Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Subramanian Swamy has said he will move the Supreme Court to declare the Ram Setu a national heritage monument.

The 78-year-old had filed a PIL asking the Centre not to touch the Ram Setu for the Sethusamudram project in the Palk Strait.

On Friday, the Centre told the apex court that it would not damage the Ram Setu “in the interest of the nation”.

“I am soon moving the SC to direct our Govt to declare Ram Setu as a National Heritage Monument,” he wrote on Twitter after the Centre’s admission in the Supreme Court.

 

The Union Ministry of Shipping told a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra that an alternative to the original route will be explored for the project which aimed to reduce the distance between the eastern and the western coasts of India.

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

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

 

Ram Setu, or Adam’s Bridge, is a chain of limestone shoals off the south-eastern coast of Tamil Nadu separating Palk Strait from Gulf of Mannar. Swamy’s petition highlighted the religious significance of the Bridge, which, according to Hindus, is the bridge constructed by Lord Rama to reach Lanka.

Both environmentalists and Hindu groups have been opposing the Sethusamudram project for their respective reasons.

But Rajender Pachauri Committee, set up by the central government on 30 July 2008, said the alternate alignment for building Sethusamudram shipping channel while saving the Rama Sethu was “neither ecologically nor economically” feasible.

Pachauri had given his report after the government asked him to look into the possibility of an alternate alignment.