London Bridge is falling down
10 yrs ago,when my mum'd gotten transferred to an almost non-existent place called Gangavathi,summer vacations were dreaded.Mum created interest among us,taking us around Hampi-while we watched our History text books come alive.Among the other places that i visited,was the Anegundi bridge.Built across river Tungabhadra,it was planned to link Hampi and Anegundi.Local folk referred to it as their London bridge!I was visibly disappointed at the sight of a half completed bridge,which failed to match the actual London bridge in size and magnificence.We lend our ears to angry fishermen,who complained of how the bridge would destroy their chances of earning a livelihood.
This evening,I was shocked to hear that the bridge had collapsed.It was reportedly,still under construction.I'm not an expert in Civil Engineering,but surely,you dont need 10 yrs to build a bridge.6 labourers are supposed to have drowned,and more missing.When i tried to find more information regarding the bridge online,i came across these lines in The Hindu.
The Veerappa Moily government had decided to construct the bridge to link the two historically important places — Hampi and Anegundi —of the Vijayanagar period. People were crossing the river using coracles. About 80 per cent of the work on the bridge was completed in 1999. Only a span of about 24 m of concrete had to be laid when the work was suspended following objections from United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). The organisation said the modern bridge did not complement the World Heritage site. By then the State Government had spent around Rs. 4.75 crore.After much persuasion and corrective measures undertaken by the authorities, UNESCO permitted the completion of the bridge. The State Government released an additional Rs. 6.33 crore for replacing the cables and laying concrete for the remaining work.
Initially,i thought our corrupt politicians are to be blamed.Now i wonder if UNESCO played a greater role in delaying the completion of the bridge.I agree with them trying to protect World Heritage Sites and all that.But,to have a half completed bridge hanging around just to shield the heritage status of a place-doesn't that sound absurd to any of the blokes working at UNESCO? Trapped between UNESCO's World Heritage Site tag and our authorities,the people of Anegundi are left with only dreams of their little London Bridge......