Tata Iron and Steel Company provided 23,000 tons of steel for the construction of the bridge. This bridge is probably India’s first ‘Make in India’ project. The British did not have the policy of ‘hold the board and nail it’. So there is learning from them too.
There was only one bridge. But it was a pontoon bridge. Boat below, deck above. Opening system along the middle. 1528 feet long and 48 feet wide. Seven-foot sidewalk on either side. The bridge could be opened 200 feet in the middle of the bridge for navigation. The bridge is closed as soon as the steamer arrives. The steamer will pass by with a roar, after which the bridge will open again. Just like passing a train at a railway gate. Why or why not, the old Howrah Bridge was designed by Sir Bradford Leslie. Renowned engineer of railway company under British rule. He designed the big railway bridges of this country. For example, the Jubilee Bridge in Naihati. Mr. Leslie came from Britain and toured the bridge construction area. Go back and make the design.
How many stories of building bridges before him! The British administration first thought of a bridge in 1855-56. The committee was also formed. Because, in those days, the business of the whites was flourishing on both sides of the river. New factories are being built. So a bridge is needed for Howrah-Kolkata this time. Although the bridge committee started its practice in ’55, for some unknown reason, after four years, the proposal for the construction of the bridge was sent to the cold room in 1859-60. Even at that time, even if the government’s project was proposed, it would go cold. This was done in the case of the first proposal of Howrah Bridge. Eight years later, the file in that cold room is out again. That’s right, this time the bridge has to be built. The then Lieutenant Governor of Bengal decided that all the responsibility for the construction of the bridge would not be in the hands of the government directly. A trust was formed in 181. Under that trust, the construction of the first floating bridge in Howrah was entrusted to him.
The Golden Quadrilateral project was implemented under the Prime Ministership of Atal Behari Vajpayee. Tolls were introduced to run on expressways across the country. Now toll has been imposed on many state roads. But when the Little Lat of Bengal made the Howrah Bridge Act in 181, the toll was levied on the bridge. The maintenance work of the bridge was carried out with the toll money. After the law was passed in ’71, Sir Leslie was given the task of building the bridge. He returned to Billet and began building the deck of the bridge and the floating plane ‘boat’. The goods reached the port of Calcutta by ship. The first Howrah Bridge was then built across the decks one after the other on a flat boat. There was also an arrangement to open 200 feet in the middle. The bridge was opened to traffic in 184. In other words, what the British administration had planned in 1755 was implemented 19 years later.
Interestingly, at that time Mr. Leslie’s company had to pay 22 lakh rupees to build the pontoon bridge. But the total toll collected from the bridge was 34 lakh 11 thousand rupees. In a nutshell, the British administration also benefited from the bridge. At least one and a half lakh rupees toll was collected at that time. However, the biggest obstacle to the floating bridge was the arrangement of ship-steamer travel. As soon as the ship left, the bridge would be closed to traffic. The traffic congestion also increased during most of the day. Because the bridge could only be opened during the day. This system lasted till 1906. Arrangements were made to open the bridge for the ship at night after that. In the past, the bridge had to be opened 24 times a day. If the bridge was opened only four times a day, the work would be completed. According to port documents, 3,020 ships, steamers and launches passed through the middle of the Howrah Bridge in 1906-07. However, the traffic jam was not resolved even though night shipping was arranged. As a result, the British administration felt the need to build a new bridge at Howrah from that time on.
A new bridge was being considered in the last part of the nineteenth century. One of the reasons was the impact of the bullock cart on the Howrah Bridge. According to the port documents, on August 26, 1908, it was seen that when 13 vehicles were passing through the bridge, all eight of them were bullock carts! The pontoon bridge was 48 feet wide. But in reality, more than 43 feet could not be used for driving. On the other hand, the port commissioner was in a daze due to the heavy pressure of bullock carts. He called a meeting and proposed a new bridge. A committee is formed. John Scott, chief engineer of the port, RS Height, chief engineer of the Eastern Railway, and McCabe, chief engineer of the Calcutta Municipality, were members of the committee. The idea began, to build a cantilever bridge instead of a floating bridge.
Sir Leslie did not like this plan at all. Because, until then, only three cantilever bridges have been built in the world. He did not want to experiment with new technology in India. In the meantime, in 1917, the Canterbury Bridge in Canada, built using cantilever technology, collapsed. Mr. Leslie voted in favor of a new floating bridge. The port commissioner had the same opinion. This is because shipping from Britain was more important than transporting cattle on the bridge near the port.