KOCHI: Residents of Venduruthy have been asking the government for the preservation of the 83-year-old Old Bridge for a while. They say the dilapidated historic structure should be conserved with a long-term plan and turned into a tourist spot. Though the previous governments had promised to preserve it as a historical monument, residents allege there has been no effort from the part of officials. The locals fear the bridge might share a similar fate to that of the railway bridge that was razed down in 2017.
“The bridge has a long history intertwined with the transformation of Kochi into a modern city. Sir Robert Bristo constructed the bridge in 1930 to connect Wellingdon Island with the mainland. Along with the engineering aspects, it has a huge historic relevance too,” said K J Sohan, former mayor of Kochi Corporation.
The construction of the bridge also had many specialities. “Though they set 50 years of life for the structure, the bridge doesn’t have any serious structural issues other than the after-effects of a collision with a ship. Britishers used thick iron sheets for concreting the spans of the bridge. A couple of paintings of its details are still available. Using all these facts, they can easily turn it into a major tourist spot,” he said.
Other than fishermen, who still come there for anchor fishing, many two-wheelers use the stretch in peak hours. “The authorities have kept blockages for heavy vehicles. There is also no effort from them to remove the creepers and crawlies which have infested the stretch,” said Jeevan P, a resident.
Residents also allege the construction of an underpass connecting Katari Bagh with the main road bypassing the railway line has also attributed to the poor state of the bridge. “Ever since the construction of the underpass, it has become difficult to enter the main road on the right side. Now, many have used the vacant spaces at both ends for dumping garbage,” said Sanoj V S, another resident.
CORP TO FOLLOW UP WITH GOVERNMENT
Kochi Corporation is planning to preserve the structure with the support of PWD and the Tourism Department. “Corporation has already taken up a few initiatives with Tourism and PWD departments. Preserving the bridge with heritage status is one of them. We will keep a tab on the progress in the coming months,” said Mayor M Anilkumar.