Ram Setu and The Sethusamudram Project (SSCP)

On November 10, the Supreme Court directed the Centre four weeks to provide a statement outlining its position on a request for the “Ram Setu” to be designated as a national historic site.

Ram Setu

  • Ram Setu, a 48-km long bridge-like construction between India and Sri Lanka, is also known as Adam’s Bridge.
  • The Ramayana refers to it, but little is scientifically known or verified about how it formed.

Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project (SSCP)

  • The British proposed the Sethusamudram Ship Waterway Project (SSCP) as a channel to connect the Palk Strait with the Gulf of Mannar.
  • Only in 2005 was the project officially launched.
  • A relatively linear coral ridge known as Adam’s Bridge or Ram Setu separates the shallow sea made up of the Gulf of Mannar in the south and Palk Bay in the north.
  • This connects Thalaimannar in Sri Lanka and Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu.
  • If finished, the SSCP is anticipated to significantly cut the amount of time needed to go between India’s east and west coastlines.

Concerns about the project

  • Computer simulations indicate that greater intensity waves may have an impact on the central, eastern, and northern regions of Palk Bay. These waves may deliver sediments. This indicates that these locations also get more silt, which makes them murkier.
  • Alignment is difficult: In accordance with how the canal is aligned, the models also show that waves reach the Bay from its north and south, respectively.
  • High cyclonic storm frequency Also susceptible to cyclonic storms is the region. In 1964, a storm was so strong that it completely destroyed the town of Dhanushkodi. Such storms may throw off the regional sedimentary processes.
  • Finding safe locations for dumping dredged material without hurting terrestrial or marine ecosystems is thus a major concern. Dredged material may harm marine habitats when dumped.
  • Ship-related water and air pollution: The air and water will be contaminated by emissions from ships travelling through the small canal. Additionally, an ecological catastrophe can result if a rogue ship carrying coal or oil is grounded or deviates from its intended course inside the canal.
  • Significant Ram Setu: While environmental groups have opposed the project because of the significant environmental costs it would involve, religious organisations have opposed it because they think the structure, which is mentioned in the Ramayana, has religious significance.

Need of protection

  • Marine biosphere reserves: In 1989, the Gulf of Mannar’s coral reef platforms between Thoothukudi and Rameswaram were designated as a marine biosphere reserve.
  • Rich in biodiversity area: There are said to be more than 36,000 different types of plants and animals living there, and it is surrounded by mangroves and sandy coasts that are ideal for turtle nesting. Additionally, fish, lobsters, shrimp, and crabs breed here. 70 of the 600 fish species that have been identified in the area are thought to be significant commercially.
  • Area already under stress: This area is already at risk from thermal plant discharge, salt pan brine runoff, and illicit coral mining. If the SSCP materialises, it will be the death knell for this delicate ecosystem and the local population’s way of life.


The Ram Setu bears the distinctive geological traces of a turbulent past. It must therefore be conserved as both a geo-heritage structure, as defined from a scientific standpoint, and a national heritage site.

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