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Underwater exploration study on Ram Setu to take off in December

In 2008, the UPA government told the Supreme Court that there was no historical and scientific evidence to establish the existence of Lord Ram or the other characters of the Hindu epic Ramayana.

india Updated: Oct 01, 2017 08:33 IST
Sanjeev K Ahuja
Sanjeev K Ahuja
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Ram Setu,Dussehra,Ravan
A satellite image of where the Ram Setu is believed to be located – in the shallow straits between India and Sri Lanka where the Sethusamudram shipping canal project is being proposed.(File Photo)

An underwater archaeological study of the Ram Setu is likely to take off soon with Indian archaeological exploration experts scheduled to discuss the modalities with their Sri Lankan counterparts on the sidelines of the International Council of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) event on October 2-5 in Tanzania.

The setu runs from Pamban Island near Rameshwaram in South India to Mannar Island off the northern coast of Sri Lanka in Indian Ocean. This will be a first of its kind project as no underwater exploration has so far been done to find out whether Ram Setu or the Adam’s Bridge is a myth or artificial phenomenon.

Ram Setu was at the centre of a controversy since the Sethusamudram shipping canal project was planned by the UPA government, requiring dredging in the area. In 2008, the UPA government told the Supreme Court that there was no historical and scientific evidence to establish the existence of Lord Ram or the other characters of the Ramayana.

The Archeological Survey of India had filed the related affidavit in the apex court after three petitions challenging the government’s decision to construct the Sethusamudram Canal by dredging a portion of the Ram Setu, were shifted here from Madras high court. The Supreme Court had restrained the Centre from damaging the Ram Setu while permitting it to continue with the dredging. After the NDA government came to power, it maintained that it would respect the “feelings of the people” and wouldn’t demolish the Ram setu. The matter is presently sub-judice.

In March this year, the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) had announced to conduct an underwater exploration study on Ram Setu based on a proposal of Assam University, a central university.

“We will meet Sri Lankan authorities led by the chief of underwater archaeological exploration department during ICOMOS event in Tanzania on Oct 2-5 to discuss the project Ram Setu. We need to talk to Sri Lankan authorities as half of the 30-km stretch between Pamban Island and Mannar Island is in Sri Lankan waters and need their approval as well,” said Prof Alok Tripathi, the director, Centre for Archaeology and Museology, Department of History, Assam University, Silchar.

Tripathi clarified that the ICHR development on Ram Setu had nothing to do with the court matter.

“The work on the project is likely to start sometime in December as it rains in Tamil Nadu during October and November and it is not possible to start work then. We expect to get necessary approvals from various departments from Indian as well as Sri Lankan authorities by then,” Tripathi told HT.

Earlier, in July too, the Indian officials of International Committee on Underwater Cultural Heritage met Sri Lankan DG of Archaeology in Netherland and made presentation on underwater exploration projects including Ram Setu.

First Published: Oct 01, 2017 08:04 IST

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