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Religious controversy mires India-Sri Lanka dredging project

Religious controversy mires India-Sri Lanka dredging project

Mumbai: Central Government of India has become embroiled in a religious dispute that is making front-page news in India over its Setusamudram Shipping Canal Project to dredge the channel between India and Sri Lanka.
The plan envisages dredging a 48km stretch of limestone shoals known as Adam's Bridge, or Ram Setu, in the shallow Setu Samudram sea that lies between India and Sri Lanka. The move would produce a continuous sea route for large ships around the Indian Peninsula, reducing travel distance by some 650km.

However, the plan has proved contentious since Hindus believe the shoals to have originally been a bridge built by Lord Ram's army to reach Sri Lanka, and have petitioned against construction of the Canal.

In response to the challenges, the Government published an afadavit from the Archaelogical Survey of India (ASI) stating there was no historical or scientific evidence to establish the existence of Ram. The move has sparked furious popular and political protests acros the country, causing Congress president Sonia Gandhi to intervene and ask the government to take immediate remedial action.

A supplementary affidavit was therefore filed in the Supreme Court on Friday withdrawing the controversial statements of the ASI. "Lord Ram is a prominent Hindu god, his existence cannot be doubted nor does it need proof," stated law minister HR Bharwaj.  [14/09/07]