KOCHI: Though there has been a demand to preserve the historic 131-year-old bridge made by British engineers in Tripunithura by moving it to the Hill Palace and constructing a new bridge in its place, no step has been taken in this direction so far. The narrow bridge known as Irumbu Palam is located over the Padinjare puzha, which connects Tripunithura and the Kochi corporation and forms an easy route to Maradu.
The bridge was made in 1890 by London-based Westwood Baillie and Co., during the reign of Kerala Varma-V, and was used for the movement of royals from Kochi to Tripunithura and the transportation of goods.Recently at the state assembly, Tripunithura MLA K Babu raised a question regarding the bridge and the plans for its restoration to PWD Minister Mohammad Riyaz, to which the minister replied that the bridge has been closed for the past two years because it was in bad shape due to its age.
“There are cracks and rust in the steel beams and joints of the bridge. Its foundation has slanted, affecting its entire structure. The steel plates at the pedestal portion of the bridge are also rusting. Just some minor repair work would not be enough for the bridge’s restoration,” he said.
Meanwhile, the minister added that there were plans for the construction of a new bridge there.
“The government is examining a proposal for a new bridge at an estimated cost of `29 crore,” he said.
It was in March 2019 that the PWD Bridges wing gave a report to the Ernakulam District Collectorate detailing the condition of the bridge. The report stated that vehicles except two-wheelers should not be permitted to move over the bridge, based on which an order to this effect was issued.
According to MLA Babu, it is popular demand that the bridge be moved to the Hill Palace for conservation measures, considering its history and Tripunithura residents’ sentiments towards it. “I have written to the government to take immediate steps in this regard. The bridge has to be conserved as it is more than 100 years old. But a new bridge also has to be constructed, as it is a shortcut connecting to Maradu. The safety of the people who are using the current bridge also has to be taken into consideration,” he said.
Babu said he will continue to attract the government’s attention to the state of the bridge. “No one knows what plan the government has made for this historic bridge. We will continue writing to the minister and the department concerned until proper action is taken,” he said.
Meanwhile, Tripunithura municipal chairperson Rema Santhosh said she was not aware of any proposal to construct a new bridge here. “The current bridge acts as the border between Tripunithura municipality and Kochi corporation. The bridge has to be constructed by the PWD department. We are not aware of any project in the proposal stage and, as far as I remember, nothing has been discussed,” she said.