Those who know the east coast of India will be aware of Adam’s Bridge, known in India as Ram Sethu, Rama’s Bridge. It is a chain of shoals forming 18 islands stretching from India to Sri Lanka, once a sandbank that may have connected Sri Lanka to mainland India until sea-levels rose, that represent a serious hazard to navigation and force ships going between India’s eastern and western ports to go the costly long way around Sri Lanka. That might change if the Indian government gets its way, or won’t, if a samll group of extremist Hindu’s get their wont.
Rama is one of the most important gods in the extensive Hindu pantheon. According to tradition, when Rama’s wife was kidnapped by a Sri Lankan king Rama gathered an army of monkeys to build a 48 kilometre bridge to Sri Lanka to rescue her. Ultra right-wing Hindus, believe in the literal truth of the story and regard Rama’s Bridge as a religious monument.
To resolve the navigation issue, the Indian government is proposing a canal through the hazard, the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal. It isn’t a new idea, it was originally suggested in 1860.
There are several scientific objections to the project but what has really put it on hold is a challenge by ultra-right Hindus who have appealed to the Indian Supreme Court on the grounds that it would damage what they regard as a religious monument. A NASA photograph seemed to confirm their beliefs.
The future of the project now rests with the Indian Supreme Court.