The new Pamban railway sea bridge being built to connect Mandapam town on the mainland with Rameshwaram on the Pamban Island in Tamil Nadu, may not be ready by November, railway officials said. The bridge is under construction since 2019.
After missing its earlier deadline of March this year, which was later extended to July, railway officials are trying to finish the work by November. “There are 99 horizontal spans of 18.3 metres and one span of 72.5 metres along the length of the bridge. Of the 99 spans, 73 have been laid. Tracks on these spans have been laid too. However, in recent days, wind speed at the project site has increased making it difficult to work at a fast pace,” a senior railway official told The Hindu.
The 72.5-metre span is a “lift-span” or a movable part of the bridge which will rise and let ships pass. “The lift-span has been assembled at the site. It now has to be erected. We need to erect the rest of the 26 spans too,” the official said.
The new bridge is being built over geographically challenging terrain as it is located in a corrosive marine environment, which is also cyclone-prone, and is a high-wind velocity zone.
The railway bridge connects the mainland to Rameswaram, the South Indian town which is also one of the four Char Dham pilgrimage sites along with Badrinath in the north, Dwarka in the west, and Puri in the east.
The 2.05-kilometre bridge is being built by Rail Vikas Nigam Limited at a budget of ₹545 crore. The new bridge will replace the old Pamban bridge, which is over a century-old. The Hindu had earlier reported that rail traffic on the old bridge had permanently stopped owing to safety concerns.
Historically, the railway line bifurcated after reaching the Pamban Island - one 10.06-km line leading towards Rameswaram and another branch line of 24 km terminating at Dhanushkodi. However, the Dhanushkodi line was destroyed by a cyclone in 1964.