Adam's Bridge and the importance of Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project.
Adam's Bridge also known as Rama's Bridge or Rama Setu is a chain of limestone shoals, between Pamban Island, also known as Rameswaram Island, off the southeastern coast of Tamil Nadu, India, and Mannar Island, off the northwestern coast of Sri Lanka. Geological evidence suggests that this bridge is a former land connection between India and Sri Lanka.
The bridge is 18 miles (30 km) long and separates the Gulf of Mannar (southwest) from the Palk Strait (northeast). Some of the sandbanks are dry and the sea in the area is very shallow, being only 3 ft to 30 ft (1 m to 10 m) deep in places, which hinders navigation.
Hindu believers hold it as the structure that Lord Rama and his army of apes and monkeys built to reach demon king Ravana`s Lanka.
Today, ships bound for India`s eastern coast have to circle around the entire island of Sri Lanka to reach Tuticorin, Chennai, Vizag, Paradip and other ports.
Therefore, a project titled Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project was mooted by the Government of India and a feasibility study ordered in the 1990s.
Successful completion of the project would cut travelling by about 350 nautical miles and will save 10 to 30 hours` sailing time. Plans were also drawn up to develop 13 minor ports in India, and fishing harbours and other infrastructure in both India and Sri Lanka.
The project involves creating a 83-km-long deepwater channel that will link Mannar with Palk Strait by extensive dredging and removal of the limestone shoals that constitute the Ram Sethu. It will bring down shipping costs and add to India`s exchequer in the form of transit fees.
The project has been condemned and opposed by a wide spectrum of the Indian people. Hindu outfits have come down on the plans to destroy something built by Lord Rama.
Some environmentalists opposed it as they hold it would destroy and destabilise the aquatic flora and fauna of the area.
With China’s influence in Sri Lanka increasing, India needs to explore alternative shipping routes and the project becomes more attractive for that reason.