Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the Dhola-Sadiya bridge over the Lohit river — a tributary of Brahmaputra — on Friday. The bridge is considered the longest in India and will improve road connectivity between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
Incidentally, Friday will also mark the third anniversary of the Modi government and comes two days after the Assam government of Sarbananda Sonowal completed a year in office. Sonowal on Wednesday invited Modi to inaugurate India's longest bridge.
The bridge will be the fourth over Brahmaputra river after Saraighat, Kolia Bhomora and Bogibeel (nearing completion).
Here are the key details about the bridge and its significance in the context of improving connectivity in the North East. "The bridge will fill a huge connectivity gap that has existed in the region," IANS quoted a statement from the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.
Built at a cost of Rs 2,096 crores, construction of the bridge began in 2010, when there was a Congress government at the Centre as well as in Assam. However, the groundwork for the project had begun in 2002, under the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government. (Watch the video below).
The project was constructed as part of a public-private partnership between the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and a Vishakapatnam-based private construction company, Navayuga Engineering Company.
The 9.15 kilometre-long bridge is expected to be a boon to the residents of Sadiya, situated on the northern bank of Lohit, which has been isolated from the rest of the state, The Indian Express reported.
The bridge, which is 3.55 kilometre longer than Mumbai's Bandra-Worli Sea Link, is considered strategically located for two reasons.
Firstly, the bridge is close to Arunachal Pradesh — a frontier state bordering China.
The Indian Express report added that in the absence of the bridge, it would take eight to 10 hours for anyone to travel from Anjaw in eastern Arunachal Pradesh to Assam's Tinsukia or Dibrugarh. With the new bridge, Arunachal residents can reach Tinsukia and Dibrugarh faster.
The people of Sadiya too are happy about the development as they have to generally depend on ferries to travel to Dhola, which is situated on the southern bank of the river, from where they travel to Dibrugarh and Tinsukia.
“I am happy that we will have an architectural marvel in Sadiya that will be of some advantage to the army, but I am happier that it will solve a longstanding problem of the people of the sub-division. While the ferry ride between Dhola and Sadiya takes over two hours, by road it will now be a 30-minute ride. It will change our life, we will save a lot of time and energy every day,” Noren Sutia, a Sadiya resident told The Wire.
“Besides improving the life of the people of Sadiya, this bridge will change the economy of many remote parts of Arunachal," Prasanta Sagar Sangmai, Sadiya superintendent of police, told the publication.
The Ministry said the new bridge promises to usher in prosperity in the northeastern region and would provide efficient road connectivity to the remote and backward areas which have poor road infrastructure.
"This bridge will also give a major boost to overall economic development of the areas north of Brahmaputra in upper Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
"It will also cater to the strategic requirements of the country in the border areas of Arunachal Pradesh, besides facilitating numerous hydro power projects coming up in the state," the statement added.
Secondly, the bridge will help the army convoys to cut their travel time by three to four hours.
The North East is militarily important in lieu of its long border with arch-rival China. With an Air Force base in Tezpur and important army units like the 181 Brigade and the 2 Mountain Division, which are placed in Assam, the bridge will be military significant at times of war.
This will help improve the operational mobility of men and materiel at the time of any war with China.
Notably, the bridge can withstand a military tank of at least 60 kilo-tonnes. Since northeast is in a high-seismic region, the bridge has been provided seismic buffers in all its 182 piers.
The benefit of the soon-to-be-inaugurated bridge can be gauged by the fact that in the absence of it, the army has to undertake over 10 hours of tedious journey on boat to reach eastern Arunachal Pradesh.
Notwithstanding the benefits that the common man will enjoy from the bridge, the Congress has criticised the BJP for appropriating the project.
Former chief minister Tarun Gogoi alleged on Wednesday that he is not being allowed to go to the site.
"They did not allow me to go to the bridge saying that it is because of security concerns and law and order issues. Am I a terrorist? Will I break the laws? Why are they not allowing me to visit the bridge?" questioned Gogoi, who himself enjoys 'Z Plus' security cover, reported PTI.
The Congress government had laid the foundation, carried out the construction and completed the bridge on Brahmaputra river but now the BJP was trying to take all the credit by inaugurating it with much fanfare, he said.
"It is like we planted a tree, nurtured it, but now they are eating the fruits. Let them. But can't I even come and see my tree?" asked the veteran Congress leader.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: May 26, 2017 16:25:36 IST