Saturday, October 24, 2009

Bridge of sighs

Bridge of sighs
Once the pride of Bangalore, KR Puram cable-stayed bridge is now a picture of neglect. BBMP and BDA wash off their hands saying it is not under their jurisdiction.The NHAI that built it remains mum

This is one bridge you would be tempted to burn. In 2003, the then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had specially come down to the City to inaugurate the KR Puram hanging bridge. He exclaimed that foreigners coming to India would henceforth not just visit the Red Fort in Delhi but this hanging bridge in Bangalore. After six years, the ‘pride of Bangalore’ is becoming an embarrassment. Leave foreigners, even local residents hate the drive on the bridge.
The bridge built across Bangalore-Jolarpet railway line is an important link to National Highway-4, which connects Bangalore to eastern India. Choppy roads, broken fencing, vegetation through the cracks, and ‘moon sized’ craters - you name it, this kilometre-long bridge has it. Crossing it is no less than a Herculean task. If you try driving in a straight line when you approach the bridge from Indiranagar-Beniganahalli side, chances are you will swerve and duck to avoid a bone jarring ride. Same is the case when one ascends the bridge from KR Puram-Ramamurthynagar side to reach Tin Factory bus stop. With craters all over, none of the vehicles get a chance to follow lane discipline on the bridge even if they want to.
Vishnu Prasad, who travels on the bridge for his yearly pilgrimage to Tirupathi, always carries an extra pillow for the trip. He says, “The ride on this bridge is less than a kilometre long but is enough to shake up my spinal chord and give me a back ache that takes me to hell and back.”
The bridge lies in a pathetic condition as both BBMP and the BDA say it is not in their jurisdiction. Krishna Prasad, chief engineer of Mahadevpura zone, BBMP, says that the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) that built the structure is yet to hand it over to the BBMP. He says, “We spoke to Sridhar Murthy, executive engineer, NHAI, about the problem and requested him to rectify the problem. NHAI did cover up some of the pot holes a few months ago.”
However, NHAI’s patchy job has created more problems. “The shoddy job to smoothen the road has left the surface even more uneven. You drive over a covered section only to find it dipping where the road has not been touched. It is as good as going over a pot hole itself,” says Vivek Krishnan, who travels on the bridge every day for work at the ITI factory.
According to medical experts, the uneven ride can do irreversible damage to your spine. Dr Arjun Srivatsa, a citybased surgeon who specialises in spinal chord injuries says, “People tend to travel at an average speed of about 60 km per hour. An impact at that speed can hurt your back. The worst case scenario is that your spine can break and you can be paralysed for life.”
Meanwhile, the three governments departments BBMP, BDA and NHAI are doing the only thing they are best at - passing the buck. Krishnaprasad says the situation will get better once the bridge is handed over to the BBMP. Till then - we wait.


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