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World's tallest bridge at Kauri in Jammu constructed by Konkan Railways
The Chenab Bridge at Kauri across the Chenab River will surpass the height of the Mailo Bridge in France, currently the tallest in the world. Scheduled to be completed by December 2009, it is an engineering marvel, estimated to cost over Rs 600 crores.
THE WORLD'S tallest bridge is coming up at Kauri, a hamlet in Reasi district of Jammu province. A village that hardly anybody has ever heard of, it is now gearing up for being documented as home to the tallest bridge in the world. The bridge is being constructed by the Konkan Railways.  
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The Chenab Bridge at Kauri which surpasses the record height of the Mailo Road Bridge in France links Kauri and Bakkal hamlets. It is yet another engineering marvel from the Konkan railways and is an addition to its long list of accomplishments.
 
A product of Indian-European partnership and the flagship project of the Konkan Railways, the Chenab Bridge, as it would be designated on completion, would rise 359 metres above the bed of the mighty and tumultuous Chenab, with Kauri emerging as the centre of the country’s attraction in the process.
 
An engineering marvel, the 1315-metre long bridge is being constructed at an estimated cost of over Rs 600 crores across the Chenab River, which flows in a highly sensitive seismic zone. It would be completed by December 2009. What is remarkable about the project is the estimated 25,000 metric tonnes of steel used, most of which is of Grade C that can withstand a freezing -20 degree Celsius and avoid any crack that contraction can bring about. The railway project linking Kashmir is a matter of pride and prestige for the Indian railways.
 
Ishwar Chand, Deputy Chief Engineer of Konkan Railways said that the construction is indeed a challenging task, especially when one has to undertake it at a place which is totally inaccessible and is situated in what is topographically a hostile zone. The Konkan railways should construct a 118.87-km long road network to reach the designated spot at Kauri and this has delayed construction of the 5-year project.
 
Located at a height of 859 metres above sea level, Kauri, inhabited by around 25 families, lies in a region of scenic beauty. Surrounded on three sides by the Shivalik and Trikuta hills, Kauri lies on the plateau zone. The Chenab ensures that Kauri is full of charm and character     
 
The Konkan Railways has been meticulously monitoring each and every aspect of the project. After all, it is pioneering this challenging venture in India. For the Chenab Bridge venture, the Konkan Railways is not relying on any single agency; it is availing of the expertise of renowned players like Scott Wilson Kirk Patrick and Co and Flint and Neil, both of London - as proof consultants for the project. Similarly, KORTES of Finland, yet another pioneer in designing such projects, in collaboration with LAP of Germany, are acting as design consultants to the organization. Geotechnical consultancy has been sought from the scientists of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore and NIRM of Kolar. Even climatic feasibility is being factored in and expertise is being sought from FORCE Technology of Denmark for particularistic wind testing of tunnels to be constructed at both ends of the bridge.     
 
As if this is not enough, the Konkan Railways is promoting transparency in quality controls. To prolong the health of such projects by ascertaining every detail of it, it has enlisted the services of independent third-party inspection teams from IRS and TUV. These two agencies are well known for their credentials and ingenuity.    
 
Being constructed on the most difficult track of 71 Km in the Katra - Dharam section, the estimated cost of the whole section is over Rs. 8,000 crores. What is significant about this topographically-intricate terrain is that unlike other sections like Jammu - Udhampur or Udhampur - Katra where only a third of the area is under tunnels, the Katra - Dharam section would provide 80 percent of the linkages through long tunnels and as such would have only seven stations with nearly 50 bridges and 32 tunnels on it. These are being constructed with the help of the most sophisticated implants like road headers for tunnel excavations which have been imported from Europe.     
 
In constructing the project, for the first time in engineering history, the help of cable crane is also being sought; so far it has been used only in hydro-electric projects. Two cable cranes, for placing the decks, 17 metres wide, to enable two simultaneous tracks and trains to chug along them have been procured from SEIK, an Italian construction implant manufacturer.    
 
The project, like every development unit, would generate spin-off benefits for the hitherto neglected areas of the region. According to information available, nearly 50 percent of the workforce already employed is local. The construction of approach roads, causeways and minor bridges has brought hope to the people; benefits are bound to percolate down through the region.
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VAISHNO GOVERDHAN
highest bridge
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