1. The UPA Government announced the launch of the Sethusamudram Shipping Channel Project (SCCP) in 2005 to create a shipping channel between the Palk Bay and the Gulf on Mannar between India and Sri Lanka.
2. The project would include dredging across the Ram Setu or Adam’s Bridge, believed by Hindus to be a bridge built by Lord Ram to journey to Lanka. This bridge is said to be one of the most important religious sites for Hindus, and plays a significant role in the Ramayana.
3. The Supreme Court had, in 2007, restrained the UPA Government from going ahead with the project, and suggested that the Government examine an alternative route that does not dredge the Ram Setu.
4. The shipping channel is proposed to be 30 metres wide, 12 metres deep and 167 kilometres long.
5. Janata Party President Subramaniam Swamy had called for the Ram Setu to be conferred the status of national monument. Swamy also contended that the demolition of Ram Setu will amount to a criminal offence under section 295 IPC.
6. The Sethusamudram project drew the ire of Hindus across the country, who see it as a disrespect to Hindu religious beliefs.
7. Following national outrage over the project, Hindu groups formed the ‘Save Ram Sethu’ campaign in 2007 to create awareness, and to stop the Government from continuing the project.
8. The Sethusamudram project has also drawn widespread opposition from environmental activists, who argue that it will cause a great deal of damage to local habitation and marine life.
9. Besides environmental hazards, the SCCP was found to be economically unviable, as suggested by a report prepared by environmentalist RK Pachauri. The recommendation was rejected by the Government.
10. The BJP has warned the UPA Government against the demolition of Ram Setu, and said that it will not tolerate any tampering with the historical bridge.