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Friday, 4 October 2013

Sethusamudram


Sethusamudram



Introduction

The above image are the satellite photographs of the Palk Straight – The ocean passage between South India and Sri lanka. The ocean floor here is shallow and is not navigable and so no ships navigate via this region. All ships which want to move from western world to the eastern world or vice versa via the Indian ocean currently take a longer route of going around the country of srilanka. Even the ships of India which have to move between the western and Indian coastlines of India take this longer route of going around Srilanka.
The Project
Now, the government of India has come up with a project (in fact it is a project which was suggested long back during the British age itself, but has reached the definitive stages of implementation only now), called the SethuSamudram Project.
The intentions of the project are good. To remove a silt of about 48 million cubic meters in the palk straight at a cost of Rs 2,427 Crore (24,270 million), and create a channel 167 km long to make the sea in this region navigable. This will shorten the distance between the east and west coasts by about 780 km for the ships! They no longer will have to take the longer route around Srilanka. This will also be a source of greater financial income to India as all international shipment now can pass through the Indian seas in this region with the benefit of this shorter distance, saving about 30 hours of time!
This new canal construction is also said to increase the Naval security of India due to the obvious reasons of making the connections between western and eastern naval sectors of India shorter and easier and more importantly independent of dependency on Srilanka!
Sethusamudram Canal History & Facts

Hindus believe that the stretch of limestone shoals between Dhanushkodi near Rameshwaram in Southern India and Mannar in Northwest Sri Lanka are the remains of an ancient bridge built by Lord Rama, as described in the holy epic, Ramayana.
Recent NASA satellite images show clear pictures of a broken bridge under the ocean floor. The heritage of the bridge and the story of Lord Rama are extremely sacred to Hindus.
The ocean floor between India and Sri Lanka near the Mannar coast is very shallow and is not navigable. It does not allow ships to pass. This means that. India does not have a continuous navigational channel linking the east and west coasts. Ships coming from India's west and heading to Bangladesh or Indian ports on the east coast have to go around Sri Lanka because the waterway in the sea dividing the two countries is shallow.
Therefore, the Government of India has proposed the dredging of the sea to create a shipping canal to save up to 780 km of sailing distance and 30 hours of sailing time for ships plying between the east and west coasts of India.
Indian officials say the canal, which is called the Sethusamudram project, will also boost the national economy besides speeding up the movement of Indian Navy and Coast Guard vessels as well.
Hindu groups say this may be true but such economic progress cannot be at the expense of Ram Sethu, as they refer to Adam's Bridge, located at the southern end of the Sethusamudram project.
This is where an estimated 48 million cubic metres of silt will be removed over the next two years.
The construction of the canal immediately led to wide protests in India by Hindu leaders. Several holy men have gathered together to launch a campaign of protest.
In March 2007, over ten Hindu umbrella organizations from around the world joined together to launch the Save Ram Sethu Campaign (Ram SethuBachaoAndolan) to increase the profile of the issue amongst the international communities.
The campaign hopes to convince the Government of India to reconsider the construction of the canal as it will hurt religious sentiments of millions of Hindus and also pose a great risk to the environment of the region and the livelihood of local fishermen.
Ancient India

Now a bit about ancient India. The ancient Indian text Ramayana talks about a bridge being built in the seas of Palk Straight by the then king Rama of North India who wanted to take an army to the kingdom of Srilanka. This bridge is said to have been built from Dhanushkodi, a place in South Indian coastal region near the sea facing Srilanka, to Mannar in Srilanka.

Satellite Photographs

The satellite photographs at the top of this article are of the Palk Straight. Clearly visible to a naked human eye can be seen a line connecting the main land of India to Srilanka in these photographs. This is exactly at the same place where Ramayana talks about a bridge being constructed by Rama and his army to cross over into Srilanka. It is visible from Dhanushkodi of India to Mannar in Northwest Srilanka and is about 48 kilometers long.
Controversy
The Hindus call this bridge Ram Sethu and is a sacred structure for them since it is mentioned in their ancient texts. The proposed SethuSamudram project is going to destroy this structure. It is a different question as to whether this is a man made or god made or natural structure. (Well, for a hindu everything natural is God made!). The issue here is that this project in its current proposed format is definitely going to destroy this structure. The controversy is that do we need to have economic progress at the cost of our cultural heritage? In this materialistic world some people might look at everything in terms of money. But the spiritual center of the world, the Indian masses don’t look at it that way.
Let me make it clear, it is totally a different question as to whether this bridge is man made or is it a natural formation, the answer for that question has to come from a thorough unbiased scientific investigation by a committee of national and international experts on the subject. The need to save this structure is that it has been mentioned in the ancient texts and hence definitely is of a cultural value and has historical significance.
Man made or Natural?

Before going deep into any related scientific evidence of whether it is man made or natural, let us see what common sense says. Can a natural formation so precise as 100 m occur all across the way from Indian to srilankan coast line? Is there any other such geological landmark on this planet? How did this happen? What is the scientific evidence for a natural formation like this?
Or if it is not natural, then what is the scientific evidence that this is a man made construction? If it is mad made, then the material which this bridge is made up of should not have its origin in the seas.
Here is what the Department of Earth Science of the Government of India has to say about it
The Geological logging of the bore holes drilled in the inter tidal areas of Ram Sethu reveals very interesting details. In all the bore holes the top portion is seen to be occupied by recent marine sands. In almost of all the boreholes between 4.5 and 7.5m the borehole intersected hard formations, which have been found to be calcareous sand stones and corals. It is to be pointed out here that Corals are comparatively less dense, compact and somewhat easy to carry.
The Corals normally grow atop compact to hard formations for the purpose of stability, and as the sea level rises, the Coral colony grows up vertically to maintain water depth of 1 to 2 m, which is essential for their survival. In the case of Ram Sethu area, we observe that the Coral formations hardly occur 1 to 2.5m in length and resting on loose marine sands. Most of these coral rock pieces are seem to be rounded pebbles of corals. These things appear to point these coral rock pieces and pebbles have been transported and placed in these areas. Since the calcareous sand stones and Corals are less dense than normal hard rock and quite compact, probably these were used by the ancients to form a connecting link to Sri Lanka, on the higher elevations of the Ram Sethu ridge and this is analogous to modern day causeway.
In support of these observations there are many archaeological and geoarchaeological evidences on the south east coast of India around Rameswaram, Tuticorin and the western coast of Sri Lanka. There are raised Teri formations that supported a rich assemblage of mesolithicmicrolithic tools indicating the presence of strong human habitation and activity in these areas as early as 6000 to 7000 years BCE and as recent as 2000 years BCE. On Sri Lanka side there are indications of human habitation extending to late Pleistocene (about 11,000 BCE) based on bone and fossils of human and animal form. All these point to a flourishing human activity on both side of Adams Bridge and probably when the sea levels were just right the link between India and Sri Lanka could have been established.
Arguments
The very first argument in favor of a man made bridge is the ancient references to this structure in the ancient texts of India.
Then comes the nature of the structure. Can natural accumulation be so precise? Look at the photograph again. It defies common sense to say it is natural unless and until one is extremely biased for whatever reasons OR unless one provides a very concrete scientific evidence of how it occurred. Not just use some pseudo-scientific language like It is natural sand and coral formation. From where, why so precise? Did the corals decide to build a bridge?
Some people argue that it is not a real bridge. Well, yes, nobody is saying that Rama had built a concrete bridge like we build today, a real motor-able bridge with supporting pillars etc. Even ancients texts say that this bridge was built using sand and rock boulders! Rocks from the mountains were transported to the construction site using machines says the original text valmikiramayana
Hastimaatraanmahaakaayaahpaashaanaamshachamahaabalaahparvataamshchasamutpaatyayantraihparivahanti cha 2-22-58, Valmiki Ramayana
which means Vaanara with huge bodies and mighty strength uprooted the elephant sized rocks and mountains and transported them using machinery!
Let me be frank. Till I saw this photograph and realized that this was a shallow sea between India and Srilanka where Rama is said to have built the bridge, I was thinking that the bridge is actually a myth. My thought was how can once construct a bridge across a sea by a few thousand people throwing sand and rock boulders into the sea water?
But now on looking at the photograph and realizing that it is a shallow sea and not a narrow straight, it doesn’t really seem like an impossible task to do one such construction. Note that as per the ancient texts, the bridge was said to have been built not as a permanent structure to connect the two lands, but only to serve one single two-way journey for an invading army from India into Srilanka.
Some people say that the ancient Indian texts are nothing but a mythology. Well, anybody who says this I must say, either
  • has not read these ancient Indian texts (look at some of the scientific explanations in these ancient texts in other parts of this blog) OR
  • is totally prejudiced in believing what he believes than in what it is OR
  • has no general knowledge and is not aware about the recent archaeological findings. For instance, earlier they thought the story in Mahabharatha of Dwaraka being flooded by the seas after the war was a myth, until the ancient city of Dwaraka was found submerged in the seas of Gujarat. They used to say that the river Saraswathi mentioned in these ancient texts was a myth, unless dried up river bed of this river was discovered in North India.
My question is what if we today destroy this Ram Sethu, the bridge, and then tomorrow find a proof that this was indeed a man made construction? Will we get back the bridge, by paying all the money that India has earned by destroying this bridge? Can the lost heritage be brought back?
According to one Oceanographer, the construction of the SethuSamudram Channel may also increase the risk of tsunamis on the coasts of South India as this shallow water has been protecting the calm sea on this side of the Gulf of Mannar from the wild sea of Bay of Bengal! See this article .
Another issue is that the world’s 30% Thorium reserves are found in the coasts of Kerala. Exposing the Kerala coastline to the rough sea will wash away most of this Thorium into the sea! The fast breeder Thorium based nuclear reactors that Indian scientists are trying to build are based on the fact that we have these large deposits of Thorium which we can use to remove our dependency on other countries like USA and Austrialia for nuclear fuel like Uranium to our nuclear reactors. What will be the result if this monumental blunder project washes away all our Thorium reserves? Will the project be an economic gain then? Even if the Thorium deposits don’t get washed away immediately, the next tsunami in this region will definitely take most Thorium with it into the sea!
It has to be noted that this narrow straight and shallow waters and Ram Sethu is what saved the shores of Kerala from a major disaster during the December 2004 Tsunami!
Awareness

It is interesting to observe that be it Ram Sethu, or the Dwaraka in the seas, etc it is always that the western science, researchers, archaelogists, etc that have been telling the Indians, see here, you have a great tradition, science and culture. The government of India or Indians have done very little to dig into our past history and culture. Forget even structures outside the mainland, there are still numerous un-excavated territories in the main land of India itself! If not for the NASA satellite photographs, the SethuSamudram channel would have been built, without us even being aware about the destruction of this structure nor the existence of it!

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