Saturday, July 24, 2010

ASI Hires a British Firm to Repair Mangey Bridge

A British firm has been roped in by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to help in the conservation and repair of Mangey Bridge. The century-old monument built by the British connecting Salimgarh Fort and Red Fort was damaged as heavy traffic movement underneath scraped off the inner arch of the structure.

A team of 15 engineers from UK-based firm Cintec known world over for its patented anchoring system has been specially brought in from Newport for the task, along with four expert drillers. While the work normally takes up to three months, Cintec officials said they had been requested by ASI to work on a tighter deadline in view of the Commonwealth Games in October. The firm is thus targeting to wrap up the work that started less than one week ago within a month.

Said a senior ASI official: ‘‘This is a new technology which has not been used in a Delhi monument till now. As part of this, the structure, without being dismantled in any way, will be anchored with steel bars to strengthen it. After the restoration of Mangey Bridge, we are contemplating using the same technique for structural strengthening of a tomb across Delhi high court, where Delhi Metro is constructing an underground parking lot.’’

Abhishek Singh, project manager for the firm in India, said: ‘‘First, we carry out a structural analysis of the monument to identify the weak points and causes behind these. Accordingly, we decide on the anchoring design. To strengthen the structure we use two components stainless steel rebars and grout.’’

For this bridge, the firm followed the same method and found several weak points caused as a result of heavy vehicle movement and vibrations. ‘‘The bridge was consolidated after which we brought in the steel enforcements. Following this, we will be recreating the lost portions to maintain the originality of the bridge and then strengthen it with a stainless steel backbone.’’

While Cintec has been associated with several such projects worldwide, in India this is the first time the firm is working on heritage buildings. The work portfolio of the firm includes Egypt’s pyramids, Hibbs Temple and also Buckingham Palace. The company has also been identified by Indian Railways for work on their arched bridges. ‘‘We have been asked by the railway board to help in the instrumentation of bridges to assess their preparedness for increased load,’’ added Singh. Besides working on strengthening a bridge near Lucknow for Northern Railway, Cintec was approached by CPWD a few years ago to make the residence of Chief Justice of India more earthquake resistant.
Several months ago the bridge was found to have suffered heavy damage because of overloaded vehicles plying underneath. PWD had agreed to realign the road to ensure all heavy vehicles pass under the highest point of its arch to prevent any further damage after repair work was completed.

The bridge is located on a highway that caters to a high number of heavy vehicles on a daily basis. Earlier, ASI had requested the traffic police to change the route taken by heavy vehicles but were told that it was not possible as it was a highway. ‘‘Another major problem is the relaying work carried out by civic agencies every year which results in increasing the road level by several inches,’’ said an official.