Puncturing the Bharatiya Janata Party's claims over the Adam's Bridge in the Palk Bay being the mythical Ram Sethu, Union Shipping and Road Transport Minister T R Baalu said the hypothesis lacked scientific proof and ruled out the possibility of changing the present alignment for the Sethu Samudram Shipping Channel Project.
After inspecting the ongoing dredging works at the Adam's Bridge area on Sunday, he told newspersons that studies carried out so far had not revealed the existence of a man made structure in the area.
A premier institute had made 91 boreholes in and around the site to ascertain the truth and the soil samples kept at the Sethu Project Office could be verified.
According to him not even a single piece of evidence was available to prove the existence of a man-made structure at Adam's Bridge, the chain of sandy islets, some of which frequently get submerged due to tidal waves, connecting Dhanushkodi and Talaimannar in the northern Jaffna Peninsula.
Reacting to the BJP's campaign, pressing for a change in the alignment to protect the Rama Sethu, he said the issue was being raised with an eye on the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh.
The present alignment was cleared when the BJP-led NDA was in power. Turning the tables on the BJP, he said it was the then Shipping Minister V P Goel who had accepted the 2002 report prepared by NEERI.
Further, Ms Uma Bharti held the Mines portfolio when the Geological Survey of India conducted a detailed survey of the area and concluded that the structure was a natural one.
To a query about the NASA's satellite images, which were being used prove the claim on Ram Sethu, the minister said the US Space Agency had not responded to the letters pertaining to the matter.
Baalu denied there was a delay in carrying out the dredging programme and said the dredger of the DCI had resumed work after repairs to an instrument.
In order to expedite the pace of the work, four more dredgers have been pressed into service and a few more would be deployed shortly, he added.
Dredging is expected to be completed by 2008 and the project would provide a navigable route, connecting the East and West coasts of the country besides throwing open the Tuticorin Port as a major hub on the maritime map.