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Calcutta civic body orders hoardings off footbridges

The hoardings will be allowed once the civic authorities are sure that the footbridge can withstand the extra load

By Subhajoy Roy in Calcutta
  • Published 17.02.19, 3:40 AM
  • Updated 17.02.19, 3:40 AM
  • a min read
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A footbridge in front of NRS hospital in Sealdah without any hoardings on Saturday. Bishwarup Dutta

The civic body has asked agencies responsible for the upkeep of footbridges in Calcutta to remove hoardings and run a health check on every structure, a Calcutta Municipal Corporation official said on Saturday.

Removing the hoardings will help shed the extra load that can weaken the footbridges, the official said. The agencies must take remedial measures if the structures are in “poor health”.

The hoardings will be allowed once the civic authorities are sure that the footbridge can withstand the extra load.

Metro spotted a footbridge in front of NRS Medical College and Hospital in Sealdah free of hoardings on Saturday.

“Many of the footbridges are several decades old and it is not clear when they underwent a health check,” the CMC official said.

The civic body is responsible for the maintenance of three footbridges in Ballygunge, Dhakuria and Rajabazar. There are at least 10 footbridges in the city, the official said. The footbridge at Sealdah is maintained by the transport department.

The order came in the backdrop of the collapse of the Majerhat bridge on September 4, in which five people were killed. The same month a concrete slab of a footbridge in Baruipur station collapsed leading to the death of a woman.

Removing hoardings is necessary for a proper inspection of the structures by civic engineers, the official said.

Most footbridges in Calcutta were built following the public private partnership model where the cost of construction was borne by the private party, the official said.

They recover the cost of construction by letting out space to advertisers.

“We cannot ban hoardings on footbridges as advertisements help private parties recover the cost of construction.”

The agencies must get a safety certificate from a “well-reputed university” or an authorised engineering consultant, the official said.

It has been decided that the CMC will take over the responsibility of maintaining all footbridges in Calcutta once the check is done.

“Eventually we will maintain all footbridges in Calcutta. All agencies will hand over the responsibility to us,” a CMC engineer said.