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'Ram Sethu' will not be broken for Sethusamudram project: Nitin Gadkari

India TV News Desk 14 Aug 2014, 14:54:00 PM IST
India TV News Desk
New Delhi: Government will not "break" 'Ram Sethu' for the proposed Sethusamudram shipping canal project and will make efforts to see that the navigation system is put in place without damaging it, Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari informed Lok Sabha today.

The issue of Ram Setu came up for a discussion in Lok Sabha on Thursday where the Centre assured the lawmakers that it will not be dismantled and the government will explore others alternatives suggested by various expert committees Gadkari said during Question Hour that the matter is sub judice and government has certain "alternatives" in mind and will tell the Supreme Court an option.

The Ram Setu issue has in past led to acrimonious exchanges between lawmakers and and consequent adjournment of the House whenever it was discussed.

 Ram Sethu is a continuous stretch of limestone shoals that runs from Pamban Island near Rameshwaram in South India to Mannar Island off the northern coast of Sri Lanka. Encyclopaedia Britannica says that geological evidence suggests that in the Ice Age, the stretch used to be a land connection between India and Sri Lanka.

Hindu believers hold it as the structure that Lord Ram and his army of apes and monkeys built to reach demon king Ravan's Lanka.

Janata Party chief Subramaniam Swamy filed a petition in Supreme Court asking the Apex Court to order the government to declare Ram Sethu a national monument as it was a matter of faith.

The depth of the sea along the 30-km-long stretch varies between 3 feet and 30 feet, thus making navigation by sea-worthy vessels impossible in this stretch. Today, ships bound for India's eastern coast have to circle around the entire island of Sri Lanka to reach Tuticorin, Chennai, Vizag, Paradip and other ports.

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

The project involves creating a 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.

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

Environmentalists, many of them radical left, have opposed it as they hold it would destroy and destabilise the aquatic flora and fauna of the area.