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'Hanuman' heads for Palk Strait

This modern ?Hanuman? is a 200-tonne barge crane brought to rescue a smaller crane that got struck in the Palk Bay, reports GC Shekhar.

india Updated: Jan 31, 2007 15:32 IST
GC Shekhar
GC Shekhar

Centuries ago, Hanuman helped Lord Ram build a bridge from Rameswaram to Sri Lanka. Today, another ‘Hanuman’ will help the Dredging Corporation of India dismantle the same bridge.

The modern day ‘Hanuman’ is a 200-tonne barge crane that has been brought in to rescue a smaller crane, ‘Thangam’, that got stuck in the waters of the Palk Bay.

Thangam, in turn, had been deployed to recover ‘Aquarius’, a cutter-sucker-dredger whose driller broke on January 20 while trying to cut through what is now called the Adams Bridge or Ramar Sethu.

Adams Bridge in Palk Straits.   

Cutting through the bridge and dredging the waters in its vicinity are all part of the Sethusamudram project. The Rs 2,427-crore project involves dredging the sea channel between south Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka so ships need not circumnavigate around the latter to reach India's eastern coast, reducing the journey by 785 kms and 30 hours.

While environmental groups and fishermen have questioned the viability of the project and its impact on the fragile marine ecology and on fishing, Hindu groups are protesting the damage being done to the Ramar Sethu.

To back up their claim and prove the authenticity of the bridge, they are flaunting a satellite picture on the NASA website.

According to Swami Omkarananda of Theni, the bridge was supported on floating sand rocks but the gods anchored the rocks to the seabed, thus creating the present chain of rocky shoals seen in the NASA image.

NASA, however, has distanced itself from any such inference, saying: “The images may be ours, but the interpretation is certainly not ours. Remote sensing images or photographs from orbit cannot provide direct information about the origin or age of a chain of islands, and certainly cannot determine whether humans were involved in producing any of the patterns seen.”

Meanwhile, D Kuupuram, local panchayat president in Ramanthapuram, has approached a civil court seeking a stay on the dredging to avoid any damage to the bridge.

“The two mishaps that have occurred within a fortnight support our belief and theory that the bridge was indeed built by Ram himself, and it deserves to be preserved as a national monument,” he says.

But a Dredging Corporation of India official said once ‘Hanuman’ retrieved the two vessels, work on the project would proceed at “double speed”.

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First Published: Jan 31, 2007 03:46 IST