The bridge promotes pilgrimage by making it easier for the devotees to travel to the holy temple Image Source: India Today
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Shristy Kamal, Pune

On Sunday, PM Modi inaugurated Sudarshan Setu, also known as the Signature Bridge in Gujarat. The cable-stayed bridge runs between Okha and Beyt Dwarka in the Devbhumi Dwarka District.  It is an island located 3km off Okha. With a total length of 4,772 meters, the cable is 900 meters long and is Gujarat’s longest cable-stayed bridge. The four-lane bridge was constructed at a cost of Rs 978 crore, financed by the Union government. 

The bridge was part of the National Highway 51 running along the Saurashtra coast. It was constructed by the NH division of the Gujarat roads and building department. The contract for the bridge was given to a company based in Panchkula named S. P. Singla Construction Private Limited. The company gained recognition last June due to the collapse of the Aguwani-Sultanganj Ganga Bridge in Bihar, a project they were working on. This incident also marked the second collapse for the company within a year. 

Despite the incident, the government of Gujarat reassured the public, stating that the Signature bridge was near completion at the time when the Bihar bridge collapsed and that necessary actions would be taken if any incident happened. In October 2022, the Gujarat government demolished over 100 structures, which included homes, shops, and religious buildings, along the Bet Dwarka shoreline, citing “threat to national security” as the reason. Authorities stated that the buildings in the Paaj area were also among the ones that were taken down, and most of the buildings belonged to minorities. 

Bet Dwarka is the second largest island of the Gujarat coast after Diu and is situated at Una Coast in Gir Somnath. Covering an area of around 36 sq km, it has a population of about 10,000 and is a part of the Okha municipality. Before the construction of the bridge, their only mode of transportation between Bet Dwarka and Gujrat was the ferry boat service from Dwarka to Okha. The development of the Sudarshan Setu is an important development as it ensures that all the roads are well connected for proper and easy transportation. It also ensures proper transportation to the Shree Dwarkadhish Mukhya Mandir, a shrine dedicated to Lord Krishna that is a major religious pilgrimage spot. There are also other temples, a gurdwara, and mosques. The island depends mostly on fishing and tourism, which is mostly from the Hindu community as they visit for darshan at the Lord Krishna temple. 

The features of the bridge are unique. It is adorned with verses from the Bhagavad Gita and images of Lord Krishna on its pillars, which are supported by 32 pillars. The bridge allows the to-and-fro movement of fishing boats from the harbor, known as Dalda Bandar. The roofs have solar panels and 27-meter-wide walkways on either side of the bridge.