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Bogibeel bridge: Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'gift' to nation may be bogged down by trouble with land rates

Called Bogibeel, or white wetland, it’s to be Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ‘Christmas gift’ to the nation and Assam and Arunachal Pradesh in particular: India’s longest road-cum-rail bridge over the Brahmaputra. All that is very good, but the Bogibeel bridge appears to be bogged down in land rate issues even before Modi has cut the ribbon above the subcontinent’s mightiest stream.

“There is a dispute on the rates for certain land plots acquired to build the Bogibeel bridge,” said a top central official familiar with the issue. “So, in all probability, we may have to grant higher rates to claim the land. We have called a meeting to resolve the issue and decide the rate.” The official stressed that the issue is “minor”, and it cannot hinder the plans.

File photo of Bogibeel bridge. Wikimedia Commons

File photo of Bogibeel bridge. Wikimedia Commons

That meeting will take place on 10 December. Meanwhile, goods trains have started their trial runs on the bridge. It has been widely reported that Modi will inaugurate the around Rs 4,800-crore bridge on 25 December. At 4.94 kilometres in length, the bridge connecting Dibrugarh on the south bank of the Brahmaputra with Dhemaji in the north, along the foothills of Arunachal Pradesh, is touted to be the second longest rail-cum-road bridge in Asia.

The superlative nature of this construction comes from a policy reversal on not developing critical infrastructure in areas close to the Chinese border. India has also started building all-weather roads linking border areas in the North East. The plans for a rail-cum-road bridge near Bogibeel first found mention in the Assam Accord, signed in 1985. Work on the bridge started in 2002, and it has taken 16 years to near completion.

The bridge, closely modelled on the 7.8-kilometre Oresund bridge that connects Sweden and Finland across the Oresand strait, will be a huge force multiplier for the Indian military in case of a possible face-off with China. Designed to withstand up to 80 tonnes of weight, even the heaviest of Indian tanks — the Arjun MK II main battle tank — will be able to easily cross the huge river. It also enables rapid insertion of men and material in the likely battle zone.

The bridge will effectively cater to India’s three-pronged aim of ushering greater connectivity for trade and prosperity, ensure socio-economic development and growth of backward regions, and enhance military preparedness and capability in the northeastern region, which shares a long and largely un-demarcated border with China.

On 26 May, 2017, the longest bridge in India, the 9.1-kilometre Dhola-Sadiya bridge over the Lohit (a tributary of the Brahmaputra) was opened to the public. The bridge is built to withstand up to 60 tonnes of weight. Across the northern border, China has built 11 bridges across the Yarlung Tsangpo, as the Brahmaputra is known in Tibet.


Updated Date: Dec 06, 2018 22:08 PM

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