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The Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) demolished the British-era Amrutanjan Bridge on Sunday using controlled blasting. According to authorities, the 190-year-old bridge was hindering traffic and had caused several accidents between Pune and Mumbai.
Due to the bridge’s pillars, the six-lane Mumbai-Pune Expressway had to be restricted to four-lanes which limited smooth flow of traffic. As the nation-wide lockdown due to COVID-19 has reduced stream of vehicles, the MSRDC decided this would be a good time to demolish the bridge. They obtained special permission from the Raigad district collector and the local police to pull down the bridge. It took some days to do that, work was carried out between April 4 to 14.
The MSRDC started the process on Sunday morning by fitting explosive into its drilled piers. Chief Engineer Dilip Ukride informed that on each of the six piers, holes were drilled into 15-20 different locations. The bridge was eventually brought down by 6:20 pm with simultaneous explosions.
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Built-in 1830 near the Khandala Ghat, the bridge connected Pune and Mumbai. Later, it served as the third line for the Railways to reverse engines on the Bor Ghat section. This stopped after the introduction of power engines. After India got its independence, the owners of Amrutanjan relief balm put up big advertisements on the side of the bridge, which is how it was dubbed the Amrutanjan Bridge. However, the bridge was mostly lying unused after another bridge parallel to the original one was constructed.
In the late 1990s’ after the traffic congestion started to increase, the Pune-Mumbai Expressway was built. Its S-shaped road passed under the Amrutanjan Bridge leading to several accidents. While the plans to abolish the bridge were made in 2017, many opposed it, wanting to preserve it as a heritage site. Later, after several legal proceedings, it was decided the structure will be demolished. The MSRDC however, could not execute the plan due to the high volume of traffic on the expressway. Till now.
In the coming week, the Road Development Corporation will clear the debris as well as the leftovers from the site and fix any damages that might have taken place on the Expressway due to the destruction.
Ukride also said that with the bridge gone, the expressway lanes would be widened.
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