CHENNAI: The broken bridge may not be known by that name anymore. The iconic structure will soon be rebuilt as the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority is planning to turn it into a tourism spot as part of the `100-crore Chennai shoreline re-nourishment and revitalisation project. The project will cover seven beaches along the 30-km stretch between Marina and Kovalam.
Interestingly, officials said, the idea is not to connect the bridge to any road for vehicular transport. The bridge will be a standalone structure to attract tourists. It will be engineered on the lines of the Bandra-Worli sealink, with tensile structures supporting it. The spot will have cycling tracks, walkways, space for outdoor games, viewpoints, and seating facilities. Adequate lighting and CCTV cameras will be installed to improve safety in a place that used to be considered a crime spot.
The bridge was constructed in 1967, as a transit point across the creek for fishermen. It collapsed partially in 1977, after which it gained popularity for the charm of counter-preservation.
Broken bridge is just one of the seven spots in the 30-km stretch intended for revitalisation under the new project. “The idea is to conserve the shoreline,” says Anshul Mishra, member secretary of CMDA. “And, not just from a beautification point of view. Projects will be taken up for biodiversity and ecological conservation. We may even look at connecting the entire stretch that now lies fragmented.”
A Special Purpose Vehicle has been announced to execute the project, with the housing department secretary as its chairman and CMDA member secretary as chief executive officer. Chenani corporation, Chennai river restoration trust, metro rail, state environment department will be involved in the implementation. The light house director will also be included in the SPV as the project looks at integrating lighthouse tourism. The SPV members will meet in a month to take the work forward.
“The project is currently in the draft stage. We will discuss the formalities to be completed and projects to be taken up. The vision is to ensure ecological conservation, marine life conservation, and community engagement. The infrastructure will be created with eco-friendly materials, such as wood and galvanised steel,” says Mishra. A feasibility study will be conducted before starting the project. A consultant will be identified and engaged.
“Several reports of the Union government have flagged the need for us to protect the shoreline, especially along the Marina Beach due to high sand accretion,” says Pradheeps Muthulingam, environment expert, CMDA. “Cyclonic activity and the frequent formation of sand bars at the mouth of Adyar and Cooum rivers cause loss of habitats. We also need to tackle the issue of effluent and waste disposal.”
CMDA has studied several research papers on ecologically sensitive areas and has conducted field research with experts, says assistant planner Gokila Vijayalakshmi. “Cities such as Puducherry have borne the brunt of lack of conservation efforts, while it is not that bad in the case of Chennai,” she says. “This is the right time to begin the conservation efforts.”
Beachfronts will be improved as per the norms laid out for blue flag beaches, that insist on the usage of eco-friendly materials for development of clean and safe spaces. The project is expected to rope in 26 fishermen settlements and, thereby, improve their livelihoods.