INDIA’S LONGEST AND ASIA’S 2ND LARGEST BRIDGE
Prime Minister Sri. Narendra Modi Ji, to inaugurate India’s longest rail-road bridge and Asia’s second largest bridge called “THE BOGIBEEL BRIDGE” in Assam on December 25th, 2018. This is going to connect the north and south banks of the Brahmaputra, falling in the eastern part of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. The ceremony to mark the opening of the bridge coincides with the 94th birthday anniversary of the former Prime Minister Sri. Atal Bihari Vajpayee who passed away in August. The prime Minster will inaugurate the bridge on December 25th which is also marked by the Government as the” Good Governance Day”.
DETAILS OF THE BRIDGE
The overpass constructed by railways, is in Assam and is a combined road and rail bridge 32 metres above the water level of River Brahmaputra, precisely between the districts of Dhemaji and Dibrugarh. The bridge is 4.94-km long. It will be the second largest bridge in Asia with three lane roads on top and a double line railway track below. Bogibeel is part of infrastructure projects planned by India to improve logistics along the border in Arunachal Pradesh. This includes the construction of a trans-Arunachal highway on the north bank of the Brahmaputra and new road and rail links over the mighty river and its major tributaries such as Dibang, Lohit, Subansiri and kameng.
Bogibeel bridge will reduce inter-state travel time, between Arunachal Pradesh and Assam. It is believed that this route will help the people of Arunachal Pradesh by saving their time on commuting to Southern Assam. As of now, a train journey from Arunachal Pradesh to Assam’s Dibrugarh required a 500 km detour via Guwahati. After the bridge becomes functional, the distance will be reduced by 100 km. Bogibeel Bridge will cut down the train travel time between Tinsukia in Assam to Naharlagun town of Arunachal Pradesh by more than 10 hours. It is also a key infrastructure for defence of the north eastern border. The 14-coach chair-car train will depart from Tinsukia in the afternoon and leave from Naharlagun the next morning. Built by the Indian Railways, the double-decker bridge has two railway lines on the lower deck and a three-lane road on the upper, strong enough to withstand movement of heavy military tanks.
Strategic importance of Bogibeel, is that India and China share a nearly 4000-km border. The connectivity that Bogibeel provides is also strategically important for the movement of troops to Arunachal Pradesh bordering China. While considering the history and timeline of the Bogibeel Bridge, while former Prime Minister Sri. HD Deve Gowda laid the foundation stone for the Bogibeel Bridge in January 1997, the work started only in April 2002, when former Prime Minister Sri. Atal Bihari Vajpayee inaugurated the construction. According to certain local north-eastern dailies, however, in the year 1962 Dibrugarh Nagarik Sangha is alleged to have first raised the demand to construct a bridge to connect Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. Meanwhile in August, BJP Dibrugarh MLA Prasanta Phukan, had demanded to rename the Bogibeel Bridge as the “ATAL SETU”. With several deadlines having been missed over the past 16 years, the first freight train ran on it on December 3rd. First sanctioned at a cost of Rs. 3,230.02 crores, the cost of the Bogibeel Bridge was later revised to Rs. 4857 crores, mainly due to cost escalation and increase in its length to nearly 5 km as against 4.31km proposed earlier.
Mr. Gogoi, said, “I was in school when late Prime Minister Sri. Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ji came here to inaugurate the construction work. Over the years this bridge has been our dream, it is an outcome of several protests, struggle and is a major boost to this part of northeast”.
Sri. Pranav Jyoti Sarma, CPRO of Northeast Frontier Railways, said, “Hailed as an engineering marvel, the Bogibeel Bridge is also a key infrastructure for the defence of the north eastern border. Bridging the Brahmaputra is in itself is challenging. It is a high rainfall area and falls in the seismic zone. This is a bridge which is unique in many ways. It is the longest in the country”.
The main advantage is that, this bridge will boost connectivity for around five million people residing in Upper Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. In a surprise move, an intimation comes at the eleventh hour that “due to security reasons and on an advisory issued by Special Protection Group (SPG) primarily engaged in the security of present and former Prime Ministers, no media persons from any regional or national media houses will be allowed to cover the Bogibeel Bridge inauguration programme, except of course, Government Media. Now the fact remains, people will have to rely on Doordarshan and All India Radio to know the goings on of the grand inauguration of the BOGIBEEL BRIDGE.
VIAYASHREE RAMESH, CHENNAI BASED ADVOCATE.