Rameswaram: Union Surface Transport and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday said there was no question of demolishing 'Rama 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 after inspecting the area by air in a Coast Guard aircraft and through sea by hovercraft.
Gadkari said government was studying four or five options and its implications, including cost, as suggested in a report submitted by RITES, after government asked it to survey an alternate alignment and possibilities for constructing SSCP.
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 stated in Parliament that government would consider implementing SSCP by choosing an alternate route. It is against this background that he inspected Palk Straits.
Asked if the money spent on the project so far would go 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," he said.
Gadkari said 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.
The coastal movement due to SSCP would improve and develop maritime trade. Initially navigational facility will be available for less than 30,000 Dead Weight Tonnage, he said.