Close to 43 years after it collapsed in 1977, the ‘broken bridge’ on Adyar estuary — home to urban legends, haunted stories and also a popular shooting spot in the city — is set to get a new lease of life as the Madras High Court has asked the Chennai Corporation to explore options to restore the structure. This bridge was built to connect Besant Nagar beach (Elliot's beach) with the Foreshore Estate beach, primarily to help fishermen commute. In 1977, portions of the bridge were left hanging after it collapsed due to strong currents and flood. After its collapse, people started calling the connecting road ‘broken bridge’.
Now, decades after its collapse, the Madras High Court on Friday asked the Greater Chennai Corporation to explore possibilities and come up with a feasibility report to reconstruct a wider bridge connecting Besant Nagar to the Marina Loop Road via the broken bridge to ease traffic.
Justices Vineet Kothari and R Suresh Kumar made the observation upon perusing reports filed by Corporation Commissioner and the Joint Director of Fisheries on the regulation of fish sellers and stalls on Marina beach and the Loop Road, an exercise that was carried out in response to public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Fishermen Care, a non-governmental organisation working for the rights of fishers.
The judges reportedly told Additional Advocate General SR Rajagopal that the congestion on DGS Dhinakaran Road and Greenways Road can be eased if an alternate route is found. A report in The Times of India states a 2019 traffic police survey done on DGS Dhinakaran Road and Durgabai Deshmukh Road found that there were 26,120 vehicles during peak morning hours and 32,353 vehicles plying between 5 pm and 8 pm daily.
Activists, however, were quick to point out that such a reconstruction project would flout the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notification and endanger the lives of marine organisms as well as the livelihood of fisherfolks. Activist and writer Nithaynand Jayaram has called for a meeting to discuss the implications of such a project on Sunday.
The judges also directed the Corporation to ensure that only local fishermen, whose families reside in the tenements, be allowed to sell fish in the allocated area on Loop Road. The Commissioner had reportedly stated that an estimate for the permanent fish market will be finalised by March 15 and is expected to be completed by June this year.
The possibility of constructing two foot-over-bridges connecting the seaside of the Loop Road to the proposed permanent fish market will also be studied and reported to the Court based on its direction.