Ram Sethu for dummies
Update: It seems like no scientific archeological study was ever done in the area. How bizarre ?
Some people who read my previous article raised some basic questions about the project.
As a person who is deeply familiar with the geography of the Rameswaram island and its surroundings – let me attempt to answer some basic questions. I have provided links for more advanced references.
Q 1. Is the Ram Sethu an underwater bridge connecting India and Sri Lanka ?
Yes. It connects to Sri Lanka at a place called Talaimannar (not Jaffna – Yazhpaanam) The bridge is to the north of the port of Tuticorin. This means large ships between Chennai and Tuticorin (within the same state of TN) have to circumnavigate Sri Lanka. Small ships have no problem, see below.
Q 2. Is the Ram Sethu unbroken ? Is there no gap, say in between where we can dredge ?
No, there is no gap. Remember, you can only dredge in Indian territorial waters.
Q 3. Arent you being crazy, Mr Reality Check ? You say you support the Sethusamudram project, you also say the bridge must not be touched, you also say no natural gaps exist in the bridge. How is it possible ?
First, a geography lesson.
The Indian mainland ends at a place called Mandapam on the rocky waters of the Palk Strait. Proceeding in a south easterly direction over the Palk Strait for 2.5 kilometers you will reach the island of Rameswaram famous for its Ramanathaswamy temple. The 2.5 km Palk Strait is bridged by both rail and road via the Pamban bridge. This bridge already has a span in it that allows limited ships of moderate draft to pass through.
Once inside Rameswaram island you can proceed further in a south easterly direction for about 30 kms over a sandy causeway to a place called Danushkodi. The name Danushkodi refers to Rama’s bow. It was from here that Rama’s army constructed the bridge to Talaimannar according to Hindu faith.
The Ram Sethu bridge starts immediately from the head-end of Danushkodi and until it terminates at the other end in Talaimannar, it is unbroken in its entire stretch for the next 48 kms. There are no natural gaps which can be taken advantage of.
So, the Ram Sethu is not from India to Talaimannar, but from Danushkodi to Talaimannar. You can build the Sethusamudram canal without touching the Ram Sethu via the Palk Strait route (see blue line in the map above).
There are other very serious objections to the proposed alignment via the Ram Sethu. They range from economics (toll cost of navigating channel vs circumnavigating SL), logistics (international vessels will anyway take a wide sweep around SL on the high seas), tonnage (large vessels such as oil tankers cannot pass), maintenance (shifting sand banks will threaten any canal). The most important being the ecological impact, the millions of cubic metres of dredged sand and broken coral will have to be dumped in Indian territorial waters only. These will seriously threaten the rich fishing industry in that belt.
I lack further expertise in that area, but here is a rich collection of links for further reading.
1. Presentation about the Sethu project in its current form.
2. Geological questions (megalithic portal UK)
3. The most comprehensive and rational articles on the subject.
Some people have complained that this post is too simplistic. That is probably just because it is for “dummies”. The alternate route suggested here may have ecological problems. If you are asking these deeper questions, then I am happy, this post has worked !