Ram Setu: 3 hr nationwide protest by VHP begins

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New Delhi, Sept 12: The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) has begun its three-hour nation-wide road blockade to protest against the government"s plan to go ahead with the Sethusamudram project.

The blockade began at 8 a.m. and will end at 11.00 am.

According to reports, highways and main bridges across the country are blocked.

The 560-million dollar Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project will dredge a channel in a narrow strip of sea between India and Sri Lanka, reducing distances and cutting costs for freight traffic.

Hindu groups have called on the government to stop the project, saying it will demolish a bridge linking India and Sri Lanka, believed to have been built by Lord Ram.

According to the Central Government, research has shown that the bridge was a series of sand shoals created by sedimentation.

Dredging for the project began in 2005 and the channel -- 12 metres deep, 300 metres wide and almost 90 km long -- will provide a crucial link between the Palk Bay and the Gulf of Mannar.

When the project is completed, ships sailing between India's western and eastern coasts will no longer have to go around Sri Lanka, and are expected to save up to 36 hours of sailing time.

The project has also sparked protests by other groups including conservationists and local fishermen, who say the dredging will mean dumping sediment in deeper water further out to sea.

This and increased freight traffic will harm marine life and threaten the livelihood of thousands of fishermen in both countries, opponents say.


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