In a disappointing development, the famed 'Lakshman Jhula' - the suspension bridge at Rishikesh - has been closed after 90 long years.
The iconic suspension bridge which is a jewel in the crown when one talks about Rishikesh, was constructed over the Ganga river during the British Raj. The decision came after an expert panel discussed the issues pertaining to the condition of the bridge which was deemed to be beyond repair. The bridge, which stood strong over decades with millions of tourists thronging to the aesthetic destination, is in an untenable state.
Experts also suggested that immediate shut down of access to all traffic on the bridge was mandatory, so as to avoid any serious mishaps. The bridge is built right above the holiest river in the country, Ganga, which has a turbulent flow of water. Hence, all necessary steps have been undertaken to prevent any risk.
The panel was summoned by the Public Works Department (PWD) which analyzed the carrying capacity of the bridge and cited it as a potential threat beyond repair. Uttarakhand Additional Chief Secretary Om Prakash also weighed in on the situation and said that:
"We have observed that several components of the bridge are in bad shape. Pedestrians should be barred from moving on the bridge immediately. Looking at the present condition, it is not in a shape to sustain any more load. So, to avoid an unpleasant or a serious mishap, it is highly recommended that this bridge should be closed."
The recent times have seen a sharp rise in traffic and pedestrian movements. Ever since 1929, the eye-catching bridge has been an attraction for tourists and locals alike. In the earlier times, it was used by Char Dham pilgrims and used to slightly swing, hence harnessing the name 'Jhula'. Meanwhile, locals protested against the administration decision and took to the streets.
A 'Ram Jhula' was also created in the 1990's to support the load on the Lakshman jhula. Officials are yet to decide whether the bridge needs to be dismantled.