Govt. to file new affidavit in 'Ram Sethu' case in Supreme Court

New Delhi, Sept 14:  The Government will file a supplementary affidavit in the Sethu Samundram case in the Supreme Court today.

The UPA Government decided to file a new affidavit in the wake of protests by the BJP and other Hindu groups over the government's first affidavit, where the Centre refuted any historical existence of Lord Rama.

On September 12, the Centre rejected the claim of the existence of the "Rama Sethu" in the area where the Sethusamudram project is under construction, saying there was no historical evidence to establish the existence of Lord Rama or other characters in Ramayana.

"The contents of the Valmiki Ramayana, the Ramcharitmanas by Tulsidas and other mythological texts ... cannot be said to be historical record to incontrovertibly prove the existence of the characters or the occurrence of the events depicted therein," the government's affidavit said.

On Thursday, BJP President Rajnath Singh said that the UPA Government should withdraw the Archaeological Survey of India's (ASI) affidavit relating to the mythological "Ram Sethu" from the apex court, and apologise for hurting Hindu sentiments.

Hindu groups have called on the government to stop the Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project, saying it will demolish the mythical bridge linking India and Sri Lanka, believed to have been built by Lord Ram.

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) is opposing the 560 million dollars project, which they say would destroy the Ram Sethu, a 48- kilometer chain of limestone shoals that once linked Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu to Mannar in Sri Lanka.

The Sethusamudram Project will dredge a channel in a narrow strip of sea between India and Sri Lanka, reducing distances and cutting costs for freight traffic.

According to the Central Government, research has shown that the bridge was a series of sand shoals created by sedimentation.

Dredging for the project began in 2005 and the channel -- 12 metres deep, 300 metres wide and almost 90 km long -- will provide a crucial link between the Palk Bay and the Gulf of Mannar.

When the project is completed, ships sailing between India's western and eastern coasts will no longer have to go around Sri Lanka, and are expected to save up to 36 hours of sailing time.

The project has also sparked protests by other groups including conservationists and local fishermen, who say the dredging will mean dumping sediment in deeper water further out to sea.

This and increased freight traffic will harm marine life and threaten the livelihood of thousands of fishermen in both countries. (With Inputs from ANI)

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