The Uttarakhand government has drawn up a plan to turn abandoned bridges into restaurants to generate revenue while promoting tourism. According to Minister Satpal Maharaj of the Uttarakhand Department of Tourism and Works (PWD), the construction of the national road and two-lane bridges has resulted in several bridges in the state being taken out of service.
To start the project, the PWD identified five such abandoned bridges that fall on the road to Chardham Yatra. The five identified bridges are on Delhi-Badrinath highway, Dehradun-Rishikesh highway, Rishikesh-Phoolchatti highway, Rudraprayag-Gaurikund highway and Kotdwar-Pauri highway.
Initially, one or two of these identified bridges would be converted into restaurants. If the initiative is successful, other bridges will be integrated into this program and transformed into tourist attractions.
Maharaj says that although they are not in use, the structure of these bridges is still very strong. “I thought we could build a glass floor on these bridges and build restaurants or similar facilities. On one side of these bridges, there will be decorations and, on the other, we can create car parks. I asked the PWD to analyze and identify the bridges. If successful, we can build these two-story facilities,” Maharaj said.
Saying that Uttarakhand would be the first state in the country to implement such an initiative, Maharaj said the idea came to him when he visited New Zealand and saw a restaurant built on an abandoned metal bridge. .
“I’ve seen customers enjoying the view of a river from both sides. Later when I visited Gangotri, I found several narrow metal bridges in our state which were outdated,” Maharaj said. The minister said the government does not need a separate proposal for this initiative as the PWD and Department of Tourism can collaborate and accomplish the outcome.
“These are several fine British period PWD properties. These properties are not in good condition but are in beautiful locations. We plan to renovate them in PPP mode,” he said.
The minister also said the plan is to lease the bridges and build restaurants in PPP mode. He also said that he ordered the PWD officials to give the lease for at least 30 years because no one would be interested in investing several lakh rupees for a short term (say five years).
The Minister was convinced that this decision would boost tourism and generate income.
PWD chief engineer and department head Ayaz Ahmad said he identified five bridges and forwarded the list to the tourism department, which will continue the project.