The Supreme Court was on Friday told that “in the interest of the nation” the Centre has decided not to damage the ‘Ram Sethu’ bridge for the Dipak Misra initiated to facilitate navigation between India’s east and west coasts.

In an affidavit, the Union Ministry of Shipping told a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud that it has decided to explore an alternative to earlier alignment of the Sethusamudram Ship Channel project without affecting the Ram Sethu, a chain of limestone shoals off the south-eastern coast of Tamil Nadu.

“The government of India intends to explore an alternative to the earlier alignment of Sethusamudram Ship Channel project without affecting or damaging the Adam’s Bridge or Ram Sethu in the interest of the nation,” the affidavit stated.

“Considering the socio-economic disadvantages of alignment number 6, the government doesn’t want to implement the said alignment.”

The alternate alignment 4A was to cut through the spit of land just east of Dhanushkodi by-pass and thus save the mythical bridge. But this did not find favour with the experts.

Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand, appearing for the Centre, told the court that Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy’s PIL against the Sethusamudram project can now be disposed off.

Swamy had filed the PIL saying the Ram Sethu should not be touched.

Swamy moved the top court to challenge the project on the basis of religious beliefs — Ram Sethu is believed to have been built by Lord Rama’s army to cross the sea — and sought a national heritage status for it.

The Sethusamudram project has been facing stiff resistance from environmentalists and Hindu groups.