The Gulf of Mannar World Heritage Site & Save Ram Sethu Campaigns have written to Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India, to express deep concern at his intention to carry out an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) of the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project (SSCP). Campaigners see this as a precursor to pushing ahead with the scheme to excavate a shipping canal in the environmentally and religiously sensitive Gulf of Mannar, the body of water lying between India and Sri Lanka.

The letter, signed by an international consortium of ecologists, academics, scientists and religious leaders, says plans to continue with the project are a "crime against the planet," one that flies in the face of "unanimous agreement among political, religious and scientific communities in India and abroad that it is an ill-conceived venture with the potential to destroy permanently the unique and fragile marine ecology of the Gulf of Mannar."

As well as being a site of exceptional biodiversity, the Gulf of Mannar is home to the ancient pilgrimage site of Ram Sethu, or Adam's Bridge, which has great religious significance to the people of India and millions of Hindus worldwide.

The letter urges the Prime Minister to scrap the SSCP and designate the Gulf of Mannar a UNESCO World Heritage mixed Natural and Cultural site, thereby leaving "a lasting legacy for the people of India and the citizens of the world." Failure to do so, says the letter, will be a "sin against nature and the generations to come."

Signatories to the letter include Dr Peter Bunyard, co-founder of the UK's Ecologist magazine; Somduth Dolthuman, President of the Mauritius Sanatan Dharma Temples Federation; Dr. Anantanand Rambachan, Chair of Religion at Saint Olaf College, Minnesota, USA; Dr. Ranil Senanayake, Sri Lankan Marine Archaeologist and the Founder of Rainforest Rescue International; Shradhanand Sital, Chairman, Global Human Rights Defence; Dr. I Gusti Ngurah Arya Wedakarna Prince of Dalem Benculuh Tegeh Kori, Bali, and Dr. Kusum Vyas, founder of the Gulf of Mannar World Heritage Site & Save Ram Sethu Campaigns.

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