What is RAM SETU?
Ram Setu (also called The Adam’s bridge) is the bridge that is believed to have been built by Lord Ram between India and Sri Lanka million years ago. When NASA first released the images of the bridge in 2001, it left people in awe that even after such a long time the bridge existed.
Ram Setu Project (The Sethisamudram Shipping Canal Project) :
A project named Sethisamudram Shipping Canal Project was initiated by UPA Govt. with an agenda to break the Ram Setu to create a ship channel across the Palk straits allowing the ships sailing between the eastern and western coast of India to have a clear access and straight passage rather than going around Sri Lanka. According to the project, two channels were to be created, across Ram Setu, i.e. South East of Pamban Island and the other through Palk Bay. The total length of the two channels were estimated to be around 89 kilometers.
The official website of Sethisamudram Shipping Canal Project has claimed many benefits of this project. Some of these benefits have been enlisted as follows:
- It will increase the potential for development of fishing harbors providing storage facilities and proper landing, thereby benefiting the fishermen.
- It will help bring down shipping costs.
- Fuel consumption will also be reduced as the ship will have to cover lesser distance.
- The completion of this project will also decrease the Forex payment because of the reduced transshipment on shores aboard.
- It will also work as an asset for the nation’s security and defense as the Indian Navy and Coast Guard will no more have to go around Sri Lanka and hence, will have an easier and quicker access to both the coasts of the nation.
- The completion of SSCP will also lead to port development, increase in maritime trade and generation of employment opportunities.
- Increased trade on ports will bring additional wealth of these areas.
The Controversy about Ram Setu Project(The Sethisamudram Shipping Canal Project) :
The subject became an issue of high visibility and controversy. It was raised in Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha and the Tamil Nadu Assembly, too. The agreement on the issue is quite unanimous in religious, political as well as scientific communities. The reason being that the Hindus believe this bridge was built by Lord Ram to rescue Sita who has been kidnapped by Ravana. Many scriptures and scriptural authorities have authenticated the bridge’s existence. In fact, NASA’s analysis reveal that the bridge is manmade. In fact, as per the archeological studies, the bridge’s age corresponds to the time when the first signs of human inhabitants became evident in Sri Lanka.
The Pachauri Committee Report on Ram Setu:
A committee was set up in the leadership of renowned Nobel prize winner environment scientist Dr. Rajendra Kumar Pachauri , whose finding were against the go ahead of this project. The report says that project is ecologicall and economically not viable.It can pose threats in ecosystem and sorrounding area. Also the return assumed from project are overestimated.
A diverse number of groups have raised their objection against the Sethisamudram Shipping Canal Project. According to a Public Interest Litigation submitted by Dr. S. Karlyanaraman, the SSCP project will go the same way at the Panama Canal and Suez Canal and will eventually dilute the defense system of the country rather than strengthening it.
Another concern has been raised by a world renowned tsunami expert Dr. Tad Murthy. According to him, when the next tsunami will come, the SSCP will permit the waves energy to easily pass through Palk Strait and will completely destroy Kerala and its thorium energy deposits as well. It was the presence of Ram Setu that prevented the 2004 tsunami from traveling to the nation’s western coast, thereby protecting lives of so many people.
SSCP projects also claims that it will protect the marine environment and ecology since the canal will be aligned farther away from the coral reef. However, it cannot be denied that the marine ecology will get affected to some extent since ships will start passing on waters where it has never sailed before. An advisory group of 34 members from Sri Lanka have also stated that the SSCP will lead to dire environmental consequences. They went on to express the concern that as the marine ecology will get affected, less fish will be available. This will directly impact the livelihood of countless local fishermen of both the nations.
Main concerns that have raised the controversy on the issue of SSCP are:
- The turbidity in the ocean will increase.
- Maintenance demand of the canal post monsoons, tsunami or cyclones will be humongous.
- Hindu sentiments will be hurt and India is known for considering the interests of all before making any decision.
- Some groups believe that the uniqueness of the Ram Setu and the boulders making it should be one factor why it should be considered to be preserved as a monument.