By Utpal Borpujari
The government is carrying out a feasibility study to view to find a new location to build a bridge on the Tungabhadra river downstream from the Hampi World Heritage site, which would replace the cable-stayed bridge within the heritage site area that collapsed in January, 2009.
UNESCO, which had opposed the construction of the bridge within the heritage site, is awaiting the results of the feasibility study that is being conducted as part of a larger effort to develop a traffic movement analysis on the entire World Heritage Site.
“The study is being conducted as part of a larger effort to develop a traffic and transport study for the entire World Heritage Site and its buffer zone. The result of both studies is expected in the months to come and will be announced,” Iskra Panevska, UNESCO’s advisor for communication and information for South Asia, told Deccan Herald here.
The earlier bridge had collapsed on January 22, 2009, killing several construction workers. The bridge connecting Hampi with Anegundi, another site linked with the Vijayanagara empire. The unfinished bridge had collapsed only weeks after resumption of construction that had been halted nearly a decade ago.
UNESCO had put the group of monuments at Hampi in the list of World Heritage in Danger in 1999 because of two under-construction bridges, and the Anegundi bridge was particularly objected to by the UNESCO as it clashed with the integrity of the World Heritage site both in terms of visual impact and likely increase in heavy vehicular traffic.
UNESCO and ICOMOS, the body which decides on sites to be put in the World Heritage list, had recommended in 2000 that an alternative site be picked to avoid any threat to the Hampi monuments.
After a bypass road and other control measures were put in place between 2003 and 2006, the World Heritage Committee in 2006 removed Hampi from the list of heritage sites in danger.
The construction of the controversial bridge was approved during Veerappa Moily’s tenure as the chief Minister and was the result of demand from local people, and its foundation was laid in 1993 with the stated objective of helping faster economic development of the region and facilitating easier visit of tourists to Anegundi.