The Sethusamudram project which aims to create a shipping channel by dredging the sea-bed between Dhanuskodi in India and Talai Mannar in Sri Lanka, is surrounded by divisive and complex debates.
In the show 30 Minutes this week, CNN-IBN brings you all the perspectives that are shaping this epic controversy, right from the epicenter of the issue.
With help from local people, CNN-IBN travels to Lands End in Dhanuskodi. From there, it's a boat ride to a chain of eight tiny islands in the middle of the Palk Strait: The British called them Adam's Bridge, but ancient Hindu mythology calls then the Ramar Setu.
Not far from Adam’s bridge, dredging ships are at work. They stay just beyond the controversial spot, as per Supreme Court orders.
Their task is to dredge up 82 million cubic metres of sand to deepen the channel for ocean going ships to pass through.
Nearly four crores worth of machines were destroyed last month because they hit the limestone rocks at bottom of the sea, what the VHP may well call divine intervention.
“Karunanidhi’s DMK is against Lord Ram,” said Murlidharan from the BJP.
Meanwhile, thousands of fishermen and women of Rameswaram are agitating against the Sethusamundran Shipping Channel project.
It is not just their nets, they say the Project will claim their livelihood as well.
“We went to the government but they didn’t give us any compensation,” said fisherman Thaliya.
The Gulf of Mannar harbours over 3,600 species of flora and fauna, making it one of the richest coastal regions in Asia. Corals, sea cucumbers and seaweeds make it one of the richest areas for harvesting marine resources.
So why should the dredging affect the fishermen? Local people argue that fish breeding grounds such as corals will be blasted. Also, fishing nets are destroyed by dredging ships while marine food like seaweeds which earn fishermen additional income will be dredged and destroyed forever.
“We have filed a case in court but who is listening to us? Almost 50,000 fishermen will be affected. Even the environment impact assessment has not been done properly. At the public hearings the fishermen were not allowed to speak,” said Ossie Fernandes from Coastal Action Network.
As the fisher women gather in Rameswaram to protest the battleground has already shifted to Delhi.