In a decision that will “help boost” high-end tourism in Uttarakhand, the government will build 135 cantilever bridges to ease volume of traffic that will register a hefty increase following completion of the Chardham all-weather road project by 2020, a senior official has said.
Under the project, a network of long span cantilever bridges -- that uses projecting beams (called cantilevers) to support the main part -- would be built on rivers crisscrossing the mountain state.
“Some 135 such bridges would help ease the volume of traffic that is likely to witness a significant increase following completion of the Chardham all weather road project in a couple of years,” additional chief secretary Om Prakash said.
“Those bridges would link all tourist destinations with the Chardham, which would give a desired boost to high-end tourism in the mountain state.”
The project worth ₹300 crore would be funded by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD).
“It will be completed by December this year in compliance with a high court order,” Prakash said. He said the long span cantilever bridges would be built in all the 10 hill districts.
“These bridges would be pillar-less except the two pillars that would be erected on the banks of rivers,” Prakash said. “No pillars would be built on riverbeds as they won’t withstand the pressures of the fast flowing mountain streams.”
Conversely, the bridges that would be built in plain areas would be normal bridges with cement concrete pillars to support them.
“These bridges would be built using normal technology as the speed of flowing water decreases as the hill streams enter the plains,” the official said, adding the “wind pressure too decreases” accordingly.
Prakash said the network of cantilever bridges would be built connecting roads crisscrossing the tourist destinations with the Chardham—the four fabled shrines of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamnotri.
“Such a network of bridges would have several advantages,” he said.
For one, that would help accommodate the volume of traffic that would substantially increase following the completion of the Chardham all-weather road project.
Secondly, all the tourist destinations dotting the hill state would be easily approachable for high end tourists as they would be able to easily drive in the hills.
“The easy accessibility of the tourist spots to high-end tourists would give a much needed boost to the mountain state’s tourism based economy,” said the official.
“That means all those associated with the tourism sector--from hoteliers to restaurateurs to tea shop owners would be benefited.”
High end tourists visiting the mountain state would also have a major advantage for the government in terms of revenue.
“That means our receipts from the tourism sector would substantially increase as high-end tourists would pay more taxes while staying in expensive hotels or while having food and snacks in upmarket restaurants,” said Prakash.
With the increased arrival of high spending tourists, wellness, adventure and ecotourism would also get a boost benefiting the people as well as the government.
“An increase in the people’s income may also help check forced migration from the hills,” said the official.
“That would be possible provided more hiking trails and home stay facilities are developed and the locals are professionally trained as hosts and guides for high-end tourists.”
Prakash said the benefits that would accrue to the people and the government following the state’s easy accessibility to high-end tourists “are unimaginable” today.
“Lakhs of pilgrims do visit the Chardham but their spending capacity being limited, financially, the annual yatra (pilgrimage) doesn’t benefit the locals and the government much,” he said.