When the sluice gates of Cheruthoni dam were opened on August 9 to release excess water in the Idukki reservoir, the subsequent floods and landslides took with it several lives, houses and shops at the banks of Cheruthoni and Periyar River in the district. Even small bridges in the district were washed away, barring the Cheruthoni Bridge, which continues to remain intact, without any damage.
It is perhaps one of the bridges in the state that survived the massive floods that hit Kerala.
Although the approach road of the bridge was destroyed, the Cheruthoni dam, which was submerged in the massive water flow, has not sustained any major cracks or developed any issues, say officials, who inspected the bridge.
Some of the small bridges constructed by panchayats and district panchayats in Thadiyampadu, Vimalagiri, Periyarvalley, Karimpan and Vellakkayam have been totally washed out. Some these include Attukakad bridge in Pallivasal and Deviyar bridge in Munnar and the Aladi-Porikanni bridge in Upputhata. Even the widely-shared video of Attukad bridge, near Munnar in Idukki district, collapsing showed the extent of the damage.
An old yet strong bridge
According to Rex Felix, an assistant executive engineer with National Highway Devikulam, the Cheruthoni Bridge was constructed around the 1960s to handle the flowing water from Idukki dam.
“It is a 46.2 meters long-(6.6x7 spans) and 8 meter-wide submersible bridge. Designed to carry two-third discharge from the Cheruthoni dam, it is capable of handling water even when the five shutters are opened. The bridge is strong as sheetrock is used to anchor the bridge," explains Felix.
Joyce George, MP, Idukki, added, “The Bridge was constructed by Canadian engineers. M40 grade concrete, which was the highest grade in the 1960s era, was used for construction.”
Traffic to resume in two days
Meanwhile, officials said that the bridge, which connects Kattappana-Cheruthoni route, will be opened for transportation soon. “Though we will partially resume traffic in this route in two days, we need to do some works on the bridge to resume the traffic in full swing," said Rex Felix.
The MP said that the bridge is ready to take traffic. “A dam expert will inspect the bridge on Monday. As the approach roads are washed out by the flood, it will be a hurdle to resume the traffic in full level. The construction works of the approach roads have already begun,” he said.