Malpe: While the suspension bridge disaster in Gujarat’s Morbi has shocked the country, questions are being raised about the safety of other suspension bridges. Safety issues have also come to the fore about the fitness of the Kemmannu suspension bridge in Udupi which attracts scores of tourists every day.
Locals fear that the bridge at Kemmanu is also unsafe, and if immediate precautionary measures are not taken a Morbi-like might occur here too.
The suspension footbridge under Kemmanna-Thonse Gram Panchayat was constructed in the 1980s to help residents Thimmanna Kudru area cross the rivulet. With the construction of a motorable permanent bridge, Kudru residents do not use the suspension bridge anymore. Now, it has turned into a tourist attraction – with large crowds gathering to experience the swaying of the bridge over water.
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Locals say that some parts of the bridge have been damaged. Reinforcing rods with concrete structures have been exposed to air, which weakens the concrete structure. Moreover, the general maintenance of the bridge is also lacking. The gram panchayat has displayed a signboard warning tourists of the dangers, but no one listens, locals lamented.
Earlier, Udayavani had also published a report about the poor and dangerous condition of the suspension bridge. In 2015-16, Rs 15 lakhs were released for the repair works. However, there have been no grants thereafter for systematic maintenance. Gram panchayat is cash-strapped and has to depend on grants from the state government. Repeated requests by the gram panchayat to the concerned departments, including the state’s tourism department have fallen on deaf ears, sources in the gram panchayat said.
Locals requested the government to take appropriate steps to improve the safety of the suspension bridge. To avoid potential mishaps in the near future, the district administration and the tourism department should take serious action, they said.