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  • Prayer to the court should to stop the project, rejecting every submission made in the counter filed by respondents on May 29, 2007 and to issue a writ of mandamus directing Central Government to declare Rama Setu as an ancient monument of national importance Supreme Court on sacred objects Hon. Supreme Courts observations given vide paragraph number 7 of its judgement reported as S. Veerabadran Chettiar v. E. V. Ramaswami Naicker and others (AIR 1958 Supreme Court 1032) (as appearing on page 1035 of AIR 1958 Supreme Court) are reproduced as follows: . Any object however trivial or destitute of real value in itself if regarded as sacred by any class of persons would come within the meaning of the penal section (295 of Indian Penal Code). Nor is it absolutely necessary that the object, in order to be held sacred, should have been actually worshipped. An object may be held sacred by a class of persons without being worshipped by them. It is clear, therefore, that the courts below were rather cynical in so lightly brushing aside the religious susceptibilities of that class of persons to which the complainant claims to belong. The section has been intended to respect the religious susceptibilities of persons of different religious persuasions or creeds. Courts have got to be very circumspect in such matters, and to pay due regard to the feelings and religious emotions of different classes of persons with different beliefs, irrespective of the consideration whether or not they share those beliefs, or whether they are rational or otherwise, in the opinion of the court. In view of the principles stipulated in the Supreme Courts above-mentioned judgement, Ram Setu is a sacred object for Hindus within the meaning of section 295 of Indian Penal Code, and any action destroying, damaging or defiling the said sacred object will insult the religious feelings of Hindus under section 295 of Indian Penal Code. While matters of sacredness CANNOT be decided by science, it is noted that in a Press meet on 2 June 2007, by Minister for Science and Technology, reports of which have appeared and provided as Annexure 12, soil samples will be made available to the public for testing. Until these tests are completed, the Honble Court should restrain the respondents from carrying out any work which touches or damages Rama Setu (what the respondent claims to be Adams Bridge). The Honble Court may also direct the appointment of an Advocate Commission to be assisted by a multi- disciplinary team of experts to review the results of these tests and to report on the religious susceptibilities of the people who consider the Rama Setu a sacred pilgrimage site and a world heritage monument, exemplifying the quintessence of Bharatiya values. 1
  • PRAYER In view of the facts stated and grounds pleaded hereinbelow, the petitioners respectfully pray that this Honble Court may be pleased to grant any or all of the following prayers, each of which is made without prejudice to the others: 1) Issue a writ, order or direction in the nature of certiorari, calling for the records pertaining to the decision of the Union of India to undertake/proceed with the Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project, and quash the said decision; 2) Issue a writ, order or direction in the nature of certiorari, calling for the records pertaining to the Environmental Clearance dated 31.03.2005 granted by the Ministry of Environment and Forests to the Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project, and quash the same; 3) Issue a writ, order or direction in the nature of certiorari, calling for the records pertaining to clearance/permission granted to the Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project under the provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, and quash the same; 2
  • 4) Issue a writ, order or direction in the nature of mandamus, directing the respondents herein not to implement the Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project; 5) Issue a writ, order or direction in the nature of mandamus, directing the Central Government to declare the Ram Sethu as an ancient monument of national importance, under the provisions of the Ancient Monuments and Archeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958; 6) Pass such other and/or further order(s) as this Honble Court may deem fit in the present case. It is submitted that the project as sought to be implemented by the government cannot be allowed to continue. The petitioners are seeking reliefs from this Honble Court, interalia, on the following grounds:- GROUNDS A. Because the Project has been conceptualized without taking into account the likelihood of a Tsunami or its effects in a manner that is arbitrary and unreasonable and violates the fundamental right to equality under Article 14 and the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution. Neither the EIA report by NEERI completed in 3
  • May/August 2004 nor the DPR by L&T/Ramboll for the Project completed in February 2005 have taken into account the likelihood or effects of a Tsunami despite the massive destruction caused by the Tsunami of December 26, 2004. Prof. Tad S. Murthy, a world-renowned Tsunami expert and a former editor of Tsunami Effects Review, has pointed out that the alignment of the mid-ocean channel is such that it will funnel and amplify the wave from a Tsunami from South East Asia so as to cause massive destruction to lives and property on the Southern Kerala and Tamilnadu Coasts. B. Because neither the EIA Report nor the DPR have undertaken a comprehensive analysis of the effects of the Tsunami of December 2004 on the sensitive Gulf of Mannar and Palk Straits and Palk Bay region, in particular bathymetry (depth) surveys, sedimentation effects and effects of ocean currents. C. Because the precautionary principle has not been kept in mind when giving environmental clearances for the Project under the Environmental (Protection) Act, 1986. In Vellore Citizens' Welfare Forum v. Union of India, (1996) 5 SCC 647, at page 658, this Honble Court pointed out that Where there are threats of serious and irreversible damage, lack of scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation. Despite the fact that there is a serious likelihood of danger to the unique habitat and the ecosystem of the Gulf of Mannar from dredging and dumping of material from the ocean floor to widen the channel to 300 metres wide and 12 metres deep, the Respondents are going ahead with the Project without considering the serious environmental 4
  • degradation that may result. The endangered species in this region include the dugong (sea cow), sea horses, five species of marine turtles and whales and dolphins. There is also a unique link species between vertebrates and invertebrates called the Balano-glossus that is unique to the region. These species thrive in the endangered habitats consisting of mangrove forests and sea grasses surrounding the islands on the Southern Coast of Tamilnadu which have been declared a national park under the Wildlife (Protection) Act. UNESCO has declared the Gulf of Mannar as a biosphere reserve because it is a biodiversity hotspot and the Government of India together with the Government of Tamilnadu have confirmed this declaration of a biosphere reserve for purposes of the Wildlife (Protection) Act. Because, as a biosphere reserve declared by the Government of India and the Government of Tamilnadu, the Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve is entitled to the protections contemplated by Chapter IV of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and no permit for activities destructive of wildlife such as those inherent in the Project may be granted except in order to protect wildlife. D. Because there is considerable scientific evidence accumulated that the Rama Setu is man-made. NEERI which was mandated to examine this issue under the citing guidelines of the Ministry of Environment and Forests has simply proceeded on the basis that the Rama Setu is not man- made. Article 51A(f) of the Constitution enjoins protection of the cultural heritage of India. Therefore, it is respectfully submitted that the Archaeological Survey of India is required to determine under the Ancient Monuments Act, 1958 as to whether or not the Rama Setu is man-made. If it is man- 5
  • made, its origins certainly stretch back into antiquity more than the 100 years required under the said Act. If so, it would be fit and proper for this Honble Court to stop the project before it destroys the Rama Setu and to direct the Archaeological Survey of India to have the Rama Setu declared as an ancient monument or an archeological surv