The 26 km, Rs 2,800 crore Sethusamudram canal project has become a political hot potato. Cleared by the Atal Behari Vajpayee government, the BJP and its front organisations are opposing the destruction of the “Ram Sethu”, a bridge they believe was built by Lord Ram‘s monkey brigade to reach Lanka to save Sita from Ravana. BJP claims carbon-dating by NASA proves the bridge is 1.7 million years old. But the company building the bridge, using the same NASA data, shows that there is no tangible proof of the claim of a man-made structure in the area.
Opponents of the project want the canal re-aligned. Supporters of the project, including the DMK government of M. Karunanidhi, say religious sentiments are being whipped up to stall the project which could prove to be a boon in helping shifts pass between the Gulf of Mannar and Palk Bay. The Madras High Court has refused to stay the project but has asked the Centre if any archaelogical study was undertaken to establish the veracity of the bridge or lack thereof. The project chief has been mysteriously transferred.
Questions: Was there a Ram Sethu or is it a figment of the mythological imagination? Is the BJP indulging in doublespeak after having okayed the project? Is the opposition to the project purely political? Should religious sentiments be taken into consideration while taking up projects of this nature?
Related links: Ram or Sethu?