Three of Kochi's iconic bridges remain abandoned, with efforts at renovating them having had little effect
They once served as vital links between the city and its far-flung areas. Today, with the coming up of new infrastructure, they remain bridges to nowhere.
In deep neglect, three of Kochi’s iconic bridges — Venduruthy, Mattancherry and the Iron Bridge in Tripunithura — are strident warnings about Kochiites’ forgetfulness.
The condition of the Venduruthy bridge is the most pathetic. Once the vital link between Ernakulam mainland and Willingdon Island, the old bridge is in utter neglect since the new Venduruthy-Vikrant Bridge was commissioned in late 2011.
The bridge, built in 1938 as part of the Cochin port project, is a huge chunk of the city’s past. It is now exclusively used by anglers and closed to traffic though there was a proposal once to let two and three-wheelers use it.
An official of the State Public Works Department (PWD) said no repair work had been carried out on the bridge’s structure over a long period of time. The official said the bridge, considering its historical importance, could have been maintained and opened to picnickers as was planned earlier. However, the plans have gone into deep freeze. A senior official of the Cochin Port Trust said the bridge had been handed over to the PWD.
The condition of the engineering marvel that is Mattancherry bridge is equally dismal. The bridge, of 1940 vintage, linked Willingdon Island to West Kochi. It has been totally neglected since a new bridge was commissioned in 1998.
Chairman of Greater Cochin Development Authority N. Venugopal said the authority was keen to take over the bridge to maintain it, but nothing has come of it so far.
A senior PWD official said the department had received administrative sanction for work on the bridge worth Rs. 60 lakh. However, the work had no takers. The official explained that since the bridge was a steel structure, contractors shied away from it since the work would be time-consuming.
Member of the Kochi Corporation council Celine Peter said the bridge was in for repairs with money from the MP fund. The work was expected to cost around Rs. 75 lakh.
The more than 125-year-old Irumbu Palam (Iron Bridge) in Tripunithura is a window to the temple town’s past. The bridge is reputed to have been assembled there by West Wood Company in 1895 to link Tripunithura and Maradu.
A PWD official said though a major renovation was undertaken in 1990, nothing had been done so far. Chairman of Tripunithura Municipality R. Venugopal said the bridge needed to be strengthened as it was in a weak condition. He said the municipal authority had appealed to the PWD to do up the bridge before the temple festivities begin in November.
The bridge, built to allow horse-drawn carts to cross the Poorna river, now carries light motor vehicles. Its importance has been considerably reduced with the commissioning of the mini-bypass which is now being used by those going from Tripunithura to Vaikom. The new bypass bridge is located parallel to the Iron Bridge.