerned that all materials will be re-scrutinized with care and circumspection, including any alternative suggestions.” The Govt. further submitted that the matter may be adjourned to enable the Government to review the matter.


 


In the context of this undertaking given to the highest court of the land, it is surprising that the committee has been formed under the chairmanship of Shri S. Ramachandran, Vice Chancellor of Madras University together with other members some of whom are already members of the Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project Environmental Impact Issues Monitoring Committee. Such members owe allegiance to project authorities, and there will be a conflict of interest since they had already been associated by the Union Shipping Ministry as part of the project work. People will not have confidence in such a committee since the Chairman and members are likely to defend the work already done by them, so far, for the project. Such a committee cannot be expected to re-scrutinize the entire project with “care and circumspection”. Shri Ramachandran had reportedly issued press statements that dredging had not adversely impacted the environment, tha aquatic resources of fish have increased due to the dredging activity and that Ramasetu is not an ancient monument. Such a person being appointed as the Chairman of the proposed advisory committee does not inspire confidence that there would be a comprehensive, independent, unbiased re-examination, since the members can only be expected to repeat their earlier views biased in favor of destroying Rama Setu by implementing the chosen channel alignment.


 


The composition of the proposed advisory committee and which does not include experts from Geological Survey of India, seismology experts, ecosystem experts, oceanography experts, tsunami experts, mariners, experts in naval salvage operations, experts in law of the sea, fishermen community representatives, marine archaeology experts, defense/strategic security experts, is therefore not credible and transparent. RRPM demands that an independent commission be appointed under the direction and monitoring of the Hon’ble Supreme Court and required to submit a report to the Hon’ble Court to implement, in spirit and in letter, the Government’s undertaking given to the Hon’ble Court.









S. Kalyanaraman, Ph.D.,


National President (RRPM)


6 October 2007


S. Vedantam,


National General Secretary (RRPM)


D. Kuppuramu, Advocate,


National Secretary (RRPM)


 



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