Union Surface Transport and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday said there was no question of demolishing the Ram Sethu while implementing the Sethusamudram Shipping Channel Project and asserted it would be done without harming the environment.
“There is no question of demolishing Ram Sethu (mythical bridge built by Lord Rama to reach Lanka) while implementing Sethusamudram Shipping Channel Project,” he told reporters at Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu after inspecting the area by air in a Coast Guard aircraft and through sea by hovercraft.
Gadkari said the government was studying four or five options and its implications, including the cost, as suggested in a report.
The SSCP project envisages dredging a ship channel across Palk Straits, providing a shorter navigational route for ships from east and west coasts of the country instead of circumventing Sri Lanka, has hit a block after protests over the proposed demolition of Ram Sethu.
After the NDA Government came to power, Gadkari had asserted that Ram Sethu structure would not be demolished. The Tamil Nadu government has opposed the project on the ground that it would affect the livelihood of fishermen.
Gadkari had earlier said in Parliament that the central government would consider implementing the SSCP by choosing an alternate route. It is against this background that he inspected the Palk Straits.
Asked if the money spent on the project so far has gone waste, he said, “We will utilise the part of the project which is completed. We are trying to use part of the sea that has already been dredged for the project. Now we are trying to find out a route for the new alignment.”
Gadkari said the implementation of the project would result in India getting a continuous navigable route wihin its territorial waters. From the strategic and security point of view also, the project would be an important one, he said.