The Uttarakhand government has ordered the immediate closure of the Lakshman Jhula in Rishikesh after a PWD report stated that the bridge is in a distressed state, which may lead to a mishap.
The iconic suspension bridge, across the Ganga, is 96 years old and connects the districts of Tehri Garhwal and Pauri Garhwal. One of the landmarks and chief attractions of Rishikesh, the 136-metre-long bridge is for pedestrians on paper but is frequently used by motorcycles.
Following the fresh order, officials have started barricading both sides of the bridge.
According to an order by Additional Chief Secretary, PWD, Om Prakash issued on Friday, the PWD had submitted a report to the government, stating that the Lakshman Jhula has become dilapidated due to an unprecedented rise in traffic.The report further said that the bridge’s towers appear to be leaning to one side. “Due to a further increase in traffic load, there is a possibility of bridge getting damaged in future and possibilities of loss of lives then, cannot be ruled out,” the order read.
The order also cited a technical study that says, “We observed that most of the bridge parts/components are in FAIL and COLLAPSE condition. This bridge should not be permitted for pedestrian movement…”
Citing the study report, the order directed that Lakshman Jhula be closed from July 12 onwards. Tehri Garhwal SSP Yogendra Singh Rawat told The Indian Express, “Pedestrian movement will be completely stopped as soon as barricading is completed.” The closure of the bridge could make it difficult for the administration to manage the crowd during Kanwar Yatra, which begins on July 17.
“We are in communication with PWD to develop an alternate bridge. There is another bridge, Ram Jhula. But once Lakshman Jhula is closed, load on Ram Jhula will increase. We need at least two bridges,” the SSP said.
Tehri Garhwal District Magistrate V Shanmugam said, “A new bridge cannot be built in a short time. SDM and officials of PWD and the police have been asked to inspect the area to find an alternate arrangement.”