Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the Bogibeel bridge on December 25. The bridge is India’s longest rail-road bridge, and connects the north and south banks of the Brahmaputra. The Bogibeel bridge is located in the eastern part of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
“The PM will inaugurate the bridge on December 25 which is also marked by the government as Good Governance Day,” a senior railway official told PTI.
Bogibeel is part of infrastructure projects that India has planned 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, as well as new road and rail links over the river and its major tributaries such as the Dibang, Lohit, Subansiri, and Kameng.
While former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda laid the foundation stone for the Bogibeel bridge in January 1997, work on the bridge began only in April 2002 when former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee inaugurated the construction. The project missed several deadlines over the past 16 years, and the first freight train ran on it on December 3.
All you need to know about the Bogibeel bridge
The Bogibeel bridge spans 4.94 kilometres and is located just over 20 kilometres away from the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border. It is spread over the Brahmaputra river in the north eastern state of Assam between Dhemaji district and Dibrugarh district.
The bridge will connect the town of Dibrugarh in the south to Dhemaji to the river’s north. The bridge has two railway lines on its lower deck and a three-lane road bridge on the top.
The bridge was built at a cost of Rs 5,900 crore by the Indian Railways. It was developed with the objective to reduce travel time from Assam to Arunachal Pradesh to four hours and will also cut down train travel between Delhi to Dibrugarh by three hours.
Why was the project delayed?
After the foundation stone was laid in 1997 by then prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda, work in the project began in 2002 under the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government. The inauguration of the bridge will coincide with the 94th birth anniversary of Vajpayee, who passed away in August this year.
From 1997, the project has missed a number of deadlines and has been a victim of political unwillingness and red tapes despite being granted a national project status in 2007.
Changes to bridge design, revisions in the scope of the work, and construction technology has resulted in the cost of the project escalating from the initial estimate of Rs 1,767 crore to Rs 5,800 crore.
The challenge of building the bridge over a turbulent Brahmaputra river added to the delay since most of the crucial work could only be done during the November to March period.
How will the Bogibeel bridge benefit India?
The bridge will act as a lifeline to the Northeast region, and will reduce the distance by 165 kilometres from the north. It will also help in saving fuel worth Rs 10 lakh per day in the region.
The bridge will reduce travel time between Assam’s Tinsukia and Arunachal Pradesh’s Naharlagun by more than 10 hours. Additionally, it will connect the south bank of the Brahmaputra river in Assam’s Dibrugarh district with Silapathar in Dhemaji district, which shares its border with Arunachal Pradesh.
The Bogibeel bridge will connect NH (National Highway) 37 on the South Bank with NH 52 on the North Bank. The remote districts of Anjaw, Changlang, Lohit, Lower Dibang Valley, Dibang Valley, and Tirap of Arunachal Pradesh will also benefit from the bridge.
The Indian Army will be a prominent beneficiary after the bridge will help in quicker supply of logistical support from Assam to their posts at Kibithoo, Wallong, and Chaglagam, on the Arunachal-China border.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius