RAM SETHU - The Controversy

RAM SETHU - The Controversy Summary Ram Sethu is the alleged land bridge, more a causeway, connecting India to Lanka as said to have been constructed by Lord Ram and his army at the time of the Ramayana. Recent attempts to dridge a passage through it for ships his led to great controversy, diving which the then UPA Government even submitted an affidavit in Court questioning the historicity of Lord Ram. This matter is still to be satisfactorily settled and the various issues raised addressed properly. The RAM SETHU Controversy This controversy arose over the decision of the Government of India to dredge a passage through the Palk Straits, so as to avoid the necessity of ships having to go around the Island of Srilanka on their journey from the West coast of India to its East coast and vice versa - an economic decision. However the major objection raised was religious, that such dredging would cut in to the land bridge said to have been built by Lord Ram (Ram Sethu) on his way to Lanka. Let us now consider the validity of such an objection based on religious sentiment.
  1. Given that it was Lord Ram who got the Ram Sethu constructed, providing a 48 kms long land link from Dhanushkodi in India to Thalaimannar in Sri Lanka.
  2. Given also that this link is said to have been passable on foot till 1480 AD when a cyclone is reported to have submerged the Bridge, obviously as willed by Lord Ram. There is also a version of the Ramayana story which says that Lord Ram himself drew the edge of his bow at Dhanushkodi (Bows end) to sever the Land Bridge as it had served its purpose. Thus in either case it was the Lord’s decision because of which there is no bridge now, as it is all under water.
  3. Again it was obviously the Lord only who allowed Mankind to develop into intelligent beings capable of building machines to dredge the sea-bottom and using them where they recognized a valid need.
  4. Since the Sethu Samudram Project does not interfere with Lord Ram’s intention to let the sea cover the original land bridge as he has already allowed it to be submerged, to now claim in his name that the Project is objectionable would not be a valid or rightful claim. But, still a claim to protect the foundations of the said Land Bridge as an Archeological Monument can be made.
  5. Also the display of some coral stones, that float on water due to the air pockets sealed within, and claiming them as miraculous stones used by Lord Ram to build the Ramsethu, is false and misleading. Nowhere has it been written in the Ramayana that the Ramsethu was a floating bridge and in any case such a bridge would have not remained with its foundation from the sea bed. Also the existing evidence on the ground does not support any such interpretation.
  6. If Lord Ram is said to have been learn in 5114 or even 31,034 BC, then can the age of the Ram Sethu be 1.7 million years old as is also now being claimed? It could be a natural formation but archeological evidence seems to indicate some ancient construction activity and hence needs further investigation. Perhaps faith has a foundation and hence needs to be respected.
Objections, if any, should thus only be on an economic or technical basis, or with regard to the compensation to those adversely affected by the Project. Ofcourse even so, if a way can be found to execute the project without at all effecting the ‘Ramsethu’, it should be preferred, if only in acceptance of a sentiment, as an Archeological and Historic Monument. However semi – technical sounding reasons such as given below should be exposed for the fraud they are and discarded. That the dredging of the Channel will:
  1. Allow a free passage to Cyclones – Cyclones are affected only by the surface water and its temperature and the channel has nothing to do with this. Records show that more than 60 cyclones have hit this region in the past 25 years even without any channel having been dredged.
  2. Cause an increase in sea levels – The channel is under water and the present sea levels are the same on either side of the Ram Sethu bridge which has been under water since at least 1480 AD, and will continue to be so after the dredging and hence there can be no increase in sea levels except at certain times when the tides and monsoon winds may cause a small height difference.
  3. Ocean currents will show drastic changes and remove the thorium deposits from the beaches or act to channel a future Tsunami – The Sethu Samudram channel is too small to allow for such effects.
The Sethu Samudram Project is a well thought out development and economic Project and should be so recognized. Since no developmental project or even a road can be built without some sort of environmental effect, and since it is no one’s stand that there should be no development, the environmental effects should be looked at from a pragmatic and not a purely idealistic or religious or political view point. It should however be noted that the correct and initially recommended alignment( the K-line) was calling for a cutting only through the Rameshwaram Island near Kodanda Ramaswamy Temple and creating a lock there to cater for the height difference that arises between the waters of the Palk bay and that of the Gulf of Mannar due to tidal effects. This alignment would have avoided the cutting of the Adam’s bridge (Ramsethu) and thus have avoided the entire Ramsethu controversy. Hence there does seem to be some other reason for the Authorities to have taken up another alignment and then ask for increased cost for shifting the alignment again and this needs to be looked into. Perhaps even now, it would be better to go back to the earlier K-line alignment. Recognizing the power of the sentiment of the people, especially as this would also help the Project be executed in a smooth and quicker manner. - JAI HIND! -
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