Rajahmundry: The fate of the project to renovate the landmark Sir Arthur Elibank Havelock bridge and maintain it as a national monument hangs in the balance.
Opened to traffic in East and West Godavari districts in the year 1900, the bridge across the Godavari served the Indian Railways for over a century. Later, it was abandoned. When the Congress Government came to power in the year 2004, local MP Vundavalli Aruna Kumar and MLA Rowthu Suryaprakasha Rao took up the issue at the government level. Jakkampudi Rammohana Rao, who was then R&B Minister, took the initiative in making the bridge a tourist attraction. He broached the issue with Geetha Reddy, who was then Minister for Tourism, and Divisional Railway authorities in Vijayawada.
Meanwhile, the municipal corporation, during the tenure of M.S. Chakravarti as Mayor, passed a resolution expressing its willingness to take up the beautification project. It had even expressed its readiness to pay some amount as lease to the Railways. After the municipal elections, the proposal was kept under cold storage for six months.
Later, when Anam Ramnarayana Reddy was made Minister for Information and Tourism, Mr. Suryaprakasha Rao took up the issue with him. Mr. Ramnarayana Reddy personally visited the bridge along with Mr. Aruna Kumar and Mr. Suryaprakasha Rao.
The Minister then said that the Railway Ministry had agreed to handover the bridge to the Tourism Department on annual lease of Rs.1 lakh. Consultants were appointed to construct pedestrian pathway to enable the tourists and locals to take a stroll on the bridge.
The Minister later told the Assembly that the Havelock bridge would be handed over to the government for maintaining it as a national monument.
Now that the term of the government is over, there is uncertainty over the fate of the project.
It’s now up to the new government to make the project a reality. And, whether it will pursue is a million dollar question.