The story of bridges

Our bureau Hyderabad | Updated on July 20, 2011 Published on July 20, 2011

Did you know that the British, who developed rail, road infrastructure in the country, did not build a single bridge over the rivers Ganga and Brahmaputra?

The Jogi Ghopa bridge over the river Brahmaputra in Assam has a foundation structure reaching 69 metres or about 220 ft. It is taller than the Qutub Minar.

Giving this interesting tidbits of information, veteran engineer and founder of the national bridge engineers body Indian institution of Bridge Engineers (IIBE), Mr M.C. Bhide, said there are nearly 5.5 lakh bridges in the country and as India grows its demands for infrastructure would increase and with it more bridges would be needed.

It was Indian engineers who started building bridges over the two great rivers — Ganga and Brahmaputra. Today, we can boast of the 2.4-km-long Bogibeal, rail-cum-road bridge over the Brahmaputra and the world's longest river bridge in Patna, Bihar, he told Business Line.

The 88-year-old Mr Bhide said it was not known why the British did not build bridges over these rivers.

A big challenge that Indian engineers encountered was the alluvial soil and the meandering course, as well as the floods in Brahmaputra, which posed as major issues to be handled.

He felt that the Golden Quadrilateral project to expand road infrastructure in the country as well as the other major projects, provided big opportunities ahead. The shortage of labour as well as qualified civil engineers is another issue confronting the sector.

Earlier, addressing a news conference on the upcoming three-day national seminar from July 22-24 on 'Design & Construction of Bridges' in Hyderabad, Mr Bhide, who is the Director-General of IIBE said though infra companies were mechanising most construction activity, the need for both labour and professionals was daunting.

The conference will address issues of new technologies and bridge requirements, metro rail bridges, construction material, maintenance and retrofitting as well as hear some case studies from participants who span the entire construction industry.

The National Bridge Research and Development Centre, Hyderabad, a constituent of IIBE has decided to take up consultancy projects and set up a library to house the over 26,500 pages of technical literature and other publications.

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Published on July 20, 2011
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