Uttarakhand plans to make abandoned bridges tourist attractions

The Uttarakhand government has proposed a unique plan to transform abandoned bridges into restaurants, aiming to generate revenue and promote tourism in the state. Satpal Maharaj, the Minister of Uttarakhand Tourism and Public Works Department (PWD), revealed that the construction of the National Highway and two-lane bridges led to the abandonment of several bridges in the state.

Under this initiative, the PWD has initially identified five such abandoned bridges located along the Chardham Yatra route. These bridges are situated on the Delhi-Badrinath highway, Dehradun-Rishikesh highway, Rishikesh-Phoolchatti highway, Rudraprayag-Gaurikund highway, and Kotdwar-Pauri highway. The plan involves developing one or two of these identified bridges into restaurants, and if successful, more bridges will be included in the scheme to transform them into tourist attractions.

Minister Maharaj emphasized the strong structure of these bridges, even though they are not in use. The idea involves constructing glass floors on these bridges and establishing restaurants or similar facilities. Maharaj envisions the scenic view on one side of the bridges and parking facilities on the other. He drew inspiration from a visit to New Zealand, where he saw a restaurant built on an abandoned metal bridge, providing customers with a view of the river on both sides.

Claiming that Uttarakhand would be the first state in the country to implement such an initiative, Maharaj highlighted the potential of defunct PWD properties from the British era, situated in beautiful locations. The plan involves renovating these properties in a public-private partnership (PPP) mode. Maharaj indicated that the bridges would be leased out for at least 30 years to attract investment and ensure the sustainability of the initiative.

PWD Chief Engineer and Head of Department Ayaz Ahmad confirmed the identification of five bridges and the handover of the list to the Tourism Department, which will proceed with the project. The government anticipates that this creative initiative will not only boost tourism but also generate substantial revenue for the state.