Kolkata, Feb 11 IANS | 10 months ago

The British-era Howrah Bridge, Kolkata's iconic landmark that serves as a crucial gateway for the eastern metropolis and ferries hundreds of thousands of vehicles every day, is getting a fresh coat of paint after eight years.

The steel behemoth, also known as Rabindra Setu, which forms the crucial connect between the bustling eastern metropolis and Howrah district over the Hooghly river, is getting spruced up with a whopping 26,000 litres of lead-free paint.

"This is a routine paint job which is done after 5-6 years. The last time it was painted in 2005.

"The National Test House officials will check the quality of the paint, the thickness...and other crucial parameters," Chief Engineer A.K. Mehera of Kolkata Port Trust - the body responsible for maintenance of the bridge - told IANS.

The 26,500- tonne structure, which finds mention in Rudyard Kipling's works, was commissioned in 1943 replacing a pontoon bridge linking the two towns. It was the fourth longest cantilever suspension bridge in the world at that time.

Stretching for 2,150 feet and rising up to 280 feet from its foundation, the 'Gateway to Kolkata' ranks as the sixth longest now.

As many as 150 workmen will be involved in the task estimated to take six months. "Work has already begun," said Mehera.

Since the structure is exposed to environmental factors like pollution and weather changes, the first part of the mammoth job involves getting rid of the rust and old paint.

"This is followed by a primer which has anti-corrosive properties. Then aluminium paint will be applied for further protection, following which the final rubber-based paint will be applied...the shade will be steel, as before," he said.

Over the years, the bridge has become a symbol of Kolkata and featured in numerous films by Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak, Mrinal Sen, Raj Kapoor, Roland Joffe and Mira Nair. Shakti Samanta's Hindi film "Howrah Bridge" featuring the beautiful Madhubala was also a huge box office success.

(Posted on 11-02-2014)

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