RAJAHMUNDRY: The state government has started taking steps to develop the over 100-years-old bridge across Godavari river, popularly known as Havelock bridge and to transform it into a tourist attracton with commercial value. The bridge originalle connected Kovvur and Rajahmundry but will now be converted to a heritage structure. The development expenses for the project are estimated to add up to around Rs 100 crore.
Work on the bridge will be carried out in a phased manner to retain the flow and attraction of tourists from different parts of the country and also from abroad.
Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (APTDC) will be looking after the development work of the bridge. The department plans to rope in expert agencies through e-bidding. Once the bridge gets developed as a tourist hub, an agency of international repute will be entrusted with the task of operating and maintaining the facility.
Before the development, the four km long bridge had a width of three metres. Officials plan to expand this to six metres with 1.5 metres being extended on either side giving the total width of available space to six metres. As part of the project, there will be a platform that will cover the entire length and width of the bridge. On this will be made available several amenities and attractions for visiting tourists that would be developed within it. The entire stretch of the bridge will be divided into numerous zones, including food courts, handicraft stalls, walking track, cycling track besides amusement and recreational facilities.
As vast island stretches are located on either side of the bridge on the river, authorities are planning to develop them as sand zones and provide amenities to encourage adventure activities. Suitable structures will be set up for the benefit of tourists to step down from the bridge into the river bed where islands are located so that they can freely move up and down from the bridge to the islands to participate in various activities.
The State Government has roped in engineering experts from JNTU-K to carry out tests on strength and stability of the bridge. The experts have given a green signal for the development works to promote tourism. "The main objective of the State Government in developing Havelock bridge is to show it as a heritage point for attracting good number of domestic and foreign tourists and also to earn revenue. A highly reputed agency will be roped in for operation and maintenance of the bridge to suit the taste of tourists,” Akhanda Godavari project special officer G. Bheema Sankara Rao said.