Indian government told the apex court on Friday that "in the interest of the nation" it has decided not to damage the 'Ram Sethu' bridge for navigation of huge ships between India's east and Sri Lanka.
The Union Ministry of Shipping said that it has decided to explore an alternative to earlier alignment of the Sethusamudram Ship Channel project without affecting the Ram Sethu, a chain of limestone shoals off the south-eastern coast of Tamil Nadu.
"The government of India intends to explore an alternative to the earlier alignment of Sethusamudram Ship Channel project without affecting/damaging the Adam's Bridge/Ram Sethu in the interest of the nation," the affidavit stated. "Considering the socio-economic disadvantages of alignment number 6, the government doesn't want to implement the said alignment."
Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand, appearing for the Centre, told the court that Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy's PIL against the Sethusamudram project can now be disposed off. Swamy had filed the PIL saying the Ram Sethu should not be touched.
Swamy moved the top court to challenge the project on the basis of religious beliefs -- Ram Sethu is believed to have been built by Lord Rama's army to cross the sea -- and sought a national heritage status for it.
The Ram Sethu project hit the headlines in December when the American Science Channel rekindled the debate about the Ram Setu bridge discussing whether it is man-made or natural.
Hindu religion's theorists had held for long that the bridge was constructed by Rama and his Vanara Sena during the abduction of Sita as per the epic Ramayana. The promo that was aired by Science Channel regarding Ram Setu Bridge gathered went viral on social media and Youtube.
Science Channel owned by Discovery Communications interviewed an archeologist who said, "The rocks on top of the sand actually pre-date the sand. So there is more to the story."
This gives a hint that although sand formation was natural, the rocks that are said to be aged 70,000 years ago were placed on the bridge.
Here are some interesting facts on Rama Setu:
- According to Hindu mythology, the bridge was built by Rama and Vanara Sena in order to reach Sri Lanka as his wife Sita was abducted by Ravana. Another historical evidence said that Rama's bridge was above sea level and a few historical records stated that the pathway was walkable till 15century with an estimated depth of 3- 30ft area.
Rama Setu is also known as Adam's Bridge, Nala Setu, and Setu Banda.
Since the depth of water level along the Adam 's Bridge inside the water varies, it is not possible for the navigation of ships. They take detour to reach Sri Lanka.
Some studies of oceanography suggest that the bridge is 7000 years old and the carbon dating of beaches near Dhanushkodi and Mannar coincide with the period of Ramayana.
The Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project (SSCP) launched by the BJP government in 2002 and carried forward by the UPA government did not go well with Hindu organisations, hence forcing the government to withdraw the project.
The debate remains live whether the bridge is man-made or natural.