The Indian government’s Ministry of Culture has formed a permanent panel to study the mythical Saraswati river and draw up a plan to identify its basin and define its path.

In a notification issued in December, the ministry said the Advisory Committee for the Multidisciplinary Study of River Sarasvati will use remote sensing imagery to “study environmental changes, the history of archaeological cultures with special emphasis on the protohistorical era of River Sarasvati” over two years.

The panel has been set up a little more than a year after an expert committee of geologists, archaeologists and hydrologists said it had evidence to show the course of the Saraswati, which until then has only been known from mentions in the Rigveda and Hindu mythology.

In July 2016, the Haryana government had released water into a dry channel that was excavated to recreate the river’s supposed path

In March 2017, the Haryana Sarasvati Heritage Development Board recommended that the Indus Valley civilisation be renamed the “Sarasvati River Civilisation”, and that the river no longer be referred to as a myth.

This has been the subject of a great deal of debate for decades. While some Hindu groups and historians believe the “lost river” once flowed through the region that is now Haryana, other historians say the Vedas themselves have not been validated, and therefore, the river only exists in myth.