Dehradun: Rishikesh’s 90-year-old suspension bridge, Lakshman Jhula, constructed during the British Raj over the Ganga, was closed on Friday after an expert panel suggested it is not in a position to sustain any more load.
An expert panel of the Public Works Department (PWD) recently studied the carrying capacity of the bridge and suggested that it be closed down as it poses a potential threat and is beyond repair.
“We observed that several components of the bridge are in very bad condition. This bridge should not be permitted for pedestrian movement from now onwards. It is not in a position to sustain any more with the present condition,” said Uttarakhand Additional Chief Secretary Om Prakash. "It is highly recommended this bridge be closed with immediate effect, else some big mishap could take place.”
There has been unprecedented rise in traffic and pedestrian movement along the bridge in recent times and the bridge towers appear to be leaning towards one side, he added.
The bridge, dating back to 1929, has been a major attraction for visitors as well as for locals who have several fond memories. The iconic landmark connects Tapovan village in Tehri district on the western bank of the river with Jonk in Pauri district.
One of the main attractions for tourists and devotees coming to Rishikesh, the pedestrian bridge also used by two-wheelers was named after Hindu mythological character Lakshman as it stands where he is said to have crossed the river with the help of jute ropes.
Many successful Hindi movies and serials like "Ganga Ki Saugandh", "Sanyasi" and popular detective serial "CID" have been shot at the Lakshman Jhula.
Ram Chandra Kanwal, a local from Rishikesh, told News18 that in older times the bridge was primarily used by Char Dham pilgrims. The 284-feet-long bridge used to swing slightly as a result of which it was named ‘Jhula’ (swing).
In order to support the additional movement, a new bridge ‘Ram Jhula’ was created in the 1990s. The officials said they are yet to take a call on whether the bridge needs to be dismantled.