Sand bars at Rama Sethu not man made: NASA
Chennai, July 28: NASA has said the series of sand bars comprising the Adams Bridge off Rameswaram, where dredging was in progress under the Sethusamudram Shipping Channel Project (SSCP), was a natural formation and not man made.
This was informed today by Sethusamudram Corporation Limited (SCL) CMD and Tuticorin Port Trust Chairman N K Reghupathy at a press conference here, citing an e-mail communication from NASA to this effect.
NASA findings assume significance in the wake of several Hindu outfits and some political parties objecting to the demolition of Ramar Bridge which they believe was constructed by Hanuman and his monkey's army to help Lord Ram and others to cross over to Sri Lanka to retrieve Sita, held captive by Ravana.
Mr Reghupathy said following an e-mail sent by an official of the SSCP on July 26 asking NASA to throw some light on the satellite image on Adams Bridge and whether it was man made or not, NASA replied that the chain of small islets connecting India and Sri Lanka were real geographical features mapped for centuries.
''Chains of Islands form a variety of natural geological processes and their occurrence is not evidence of any human activity'', NASA report said.
Quoting another NASA report, Mr Reghupathy said the sand bars, better known as Tombolos, in Adam's Bridge in Palk Strait connecting Sri Lanka to India indicate a constant sediment source and a strong uni-directional or bi-directional (monsoonal) long shore current.
Mr Reghupathy said when certain political outfits created a hue and cry over NASA's picture on Adam's Bridge, the Space Agency claimed the picture to be theirs. But the interpretation (that it was man made as claimed by some groups) was not made by them. ''Satellite pictures cannot determine whether the bridge was built by man or not,'' NASA had said, denying the reports.
About the progress of the dredging works under the SSCP, Mr Reghupathy said till 0600 hrs this morning 23.16 million cubic metres had been dredged in Palk Strait and Adam's Bridge areas since the works were inaugurated on July two, 2005.
The 23.16 mcm dredging so far had neither affected the envrionment nor the fishermen, as feared in some quarters. On an average about 1.20 to 1.40 lakh cm were being dredged per day.
The Environmet Monitoring Committee (EMC) formed in 2005, had been reconstituted with Madras University Vice-Chancellor Prof S Ramachandran as its Chairman.
The Centre for Advanced Studies in Marine Biology of Parangipettai and the Sugantha Devados Marine Research Institute in Tuticorin were monitoring the dredging works at Palk Straits and Adam's Bridge.
They periodically monitored the dredging activities and submitted its report to the re-constituted EMC, the first meeting of which would be held in Madurai on July 30.
He said the dredging works in the South of Adams bridge stopped, due to monsoon activities from April, would resume from October and continue till May.
As part of creating operational facilities, the SCP was developing a service jetty at Dhanushkodi at a cost of Rs 13.3 crore at Mukuntharaya Chathiram in Dhanushkodi, besides constructing an off shore structure -- a berth-cum-viewing gallery at a cost of Rs 100 crore, the design for which was given by IIT Madras.
The SSCP also shortlisted six MNCs for setting up three off shore and two on-shore radar stations for vessel traffic management for the first time in the history of Indian port. The tenders would be opened on July 31.
Mr Reghupathy said the SCI would levy 50 per cent of total savings earned by the ship owners as fees for using the channel.