The Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) will not conduct or fund any study to determine whether the Ram Setu was a man-made or a natural structure, its newly appointed chairperson Arvind Jamkhedkar has said, dismissing the project earlier announced by the HRD body.
The Council had last year in March said it would conduct an underwater exploration study to see whether the Ram Setu or Adam’s Bridge was a natural or an artificial phenomenon. “There was a proposal by one historian to take up such a project and the council members are against supporting it. In fact, they are very angry about it. We are not going to conduct any such study or even fund one,” Jamkhedkar told PTI. Jamkhedkar assumed charge of the ICHR on March 5.
“It is not the work of historians to carry out excavations and work like that. For that, there are apt agencies such as the Archaeological Survey of India. The maximum the ICHR can do is to recommend it to the agency concerned,” he said in an interview.
His predecessor, Y Sudershan Rao, had announced that “theoretical training” under a pilot project would begin and exploration would be conducted later. “One of the major projects that we are going to initiate is the Ram Setu pilot project which will seek to ascertain or find out if these structures were the results of natural phenomenon or man-made,” he had said.
Indian mythology states that the Ram Setu, between what is now India and Sri Lanka, was built by an army of monkeys for Lord Rama and his warriors to cross over to Lanka. Rao, contacted by PTI, did not comment on the project being scrapped. “I had initiated the project but by the time we could do any work on it, my term was over,” he said.
The bridge has been at the centre of a controversy, especially since the Sethusamudram shipping canal project was mooted by the UPA government. The project triggered widespread protests, with a section of people holding that it would destroy the Ram Setu.
The ICHR is a flagship research-based institution that functions under the Ministry of Human Resource Development.