The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs last week approved the construction of a four-lane bridge over the Brahmaputra. It will be the country’s longest, and will boost connectivity and commerce in the region.
How the bridge helps
At 19.28 km, it will connect Dhubri in Assam to Phulbari in Meghalaya. It is projected to reduce the travel distance between these two places from 205.3 km to 19.282 km, and travel time from 5 hours to 20 minutes.
“As of now, the only means of going directly from Dhubri to Phulbari is by boat. It takes approximately 3 hours, and while returning it takes 5 hours against the current. This will come down to 25-30 minutes at the most after the bridge comes up,” Bikash Sarma, information and public relations officer of Dhubri district, told The Indian Express.
A Press Information Bureau (PIB) statement said the alignment will augment the transport network for the Northeast region, by providing the shortest link connecting western Meghalaya, as well as the southern NE states of Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura, with the rest of the country.
The current longest road and rail-road bridges of the country are already over the Brahmaputra. The Dhola-Sadiya bridge (road) runs 9.15 km, and the Bogibeel bridge (rail-road) is 4.94 km.
The Brahmaputra, running 670 km in Assam, is extremely wide at some places. “It is the narrowest in Guwahati, say about 1 km, and the widest in Dibrugarh, over 15 km stretching to 20 km,” Dulal Chandra Goswami, former head of environment studies at Gauhati University, said. “Assam is bisected by the Brahmaputra and it numerous tributaries. Naturally, people are handicapped when they have no means to cross the river. Bridges will be immensely helpful since distances will be reduced by hundreds of kilometres,” Prof Goswami said.
Inaugurating the Bogibeel bridge in 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said three bridges over the Brahmaputra were completed in the last four-and-a-half years and another five were being built.
The bridge will be built under the North-East Road Network Connectivity Project with loan assistance from Japan International Cooperation Agency. The PIB statement said construction would cost Rs 3,548 crore, and the total capital cost would be Rs 4,997.04 crore. Construction is expected to be completed in approximately six years.
In December, Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways Mansukh Mandaviya had told Lok Sabha that construction was scheduled to be taken up during 2019-20.
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