The process to construct another bridge to replace the 150-year-old Loha Pul on Yamuna River might finally be back on track.
The Loha Pul connects eastern India with Delhi, via rail network.
Heritage authorities had stalled work on an alternative bridge in 2006 as according to its then proposed alignment, the bridge would have cut across a portion of the Salimgarh Fort wall and few structures within it.
Salimgarh Fort falls in the Red Fort complex, which is a World Heritage Site.
Progress on bridge first stopped when the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) raised an issue. Then in 2007, Red Fort was declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
In 2010, a stringent amendment in the Archaeological Act also prevented work to be taken up again, despite the fact that the Railways had already spent R20crore on it.
“A new bridge must be constructed at the same site, as alignment at any other place would mean a curve of more than 4 degrees when the line reaches the Old Delhi Railway Station. It is not desirable, as it will make trains vulnerable to derailment,” said a senior railway official.
Last year, the Northern Railways finally roped in the Indian National Trust for Arts and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) to assess the project.
The INTACH report proposed an alternative alignment, wherein the new line joins the existing railway line before the fort. “The construction of the proposed realignment from outside the fort wall will not only save the historical circular battery and fort wall but also the green buffer along the track and will not need any further opening in the fort wall,” said the INTACH report.
Dharm Singh, chief administrative officer (construction projects) northern railways confirmed, “We have accepted INTACH’s recommendation and sent the proposal to the Competent Authority for Delhi.”
The competent authority cleared the proposal and sent it to the National Monument Authority (NMA) last week. However, although the alignment has been changed, the issue of construction within the regulated area is still alive.
The ball is now in NMA’s court.