From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Ram Setu
Mains level : NA
A movie has once again generated buzz around the chain of shoals off the southeast coast of India that many believe is the Ram Setu or the bridge to Lanka mentioned in the Ramayana.
The Ram Setu
- The Ram Setu, also known as Adam’s Bridge, is a 48-km chain of limestone shoals between Rameswaram on India’s southeast coast and Mannar Island near Sri Lanka’s northwest coast.
- The structure has significance in both Hindu and Muslim mythology – while Hindus believe this is the bridge (Setu) built by Lord Ram and his army to cross to Lanka and fight Ravan.
- As per Islamic legend, Adam used this bridge to reach Adam’s Peak in Sri Lanka, where he stood on one foot for 1,000 years in repentance.
Factual details of the bridge
- Scientists believe Ram Setu is a natural structure formed due to tectonic movements and sand getting trapped in corals.
- However, over the years, evidence has been offered to claim that the bridge is man-made.
- The bridge is not entirely natural, Hindu right wing outfits argue, which proves that it was indeed built by Lord Ram.
When was the structure came into highlights?
- The Ram Setu issue snowballed into a major controversy when the Sethusamudram Project, flagged off during the UPA I government.
- The project aimed to reduce travel time between the eastern and western coasts of India, as ships would no longer have to circle Sri Lanka to travel between the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea.
- The project was perceived as an attack on Hindu sentiments.
- Various studies have been proposed on the Ram Setu, with the most recent being in 2021, when the government approved an underwater research project to ascertain its origins.
Ecological arguments against the project
- The Sethusamudram project has been opposed on environmental grounds.
- Some claims that it will harm marine life, and that dredging of the line of shoals will make India’s coast more vulnerable to tsunamis.
- In March 2018, the Centre told the Supreme Court that the Ram Setu will not be affected in the execution of the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal project.
NASA images, and other proofs
- Images of the Ram Setu clicked by NASA have been used over and over again to claim that this proves the existence of a man-made bridge.
- NASA has repeatedly clarified that it does not agree with these claims.
- Remote sensing images or photographs from orbit cannot provide direct information about the origin or age of a chain of islands.
- It certainly cannot be determined whether humans were involved in producing any of the patterns seen.