Building bridges

about 2 years ago
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The company that built the Howrah Bridge in Kolkata in 1935 is finally seeing colours beyond red. If you thought Braithwaite Burn and Jessop Construction Company (BBJ), the bridge makers would be raking in the moolah by building this iconic bridge, you could not be more wrong.

While the bridge has today come to represent Kolkatta, withstanding the trials and tribulations of time, BBJ suffered massive financial problems and its net worth was fully eroded, moving it into obscurity. The company could not participate in any government tender as a small Rs.3.88 crore loan had increased to Rs.54.61 crore due to non payment, wiping out BBJ’s entire money.  It is said that the company suffered so much because its promoters, Braithwaite, Burn Standard and Jessop were more interested in securing orders for more bridges and not thinking about the financial aspect. Ultimately, the company was taken over by the Government in 1987 and referred to the Board for Reconstruction of Public Sector Enterprises (BRPSE).

After a long period of darkness, BBK finally saw light during 2005-05 when the government decided to revamp all its early steel bridges and construct new ones on Rivers Ganga, Mahanadi and Kosi. BBJ’s net worth finally turned positive and last year, the company made Rs.5 crore profit.  It was a long wait but finally, the company got its due.

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