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    SC asks Modi govt to clarify its stand on Ram Setu within 6 weeks

    By Deepika

    The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Centre to clear its stand on the Ram Setu case within six weeks.

    Image for representation only

    The apex court gave the government six weeks' time to file an affidavit on their stance.

    It also asked the government to file an affidavit on if they want to remove the Ram Setu or protect it.

    Also known as Adam's Bridge, Ram Setu runs from Pamban Island near Rameshwaram in south India to Mannar Island off the northern coast of Sri Lanka.

    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.

    The bridge has been embroiled in controversy since 2005 after the government's Sethusamudram shipping canal project was planned. It required dredging in the region.

    A project titled Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project was mooted by the Government of India and a feasibility study ordered in the 1990s.

    In 1997, the Government decided to go ahead with the project but only finalised it in 2005. It calculated that successful completion of the project would cut travelling by about 350 nautical miles and will save 10 to 30 hours' sailing time. Plans were also drawn up to develop 13 minor ports in India, and fishing harbours and other infrastructure in both India and Sri Lanka.

    The project involves creating an 83-km-long deepwater channel that will link Mannar with Palk Strait by extensive dredging and removal of the limestone shoals that constitute the Ram Sethu.

    New Delhi thinks it will bring down shipping costs and add to India's exchequer in the form of transit fees.

    The project has been condemned and opposed by a wide spectrum of the Indian people. Religious right wing parties have come down on the plans to destroy something built by Lord Rama.

    Matters came to a head in 2007, when the Archaeological Survey of India filed an affidavit before the court that said Ram was a mythical character and Ramayana had no historical basis. The BJP used the affidavit to mount a campaign against the Congress.

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