Statement of Dr. Subramanian Swamy,
June 3, 2009.
1. The Expert Group of the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) of the Ministry of Science and Technology under the Prime Minister has informed the Government and the Dr. R.K. Pachauri Committee in a Report dated March 2009, that the Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project (SSCP) as designed under the stewardship of Mr. T.R. Baalu, as Minister of Shipping, was without "any study done on the potential impact of tectonic events on the Sethusamudram Canal". It points out that "during February 1948 to January 1949, tectonic events led to the submergence of a part of Dhanushkodi town". It goes on to recommend that "an answer to this question is clearly needed to estimate the impact and viability of this (SSCP) Project itself".
2. A copy of the Expert Group Report was provided to me by an official of the PMO, but it should be made public by laying on the Table of Parliament so that all citizens can know what skullduggery took place in ramming the SSCP through for implementation by T.R. Baalu.
3. It may be recalled that the SSCP was stayed by the Supreme Court in August 2007 on my Writ Petition, and subsequently after long arguments, on July 31, 2008 the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Shri Balakrishnan directed the Government to consider an alternate route proposed by me, now designated Alignment No. 4A. This was being considered by the Pachauri Committee, which had referred the matter to the NIO for an expert opinion on feasibility of the alignments. The SSCP Alignment No.6 had required cutting through the Rama Setu, which was not acceptebale to the Supreme Court..
4. The said Report of the Expert Group of the NIO further censured the Ministry of Shipping for implementing the SSCP even as "there exists no baseline data to permit a conclusive statement to be made regarding the potential impact of a switch in alignment (i.e., so as not to damage the Rama Setu), as asked for by the Hon'ble Chief Justice of India.".
5. The Expert Group therefore recommends that "a full fledged EIA (Environment Impact Assessment) be carried out to enable an assessment of the possible impact of Alignment 4A, and indeed of Alignment 6 on the Marine Biosphere Reserve". This would take another five years.
6. Mr. T.R. Baalu can now be prosecuted under the Prevention of Corruption Act along with all other officials and Ministers who approved the SSCP in gross violation of all canons and norms of government principles. His personal family pecuniary benefits from the SSCP would also come under the scanner.
( SUBRAMANIAN SWAMY )