says about the bridge, 'Exploring space with a camera by NASA's  Gemini XI, this photograph from an altitude of 410 miles encompasses all of India, an area of 1,250 000 square miles,' George M Low, then the deputy director, Manned Spacecraft Center, NASA, notes. ' Bombay is on the west coast, directly left of the spacecraft's can-shaped antenna, New Delhi is just below the horizon near the upper left. Adam's Bridge between India and Ceylon, at the right, is clearly visible...' We can see the picture dramatically resembles the description given in Kalidasa's Raghuvamsham . Kalidasa wrote, (sarga 13): 'Rama, while returning from Sri Lanka in Pushpaka Vimaana told Sita: "Behold, Sita, My Setu of mountains dividing this frothy ocean is like the milky way dividing the sky into two parts".'
The Encyclopedia Britannica describes the bridge thus, 'Adam's Bridge also called Rama's Bridge, chain of shoals, between the islands of Mannar, near northwestern Sri Lanka, and Rameswaram, off the southeastern coast of India.'
Apart from such issues of heritage and belief, there are genuine concerns regarding security and the tsunamis' impact increasing in case the Ram Setu is destroyed. If the new channel is created through the present Rama's bridge, international ships would pass through it making a de facto international boundary between India and Sri Lanka, facilitating an increased alien presence, burdening our navy to a great extent.
So far the sea between India and Sri Lanka has been recognised as historic waters, though the United States has been pressurising to have it declared as international waters and said in a naval notification in 2005 that it does not accept the sea between India and Sri Lanka as 'historic'. The US declaration and the role of the Tuticorin Port Trust, the nodal agency to implement the Sethu Samudram Canal Project coupled with the haste with which the project was inaugurated, has given rise to many unanswered questions.
The US Navy operational directive refusing to accept the sea between India and Sri Lanka as 'historic' was made on June 23, 2005. The Prime Minister's Office sent some queries in March 2005 to N K Raghupathy, chief of the Tuticorin Port Trust. He sent answers to the PMO's queries on June 30, 2005 and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with United Progressive Alliance Chairperson Sonia Gandhi inaugurated the project on July 2, 2005. Why were the queries sent to the TPT and not to an agency which had scientific authority to look into the geological and maritime aspects of the project? Why did the prime minister and the UPA chairperson rush to inaugurate the project without, prima facie, having the time to look into the answers given by the TPT chief? Why was the present route okayed which essentially requires the destruction of the Ram Setu, while other options, closer to Dhanushkodi, which did not touch the Ram Setu were ignored?
Local fishermen, Hindus, Muslims and Christians alike oppose the present route and are demanding alternative channels, which are available. They say the present channel would destroy marine life and corals. This will kill the trade in shankas (shells) that has a turnover in excess of Rs 150 crore (Rs 1.5 billion) per annum. Invaluable thorium deposits would be affected, which are too important for our nuclear fuel requirements.
Professor Tad Murthy, the world renowned tsunami expert, who advised the Government of India on the tsunami warning system and edited the Tsunami Journal for over 20 years, has also warned that the present Setu Samudram route may result in tsunami waves hitting Kerala more fiercely. In a reply to a query regarding the Sethusanmudram's impact, he wrote, 'During the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 26, 2004, the southern part of Kerala was generally spared from a major tsunami, mainly because the tsunami waves from Sumatra region travelling south of the Sri Lankan island, partially diffracted northward and affected the central part of the Kerala coast. Since the tsunami is a long gravity wave (similar to tides and storm surges) during the diffraction process, the rather wide turn it has to take spared the south Kerala coast. On the other hand, deepening the Sethu Canal might provide a more direct route for the tsunami and this could impact south Kerala.'
The issue concerns us all, and should be taken up as Indians, without getting entangled in party lines and political games. The Ram Setu or Adam's Bridge belongs to all humanity, being an important heritage site; hence the government should not allow it to become another issue affecting Hindu sensitivities. Nobody is opposing the Sethu Samudram Project, only a realignment of the route is being asked, as the present one destroys the Ram Setu.