The low-lying bridge (chappathu) downstream of the Cheuruthoni dam became famous when a rescue officer frantically ran with a child on the flooding bridge after the shutters of Idukki reservoir were opened in 2018.
A large portion of the Thodupuzha-Puliyanmala road in Cheruthoni town was washed away in the flood. But the the bridge, constructed by Canadian engineers as part of the Idukki dam, remained intact despite being battered by rocks and debris in the floods.
Now, it has been decided to construct a new bridge and a row has erupted over its alignment. An association of traders there has opposed the change of alignment by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI). According to the association, the construction of the new bridge will divide the town and there are no approach roads to it.
The District Collector has convened an emergency meeting on Thursday to discuss the issue. The NHAI has launched the work on the bridge, estimated to cost ₹23 crore. Merchants’ association Cheruthoni unit president Jose Kuzhikandam said the new alignment of the bridge would deny access to almost 30 shops and there would be no connectivity to the Thadiyampadu route. It is being alleged that the NHAI had deviated from the initial alignment.
NHAI assistant executive engineer Rex Felix said there was no change in the alignment. “The new bridge would be above the flood level of the river and 8.5 metres above the present bridge,” he said.
He said the new bridge would not make the shops inaccessible. “Some people are misleading the public,” he said.