Vast numbers of Hindus celebrated on Wednesday the affirmation in an American science channel that Ram Setu, an undersea bridge between the Palk Bay and the Gulf of Mannar, is indeed man-made. The promo of the show called 'Ancient Land Bridge' received huge positive response from across the globe, more so in India, much before the actual show itself got aired Wednesday evening (India time), with Union Information and Broadcasting minister Smriti Irani retweeting the video with the caption, 'Jai Shri Ram'.
The US channel supports the theory that the bridge, also known as Adam's Bridge, is man-made based on the studies on the limestone shoals formation and also the findings from the study made by the scientists of the Indiana University Northwest, University of Colorado Boulder, and Southern Oregon University. “The sand bar (sea bed) may be natural but what is sitting on top of it is not”, said the narrator in the promo, while referring to the scientific findings that the rocks on top of the sand bar are 7,000 years old whereas the sand bar is only 4,000 years old.
And that means that the rocks had been brought by someone and placed on the sand bar for making the bridge - the Ram Setu of Ramayana.
Also, the US science channel affirmed what the protagonists of the Ram Setu in India have been claiming for centuries - that the limestone rocks did not belong to that sea area but were brought from elsewhere; in other words, their firm faith that the Hanuman Sena of Vanaras had lifted those rocks across from long distances for building the Setu to Lanka for Rama to rescue Sita from Ravana.
Ram Setu was threatened by an ambitious Rs 2,427-crore project, called the Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project (SSCP) launched by the BJP government of Atal Behari Vajpayee in 2002 and carried forward with ample budgetary allocations by the successor UPA-I regime led by the Congress party to satisfy a prime demand from its key ally, the DMK, whose nominee T. R. Baalu was made the Shipping Minister and consecutively the man in charge of the mega project of mega bucks. The DMK said the 150-year dream of the Tamils should be implemented.
The UPA Government had then sought to contest the petition filed in the Supreme Court by the Rameswaram Ram Setu protection committee by arguing that there was no evidence to show that Ram Setu was a place of worship - the DMK chief Karunanidhi had then remarked that Rama was just a mythological figure. That UPA affidavit was hastily withdrawn after a storm of protests from Hindus across the country.
The project aimed at cutting short the distance navigated by the ships sailing between the ports in the west and the east coasts of the country, and vice versa. It was first conceived by Commander AD Taylor in 1860 during the British era but given up as unfeasible - though the ships those days were much smaller and there were no Ram Setu pressures then.
Several committees were appointed by the Union Government post-independence to go into the feasibility of the project and all decided against it.
Simply stated, it was unthinkable that an undersea dredging would be feasible as sea currents would constantly shift the sand and it would need millions of dollars to maintain the depth of 12 metres and width of 300 metres across the 152-km Sethusamudram shipping channel to allow the passage of ships of 32,000 DWT and below. The call of the shipping industry is even greater now as the favoured size of merchant ships is over 60,000 DWT and much closer to 1,00,000 DWT.