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A bridge corroded by hundreds of thousands of people spitting on it. Sounds like some sort of joke. However it turns out that the power of spit and gutkha has been able to undermine the structural strength of Howrah Bridge in Calcutta.
Its reported that ‘The steel bridge’s 78 steel hangers are being rapidly, dangerously corroded by spit laced with gutkha, a sweetened type of chewing tobacco that has become a national obsession, officials say.’
‘The thickness of the steel hoods protecting the hangers has eroded from six millimeters to an average of just three millimeters since 2007, when all of the hanger-base covers were replaced. The hangers were also fully recoated and restored in 2005.’
Some of that is due to normal weathering and some to vegetable and human waste, officials say. But most—by far—is due to the tons of gutkha-laced spit unloaded on the bridge every day from more than 100,000 drivers and 500,000 pedestrians. Newspapers say the local populace uses the bridge as a “giant spittoon.”
“Gutkha contains highly corrosive elements that erode even steel,” a senior port trust official told The Telegraph newspaper on Sunday (Jan. 9).