NEW DELHI: Indian archeological researchers and historians will carry out an underwater exploration in search of material evidences in a bid to find out whether Ram Sethu is man-made or a natural phenomenon.
The Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) will conduct the ‘Ram Sethu Pilot Project’, for which it will conduct a two-week training of 15-20 researchers and faculty of archeology on marine archeology and underwater exploration. No ministry is involved with the project so far, though the ICHR plans to ask for grants from the Centre.
The project is also part of the ICHR’s initiative to understand the development of subcontinental civilization from 4th to 1st millennium BC.
Depending on the outcome of the project, the ICHR will take a call on a similar exploration like the one done in Dwarka, off the coast of Gujarat.
Professor Y Sudershan Rao, chairperson, ICHR said: “There has been remote sensing studies and other reports on Ram Sethu which are contradictory. We are now looking at material evidences.”
Ram Sethu is a chain of limestone shoals between Pamban Island off Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka’s Mannar Island.
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Different theories have been floating around the Ram Sethu. While a study of NASA satellite images in 2002 said it’s a human-made structure, NASA distanced itself from the claims saying that the images reveal nothing more than a 30-km-long, naturally occurring chain of sandbanks.
In 2003, a team led by Professor S M Ramasamy, Centre for Remote Sensing (CRS), Bharathidasan University, Tiruchi said that the land/ beaches between Ramanathapuram and Pamban were formed due to the longshore drifting currents and suggested that “as the carbon dating of the beaches roughly matches the dates of Ramayana, its link to the epic needs to be explored.” A former director of the Geological Survey of India, S. Badrinarayanan, said that such a natural formation would be impossible due to the presence of a loose sand layer under corals for the entire stretch.
According to member secretary, ICHR, Anand Shanker Singh, former director of Archeological Survey of India, Alok Tripathi, a professor of archeology with the Assam Central University, Silchar is the coordinator of the project and will conduct the training.