December 26, 2018 2:33:33 am
In a Christmas Day gift for the North-East, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday inaugurated the country’s longest rail-cum-road bridge — the Bogibeel Bridge over the Brahmaputra river, near Dibrugarh in Assam — and said his government was committed to the development of the region.
The 4.94 km-long bridge, which connects the northern and southern banks of the Brahmaputra, from Dibrugarh to Dhemaji, is strategically important, as it is expected to play a crucial role in defence movement along the India-China border in Arunachal Pradesh, and boost trade and commerce activities.
The Bogibeel Bridge, which was a part of the Assam Accord, was approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) in September 1997. Work on the bridge began in 2002, under the then A B Vajpayee-led government.
The Congress-led UPA government had declared it a national project in 2007.
Blaming the UPA government for the delay in completing the project, Modi said if the Vajpayee-led government had come to power in 2004, the bridge would have been completed earlier. “The government which came next (in 2004) did not pay heed to your demands. After our government came to power in 2014, we removed all obstacles in the way,” he said.
Due to the delay in its implementation, the cost of the project escalated from the initial estimate of Rs 1,767 crore to
Rs 3,230 crore and then to Rs 5,920 crore. The total length of the bridge was also revised from the earlier 4.31 km to 4.94 km.
Modi said the bridge would be a boon in terms of defence, connectivity and trade and commerce. “The longest road bridge (Dhola to Sadiya in Tinsukia district) and the longest rail-road bridge are now on Assam’s soil. We are fortunate that we got the chance to complete both the projects,” he said. Modi added that his government’s goal is “transformation through transportation”.
“In the last four-and-a-half years, we have completed three bridges on the Brahmaputra,” said Modi, adding that the “pace of development” started by his government would put the North-East back on the path of development. “This is not only a bridge, but it is a lifeline for connecting lakhs of people in this region,” he said.
Both Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and Arunachal Chief Minister Pema Khandu were present at the event, where Modi also flagged off the first passenger train on the bridge.
Modi said a project worth Rs 70,000 crore to build 5,500 km of National Highway in the North-East was underway, of which 2,500 km has already been completed. He said work is on to connect the capital of every state in the North-East with broad gauge railway line.
The 4.5 km-long Digha-Sonpur rail-road bridge across the Ganga in Bihar was the longest such bridge till now.
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