One more span of the old Cochin Bridge across the Bharathapuzha at Cheruthuruthy collapsed on Saturday night, giving a chance to the conservation lobby to strengthen their demand to protect the bridge from further ruin.
The sixth span of the historic bridge from Cheruthuruthy end hit the riverbed as the pillar moved to a side. The 15-span iron bridge has lost four spans since the bridge was declared unusable two decades ago. In November 2011, the eighth and ninth spans of the bridge collapsed when the ninth pillar gave in.
Although the bridge withstood the floods of 2018, it lost its 10th span in the devastating floods of 2019. Following the collapse of the sixth span on Saturday, social worker Prasad K. Shoranur sent a memorandum to the Cultural department to protect the bridge from further degradation.
The government has been reluctant to touch the 120-year-old bridge from the British era ever since the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) showed an interest in the bridge a few years ago. However, the demand to conserve the bridge has increased in recent times.
“It should be protected as a gift of the bygone era for the new generation. By conserving this strong structure, the Tourism department can capitalise on its historicity for promoting local tourism,” said social worker Boban Mattumantha.
Mr. Prasad is maintaining an exclusive blog for the bridge and has been campaigning for its conservation. “It should not be allowed to fall into oblivion,” he said in his blog cochinbridgeshornur.blogspot.com.
The 322.5-m-long bridge was constructed in 1902 by the then Kochi ruler Rama Varma XV with the technical support of British engineers. It was the first bridge across the Bharathapuzha connecting Kochi and Malabar.
Although it was originally a rail bridge with a narrow gauge, the Railways had given permission for bullock carts to cross it in the early days. In 1935, it became a broad gauge bridge. In 1945, it became a road bridge when the British constructed a new rail bridge parallel to it. In 2003, the Kerala government constructed a new Cochin Bridge to replace the historic one.