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US heritage body wants Ram Setu preserved
R Prema in New Delhi
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June 11, 2007 17:28 IST

The World Monuments Fund, a US-based international preservation body that brings out the annual world monument watch list of endangered sites, has come out in an open support of Ram Setu or Adam's Bridge.

The Indian government should realise that it is more valuable to preserve it than to demolish it for the Sethusamudram canal project for bringing ships inland, the body has said.

The Ram Setu, which has become a tug of war between the government and the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Hindu organistions, does not figure in the list of endangered sites released in New York this week but fund chairman Marilyn Perry has stressed that the government can leave the disputed area untouched by re-routing the canal.

He also suggested that the government make it a tourist attraction by sending tourists in glass boats to the bottom of the site to view the beautiful rock formations.

While the government as well as the Supreme Court have rejected pleas to divert the canal instead of demolishing what they claim to be solidified sand dunes and no man-made construction of the so-called bridge as the saffron party claims, Marilyn suggests that an international team of scuba divers be allowed to take underwater photographs and carry out tests to find out whether the rock formations still exist.

"It is easy to demolish but hard to construct anything like this again," she stressed.

In a New York-datelined interview published on Saturday, Marilyn agreed that her fund was not a world policeman and its requests may fall on deaf ears, but still it strives for creating an alternative vision of the value that the bureaucrats are not able to see.

'They only see water and revenue, and not the archeological importance beneath the sea,' she remarked.

Admitting that it can only try to create a public awareness about the endangered sites and other NGOs can also do so, she pointed out that more effective way will be to involve the local people if the government refuses to yield.

'We could not stop construction of a dam in Turkey as the government would not listen to us. The am would flood some of the great archeological sites, yet the government was adamant,' she added.

Her fund's president, Bonnie Bumham, said the public voice can force stoppage of the demolition.

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