How would/should the Indian government react if Sri Lanka decides to destroy ‘Ram Setu’ in their territorial waters to construct a shippi…

IR : history : How-would-should-the-Indian-government-react-if-Sri-Lanka-decides-to-destroy-Ram-Setu-in-their-territorial-waters-to-construct-a-shipping-channel

Answer by Jai Parimi:

  • The proposal/ idea/ thought to dredge the bridge has come to Indian Government initially for a reason. (Main reason is to reduce the distance travelled by ships and create an international hub with strategic advantages) But, Indian Government denied the proposal on economic, environmental and sentimental concerns. This is understandable from India's side. Refer Sethu project.

Why Sri Lanka would dredge the bridge?

In short, Sri Lanka's strategic importance will reduce by dredging the bridge.

  • If there are advantages to Sri Lankan Government, It would have happily picked up  the project from where India left. But I think, the project will actually adversely affect Sri Lankan interests. How?
    • Sri Lankan port's are a major hub in this region and might loose their importance as ships coming from west now have a shortcut to eastern coastline of India and the rest of asian countries on the east side of India.

    • Reason one: The strategic location of Sri Lanka (at a strategic point in the Indian Ocean, touching the shores of the Indian subcontinent in the North; Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia in the East; Antarctica in the South; and East Africa in the West). 50% of all container traffic and 70% of the world’s energy supplies pass within sight of the Sri Lankan coast.

Proposed channel & Searoutes near Srilanka:

    • Reason two: The eastern trincomalee harbour hailed as "the finest harbour in the world". It along with 4 other ports would lose their opportunities & importance.

Ports of Sri Lanka:

    • Reason three: Currently, Sri Lanka is ideally situated to be a major communication center. This might be slightly affected but Srilanka will still maintain the status. Read Sri Lanka's strategic Importance to understand why it is called 'A Diamond in the String of Pearls'.
    • Most importantly, It would be against the sentiments of majority of Indians and a major population in Sri Lanka thus might instigate diplomatic issues with India or Indians and raise internal conflicts. This reason is equally true with India too. But, it will be mostly an internal issue for India and international issue for Sri Lanka.

What is 'Rama Setu'?

  • Adam's Bridge, also known as Rama's Bridge or Rama Setu, is a chain of limestone shoals, between Pamban Island, also known as Rameswaram Island, off the southeastern coast of Tamil Nadu, India, and Mannar Island, off the northwestern coast of Sri Lanka.
  • Geological evidence suggests that this bridge is a former land connection between India and Sri Lanka.
  • The bridge is 30 km long and separates the Gulf of Mannar (southwest) from the Palk Strait (northeast).
  • Some of the sandbanks are dry and the sea in the area is very shallow, being only 1 m to 10 m deep in places, which hinders navigation of large ships.
  • It was reportedly passable on foot up to the 15th century until storms deepened the channel. Temple records seem to say that Rama’s Bridge was completely above sea level until it broke in a cyclone in AD 1480.

What are alternatives to 'Ram Setu' from India?

  • There are proposals to dredge 'Pamban Bridge' connecting Rameswaram island to the mainland India instead of dredging 'Ram Setu'. This can put rest to the sentimental concerns but not economical or environmental concerns. 🙂

Thanks Sunny Mewati. This is a nice learning experience for me. For the above stated reasons, I don't think Sri Lanka will take up the project which would spell it's own doom. 🙂

Few good readings:

How would/should the Indian government react if Sri Lanka decides to destroy 'Ram Setu' in their territorial waters to construct a shippi…

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