Bridge under the Sea

The Sethusamudram controversy, as is moving forward, is seemingly getting entangled in political wrangles. The Madras High Court deemed that this bridge was man-made, while the Government of India, in an affidavit in the Supreme Court of India, said that there was no historical proof of the bridge being built by Lord Ram. The government has been trying to get the green light for the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project.

The government initially cited historical and archeological evidence to express their notion of Lord Ram being a mythological character, and therefore the whole idea of him building any bridge being a myth as well. These statements made by the government enraged the various Hindu organizations which, out of habit, took to demonstrations and agitations.

The latest in the controversy is the new statement released by the government which says that according to the Kamban Ramayana, Lord Ram himself destroyed the bridge after its completion. The sages and saints have reacted rather bitterly to this. They have been calling the politicians mindless atheists and asserting that they have no right to play with the religious sentiments of the people. According to them, it is the Valimiki Ramayana which is authentic and is revered as a religious scripture of utmost sanctity. The issue is at the apex of its controversy now, fuelling another controversy – that of belief and credibility of two epic ‘puranas’. This sensitive issue is getting aggravated uselessly and being politicised needlessly by the government and the opposition alike. Nevertheless, through a cautious approach, consensus can be reached upon.

It has been proposed that the site of Ram Setu, as it is popularly known in India, or the Adam’s Bridge, as it is known internationally, be dug up and detonated in order to let pass ships through the proposed channel which otherwise have to circumnavigate Sri Lanka to reach ports on either side of the Peninsula. In my opinion, this chaotic proposal should be put into cold storage till the time the government is able to gather substantial support for its claims. Pulling rubber beyond its elastic limit unnecessarily not only breaks it, but breaks it with a lot of force.

Not that there is any dearth of issues to be looked into, be it the nuclear deal, the rampant rise in the prices or the terror strikes. All these issues need the immediate attention of the government as well.

The process of seeking support is vital because there exist two major apprehensions regarding the implementation of the project. Global shipping requires massive ships which, even after the channel comes into existence, will have to use the earlier route around Sri Lanka accruing to their size, thus restricting the usability of the channel. This is an issue of high technical orientation and thus needs to be looked into by navigational experts. One should see the website of the project to estimate the level of preparation. Although the common man is a layman in matters like this, but the poorly structured and poorly formatted website explains quite properly.

Another hindrance is the opposition to dredging through this causeway that stems from concerns over its impact on the area’s ecology and marine wealth, potential loss of thorium deposits in the area, and increased risk of damage due to tsunamis. Some organizations are completely opposing this project on economical and environmental grounds and claim proper scientific studies were not conducted before undertaking this project.

Not too long ago, we witnessed how a series of illicit accusations were exchanged in the Parliament, and how after so much turbulence and drama the government was able to save itself from a mid-session fall. I believe firmly that our leadership for once should concentrate on issues more relevant to us and the nation, and not waste its time and energy into politically driven interests.

Aditya Sinha

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