Narendra Modi Government will not break ‘Ram Setu’ for Sethusamudram project

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An image of Ram Setu by NASA.
A project named Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project was initiated by UPA Government which would eventually lead to breaking of the Ram Setu to create a ship channel across the Palk Straits. This will allow the ships sailing between the eastern and western coast of India to have a straight passage rather than going around Sri Lanka.

While there have been mixed reactions to the project but the major parties have been opposing it due to many reasons.

What is Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project

• The UPA Government announced the Rs 2,427-crore Sethusamudram Shipping Channel Project (SCCP) in 2005.

• This will create a shipping channel between the Palk Bay and the Gulf on Mannar between India and Sri Lanka.

• This would provide a continuously navigable sea route in and around the Indian Peninsula.

• The project would include dredging across the Ram Setu or Adam's Bridge (as per British).

What is Ram Setu?

• As believed by Hindus, Ram Setu is the bridge built by Lord Ram's army to reach Ravan's Lanka to free his wife Sita from the demon king's captivity.

• It is said to be one of the most important religious sites for Hindus as it played a significant role in the Ramayana.

What is the controversy around this project?

• The project was raised in Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha and the Tamil Nadu Assembly, too.

• The agreement on the issue which was raised in Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha and even Tamil Nadu Assembly is quite unanimous in religious, political as well as scientific communities.

• The Hindus believe this bridge was built by Lord Ram to rescue Sita who has been kidnapped by Ravana.

• In fact, NASA's analysis also revealed that the bridge is manmade.

• Several political parties and religious organisations opposed this project as they feel it is a hurts Hindu sentiments.

Who opposing the project and why?

• Apart from historical facts, even ecological facts have been put forth to stop the project.

• Environmentalists claims that completion of this project would destroy and destabilise the flora and fauna of the in the nearby locations.

• It can pose threats in ecosystem and surrounding area.

• The marine ecology will get affected to some extent since ships will start passing on waters where it has never sailed before.

• With the marine ecology getting affected, less fish will be available which will directly impact the livelihood of local fishermen of both the nations.

• Parties like the BJP, AIADMK are against razing this sacred and historical bridge.

Who favouring the project and why?

• This will reduce sailing time for ships moving from India's western seacoast to the eastern coast.

• It has been claimed that that the successful completion of the project would cut travelling by about 350 nautical miles and will save 10 to 30 hours' sailing time.

• At present, the ships have to circumnavigate around Sri Lanka to reach Tuticorin, Chennai, Vizag, Paradip and other ports and leads to wastage of time and energy.

• Congress and its key UPA ally DMK supported this controversial project.

The Pachauri Committee Report on Ram Setu

• A committee was set up in the leadership of renowned Nobel prize winner environment scientist Rajendra Kumar Pachauri , whose finding were against the go ahead of this project.

• Pachauri's report said the project would destroy and destabilise the flora and fauna of the in the nearby locations.

The current status

Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari informed Lok Sabha on Thursday and said that the BJP-led NDA Government will not "break" 'Ram Setu' for the proposed project and will make efforts to see that the navigation system is put in place without damaging it.

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