83 bridges found ‘unsafe’ in UP

Lucknow: Following the recent cases of bridge collapse in Bihar, an ongoing inspection of bridges across Uttar Pradesh has found that 83 such structures in the state are ‘unfit to commute’, government officials said.

The audit done so far of more than 700 bridges in 41 districts found that there are heavily used bridges on which rectification was needed to be made on a war footing.

Among the measures being taken are closing them completely for commuters or banning them for heavy vehicles. Two of these unfit bridges are in the state capital.

Brijesh Singh, the Minister of State for the Uttar Pradesh Public Works Department (PWD), said, “The monitoring and repair of bridges is a continuous process that our department undertakes. We have identified the bridges that need repair. Those that are found to be no longer of use will be shut down for traffic completely.”

In Lucknow, Pucca Pul over the Gomti river in Chowk and another bridge over the Sai river in Mohanlalganj have been identified as unfit and have been shut down for the movement of heavy vehicles.

Experts feel that regular monitoring followed by prompt action to rectify damaged bridges is required to avoid a situation such as collapse.

“When the estimate for repair goes above Rs 40 lakh, which is the limit to be passed by the engineer-in-chief, the file goes to the state administration, where technical officials may not understand the immediate need for a sanction for repair,” said Salil Yadav, retired chief engineer (bridge), PWD.

The 83 bridges that have been found unfit/vulnerable are in 41 districts of Uttar Pradesh.

The highest number of seven such bridges was identified in Kanpur Dehat, followed by four in Saharanpur.

In several districts, diversions were put in place after finding the bridge pillars to be of poor strength.

The inspection/strength test was conducted for pillars, bridge girders, expansion joints, pier caps and wing walls.

“The decision to stop movement of heavy vehicles, stop all traffic or issue diversions was taken at local level. We are compiling the report as the survey process is still going on. More than 700 bridges have been inspected so far,” said a senior official of the Uttar Pradesh PWD.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has directed officials to get inspections of all bridges in Uttar Pradesh that are more than 50 years old.

The PWD has now demanded that district offices submit proposals for the repair of the existing bridges or the construction of new ones. The final report is likely to be compiled next week.

Meanwhile, Lucknow’s iconic Pucca Pul is now closed to heavy vehicles as it is one of the 83 bridges in the state found “unfit to commute” amid concerns over its ability to handle modern traffic loads.

The bridge connecting Daliganj and Chowk was constructed by British officers after dismantling the old Shahi Pul, a stone bridge commissioned by Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula in 1780. The Shahi Pul was regarded as a marvel of its time and completed in 1797. Following the British annexation of Awadh in 1857, the stone bridge was deemed inadequate and weak, particularly with the advent of heavier artillery.

“In 1911, the British authorities decided to replace the aging structure, laying the foundation for Pucca Pul, which was inaugurated by the then Viceroy, Lord Hardinge, on January 10, 1914. Notably, the formal opening of King George’s Hospital took place the same day. Over the decades, Pucca Pul became a crucial artery for the city, accommodating increasing traffic demands,” historian Roshan Taqi said.

“The decision to finally ban heavy vehicles from using Pucca Pul was made following expert advice. As the bridge transitions to serving only lighter traffic, its legacy as a historic and functional landmark of Lucknow continues, albeit with necessary adjustments to ensure its preservation for future generations,” Taqi added.

In 2022, the Bridge Corporation conducted a thorough inspection, which revealed that the bridge could no longer safely support heavy vehicles.

Despite recommendations to restrict such traffic, the order was initially not enforced.


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