Signature Bridge: A hope over the Yamuna

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Signature Bridge: A hope over the Yamuna

On 4th of November, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal inaugurated the much awaited and very much delayed, Signature Bridge. The Signature Bridge looms majestically over the Yamuna. There are thousands in north-east and east Delhi areas such as Khajuri Khas, Bhajanpura and Usmanpur who have waited for the opening of the bridge as if their life depended on it.

People Point of View

“Hundreds of families, including many of my neighbors, left Khajuri Khas because of the never-ending jams on the Wazirabad Bridge; many school children walked to school because their buses got caught in jams for hours almost every day,” says a resident of Khajuri Khas.

Every evening, hundreds of people can be seen walking all the way to the bridge, talking about how they can see the bridge from their roofs, and how it will give the benighted neighborhood, known for crime and grime, a whole new branding.

There are many instances of seriously sick people getting stuck in jams for hours on the Wazirabad Bridge. Crossing the river has been a herculean task for over 10 years because of the jams; the bridge will better integrate the colonies with the people on the other side.

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Reasons for the delay

The wait has indeed been long. The plan for an alternative bridge next to the narrow, congested Wazirabad Bridge has been afoot since October 1991 when The National Transportation Planning and Research Centre (NATPAC) submitted a draft interim report recommending a six-lane, dual carriageway bridge. But nothing came of it.

In November 1997, a speeding school bus lost control on the Wazirabad Bridge and plunged into the river, killing 28 children. The accident led to a huge outcry and the plan for an alternative bridge once again gained momentum in 1998. There were field surveys, technical reports but the bridge remained a distant dream.

The tenders and approvals took another four years and work began in 2010.

Iconic Bridge

What makes the asymmetric Signature Bridge — which is uncannily similar to cable-stayed Erasmusbrug bridge in Rotterdam in the Netherlands — unique is its 154-meter-high single pylon (twice the height of Qutab Minar), boasting a glass head with an observation platform; its single deck with eight lanes.

Not many know that the bridge has been the subject of study – in many cases part of a college project – for about 2,000 engineering students from all over the country. The walls of the DTTDC site office in front of Tibetan Colony, a few hundred meters away, have framed photographs of the bridge at various stages of construction, and a documentation room with over 15,000 structural drawings of the bridge.

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All we could see was Pusta Road, Outer Ring Road, Timarpur, Tibetan Colony, Gurdwara Majnu-ka-Tilla, the vast expense of the protected forest, and the undulating path of the Yamuna.

“On a clear day, the view can extend all the way to central Delhi,” assured a DTTDC official, who accompanied us to the pylon head. But it offers a depressing sight too — of the Najafgarh drain discharging its sewage waters into Yamuna, spreading like a thick, black sheet of poison, darkening the river waters, relatively clean upstream of the Wazirabad Bridge.

Cases filed against bridge chaos

The Delhi Police on Tuesday registered three cases, including one against the ruling AAP’s MLA Amanatullah Khan, in connection with the ruckus at the inaugural function of Signature Bridge.

The state BJP president alleged in his complaint that Amanatullah Khan pushed him down and threatened to shoot him.  Manoj Tiwari and his supporters allegedly got into a scuffle with AAP members and police at the inaugural event of the newly-built Signature Bridge here on Sunday.

 

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