The Supreme Court on Friday put on hold demolition of Ram Sethu, a mythical bridge off Rameshwaram, connecting the Talaimanar coast of Sri Lanka, for carrying out the ongoing Sethusamudram project.
"Till September 14, the alleged Ram Sethu or Adams bridge shall not be damaged in any way," a bench comprising Justices B N Agrawal and P P Naolekar said in an interim order.
However, it allowed the dredging activity for the project to continue to the extent that it did not in anyway cause any destruction to the Ram Sethu.
The Rs 2087-crore project to establish and maintain a ship canal from India's west coast to east coast without going around Sri Lanka was cleared by the Ministry of Environment and Forest.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had inaugurated it on July 2, 2005. The order was passed on urgent application moved by Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy alleging that the Centre had decided to use explosives to blow up the bridge.
Additional solicitor general Gopal Subramanium made repeated pleas that there was no urgency for passing any interim order and the court could wait till Wednesday when the Centre would file its comprehensive affidavit on the matter.
However, the bench wanted a specific assurance from the Centre that it would not carry any activity at the site, which would in any way damage the Ram Sethu till the matter was heard next week."If you (Centre) are in a position to say that the ongoing construction will not in any way damage Ram Sethu, we will consider you," the bench made this observation several times during an hour-long hearing.