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Home / India News / 2007 / May 2007 / May 14, 2007
Holy men warn Govt. to stop Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project
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Holy men warn Govt. to stop Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project

Several Hindu religious leaders have warned the Central Government that they will organise a mass movement if work on the Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project (SSCP) is not stopped.

New Delhi, May 14 : Several Hindu religious leaders have warned the Central Government that they will organise a mass movement if work on the 'Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project' (SSCP) is not stopped.

They believe that the SSCP would be dug up by demolishing a mythological bridge linking India and Sri Lanka. Legend has it that the 'Ram-Sethu', a 48-kilometer chain of limestone shoals, was constructed by Lord Ram, the king of Ayodhya.

The structure is said to have linked Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu to Mannar in Sri Lanka.

"We do not need to show any more patience on the issue. The message has reached far and wide. We will march right up to Rameswaram. Let the Central Government be warned what implications the movement might have. We are not the ones to get scared," said holy men owing allegiance to the Shankaracharya Swaroopanand Saraswati, who participated in a rally on Sunday evening.

The rally was held under the banner of the 'Sethubandh Rameshwaram Raksha Samiti'.

The issue has also rocked the ongoing session of Parliament, with the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party stalling the proceedings in the house on the issue.

Work on the project, first proposed almost a century ago, was started in 2005.

Under the 560 million dollars SSCP, a channel will be dredged in the shallow portion of the sea off the southern tip of India so that vessels of up to 30,000 tonnes, including Indian Navy patrol vessels, will not have to circumnavigate Sri Lanka.

It would reduce the sailing time between India's east and west coasts and is seen as a major trigger for development of ports in the region.

Once finished, freighters sailing from one side of India to the other will no longer have to detour south around the bottom of Sri Lanka, saving up to 730 km and 36 hours of travel.

Environmentalists have warned that the project could have disastrous consequences for the marine and coastal ecosystems of Sri Lanka.

The Minister of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways, T.R. Baalu, recently told the Rajya Sabha that as per the Detailed Project Report (DPR), the project is scheduled to be completed by November, 2008.

There is no scientific evidence regarding the existence of any ancient man-made structure in the proposed Sethusamudram Ship Channel alignment. As per the information available, no heritage site has been declared in the project area, Baalu added.

ANI

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