Gomti Riverfront development may cost city Hardinge Bridge(Pukka Pull): IIT-R
It has braved the fury of the Gomti for over five decades but now faces threat to its very existence from the ongoing development work on the river’s banks. The city’s most beautiful and oldest bridge – the Hardinge’s Bridge -- connecting the Lucknow-Sitapur highway, and the Railway Bridge in its vicinity, are unsafe and may not survive the impact if the river’s width is tampered with.
The observations, which experts say are alarming and could have far-reaching consequences for Old City in case of floods, have been made in a hydrological study for Gomti riverfront development done by Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Roorkee.
The 71-page report by professor Z Ahmed of the civil engineering department, was submitted on May 25, 2013 to Lucknow Development Authority (LDA) when the latter was toying with the idea of emulating the Sabarmati model for the city’s lifeline.
“We had drafted a plan but it was struck down by chief minister Akhilesh Yadav who said only soft landscaping and no construction work would be allowed near the river,” recalls an officer requesting anonymity.
More than a year down the line, the idea was picked up by the irrigation department, whose officials, obviously, do not see any real or perceived threat to the river from their ongoing ambitious beautification and development work. Washing its hands off the controversy, the LDA says it has forwarded the IIT, Roorkee report to the irrigation department, whose officials do not wish to comment on it.
But a former senior engineer of the irrigation department minces no words on the issue. “I fully agree with the report’s findings that there should be no tinkering with the river’s width and course,” says retired superintending engineer, Mahabir Prasad, who has worked extensively on projects related to the river .
“It’s too steep a price to pay when you realize the river will not gain much by way of its revitalization in terms of water-recharging or untreated sewage that flows into it. At least, I am yet to come across any concrete action on ground to that effect,” he said.
“And don’t forget, we have also not assessed the environmental impact the project is going to have,” said another officer requesting anonymity. The IIT, Roorkee had studied the possible impact the river front development plan would have on six structures under the changed hydraulic conditions across the Gomti river. This included Gomti barrage, Nishatganj bridge, Hanuman bridge, Daliganj bridge, Railway bridge and Harding bridge. The study found Gomti Barrage, Nishatganj and Daliganj bridges safe. The impact of high flow of water (scour in technical jargon) on Hanuman Setu bridge could not be done because of lack of data.