The debate about whether the Ram Setu is natural or a man-made bridge is going on from years. Now, after the Central Advisory Board on Archaeology, a body that comes under the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), approved the proposal for an underwater exploration project to determine how and when the Ram Setu was formed, research on the subject is likely to begin this year, reports TOI.
Ram Setu, also known as Rama’s Bridge, Adam’s Bridge, Nala Setu and Setu Band is a chain of shoals between Pamban Island (Rameswaram Island) off the south-eastern coast of India and Mannar Island off the north-western coast of Sri Lanka.
The study which would be conducted by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) Goa, will focus on the process behind the formation of Ram Setu and also whether there are any submerged habitations around Ram Setu.
“The historicity and the date of ‘Ramayana’ remain a debatable subject among historians, archaeologists and scientists. It is proposed to carry out scientific and underwater archaeological studies to understand the nature and formation of the Ram Setu and its surrounding area,” the proposal note says.
The research vessels of NIO named Sindhu Sadhana or Sindhu Sankalp will be used in this project to collect samples of the sediment situated at 35 to 40 metres below the water level.
“The proposed study will be based on archaeological antiquities, radiometric and thermoluminescence (TL) dating for geological time scale and other supporting environmental data,” Prof. Sunil Kumar Singh, Director, NIO, told TOI, furthering that “Radiometric technique will be used to ascertain the age of the structure which is reported to consist of coral or pumice stones. Corals contain calcium carbonate that will help us find the age of the structure and of course the period of Ramayana.”
Congress does not believe in the existence of Shri Ram nor the historical veracity of the Ram Bridge
Ram Setu has been embroiled in controversy since 2005 after the then Congress-led government proposed the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project and Manmohan Singh inaugurated the project. The project proposed a shipping canal across the Gulf of Mannar, Palk Bay, and the Palk Straits to link the Arabian Sea with the Bay of Bengal. For this, a channel, passing through the limestone shoals of Adam’s Bridge (which is also known as Rama’s Bridge, Ram Setu, and Ramar Palam), was to be dredged in the Sethusamudram sea between Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka.
However, the project was opposed by environmental groups as well as some Hindu groups and national parties like the BJP as they said that the project would damage the Ram Setu.
In 2007, the Congress Party, which does not believe in the existence of Shri Ram, had filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court to argue that Ram Setu which is believed to have been built by Lord Ram, lacked scientific and historical veracity. However, ten years later, Modi government scrapped UPA’s stand on Ram Setu and decided to leave the Ram Setu untouched.
The affidavit incidentally came close on the heels of a research-based programme in the US-based Discovery Science channel which showed that the Setu is man-made and not natural. Moreover, studies of Oceanography has also suggested that the bridge is 7000 years old. And the carbon dating of beaches near Dhanushkodi and Mannar Island roughly matches the dates of Ramayana.