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Lord Ram’s Bridge Issue

In the epic Ramayana, Lord Ram and his monkey army on a mission to save Sita builds a bridge, Ram Sethu, to cross into Lanka.

For thousands of years, Ram Sethu remained a Hindu myth and occasionally there were discussions on its existence, especially during the British period. The British called it the Adam’s bridge. Then one fine morning NASA came up with a picture showing a bridge like structure in Palk Strait. But NASA never claimed it was manmade. But a large section of Hindus believe it was built y Lord Ram and Vanarsena (Monkey army).

Presently, ships coming from India’s west coast have to navigate around Sri Lanka to reach India’s east coast. From the time of the British, there were discussions to build a canal to link the Palk Bay with the Gulf of Mannar between India and Sri Lanka. This will provide a continuous navigable sea route around the Indian peninsula.

The NDA government introduced the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project, which proposed to link the Palk Bay with the Gulf of Mannar between India and Sri Lanka by dredging a canal through the shallow sea.

The NDA government lost power in 2004 elections and the project was taken up by UPA government. The UPA government’s canal is through the Ram Sethu and NDA is opposing it. The Hindu groups are saying that the present alignment of the Sethusamudram Canal should be changed to avoid breaking the Ram Sethu.

Hindu groups have filed petitions in various courts and the matter has reached the Supreme Court of India. The Indian government has said there is no scientific evidence to prove the existence of Ram Sethu. But the Centre’s department of earth sciences has given an ‘opinion’ to the government that the islets are probably a result of human activity.

On September 12, 2007, the UPA government created a major storm when they in an affidavit to Supreme Court said that there is no historical proof that Lord Ram existed.

There is nothing wrong in building the canal by breaking the bridge for the welfare and progress of India. It is said in Hindu scriptures that a person can willingly sacrifice his/her life for the betterment of a family, a family for the betterment of a village and a village for the betterment of a nation.

But has the present government looked into options for building the canal without breaking Ram Sethu. Even if the Adam’s bridge is not a religious monument, is it not the responsibility of the government to protect a unique natural structure. Various environmental groups have raised serious concerns regarding the environmental effects of the project. The livelihood of the fishermen living along the coast of the proposed canal is another major concern. Then, there is the issue of the cost and will ships pay huge fees to sail through the canal.

But sadly instead of debating such serious concerns, the Ram Sethu issue in India has become a religious issue. Hindu groups – It is the bridge built by Lord Ram. UPA – No, it is not.

Written statements in Supreme Court questioning the existence of Lord Ram by the UPA government will only create more trouble.