Oct 24, 2016

The New Steel Bridge

R Jayaraman

A bridge too far, or too costly, as per your view. This is the newest news amongst the many ones that is grabbing eyeballs about Karnataka driven events in the national press. I too blinked for a minute. A steel bridge? Gimme a break!

For an untrained eye imagining a steel bridge is a stretch. How would it look? Would it be dark in colour or painted pink? Will it be heavy or light with some cotton and nylon thrust in between steel girders? This is a deadly coup by the innovative and bold Siddy, the CM of Karnataka. For one thing, one must admire the way that Sid has managed the Cauvery issue, although, in one sense he has done a great long term damage to the rule of law in the land by boldly defying the SC order. But the cunning man that he is, he has manoeuvred in such a way that even the BJP had to attend the all party meeting where the resolution to disobey the SC order was taken by the Assembly. This clearly shows that there are pockets in the BJP which still have not heard the view from Delhi – that development, and not politicking, is the way forward. It is a great pity that the party led by Modi and Amit Shah had to compromise in such a manner. The Cauvery is a deep river indeed. Hope it will wash away such sins.

After manoeuvring the assembly coup of the Cauvery, Sid then turned his attention to the steel bridge. This is a novel idea. I am not aware of many such bridges in other parts of the world (no doubt a few are there, which we will come to), other than the one I have seen in old Mumbai chawls where from one building to the other you could walk on such steel “bridges” made up of a few steel beams anchored precariously at each end. I must say that the idea is bold – and diversionary, a real googly. When the going gets tough, the tough get going!

A lot of people are now left wondering who thought of this piece of modern marvel. Surely, Superman will have to be invited to erect the girders, the steel sheets and the lot. The weight of the bridge is hopefully less than the foundation upon which it will have to stand, and knowing Bengaluru roads, one cannot be faulted for entertaining doubts on this score. But if one were to look at the proposal as explained in one of the papers it appears that this steel bridge will go over the proposed concrete flyover which is already under construction at the Hebbal junction. An expert from the IISc is quoted as saying that such a construction i.e. a bridge over another is feasible in view of the metro running over the Western Expressway in Mumbai! Clearly this expert is no expert as he has not seen the multi-layered roads in many American cities. Looks like a scam is brewing.

Steel bridges are not new to the world or India. The Howrah Bridge, the legend from Kolkata, is one of the most lovable of such bridges. It is used by millions of people and has withstood the vagaries of the weather, various governments, people of all hues and birds and beasts. There are others too like the Oakland bridge in Los Angeles which is nearly all steel. But one is not clear why the fuss? No doubt, my old company Tata Steel could benefit, if, like the British armoured cars in WW II, they could supply this steel also. But then the plan released by the BDA – Bangalore Development Authority – smells to put it politely. One flyover is already on at Hebbal and this steel bridge will be a split dual carriageway construction, on both sides of the Hebbal flyover, at a height of about 11 to 12 metres. Hairbrained – to say the least. But then engineers can always make such things. But why should a government lay one flyover over another and then waste money, steel, concrete and jam up the space? As I said before, no one can blame you if you blame the government of hatching up another scam in the true Congress way. Way to go, Sid!

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