Havelock Bridge to turn into tourist spot

RAJAHMUNDRY: With the intention of developing Havelock Bridge on river Godavari as a tourist destination, the state government is currently preparing a detailed project report (DPR) to develop a pedestrian pathway on the oldest bridge in AP.

The historic Sir Arthur Elibank Havelock Bridge over river Godavari extends from Rajahmundry in East Godavari to Kovvuru in West Godavari. Commissioned in 1900 and built by Sir Authur Cotton, it plied trains between Kolkata to Chennai. The Godavari Arch Bridge was later constructed as a replacement for Havelock Bridge.

According to cloth merchant Akula Ramakrishna of Rajahmundry, the construction of the bridge started in 1897 with steel girders and stone masonry. It served almost 100 years and was decommissioned in the year 1997.

"My grandfather used tell us stories about the bridge which is nearly 3 km long and has 56 spans each of 150 feet," he said.

Now, the state government wants to convert it into a national and historic monument. There were reports that the bridge would be auctioned by the railways department, which comes under South Central Railway, as scrap. However, the proposal was abandoned.

The proposal to develop pedestrian pathway was accepted in principle by the railways, sources said. The state government had reportedly paid Rs 8 crore to the railways. The state now plans to acquire land beside the bridge from the railways to develop it. The Rajahmundry Municipal Corporation has passed a resolution to take up beautification, sources said.

Sources in the Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (APTDC) said total cost of the project would be estimated once the DPR is prepared. "It is likely to cost around Rs 60 crore. The project is part of the Akhanda Godavari project funded by the central government. What facilities will be provided will be mentioned in the DPR," a senior official of APTDC said.