On 25th December, 2018 India woke up to the news of Bogibeel bridge — India’s longest rail-cum-road bridge — all set to be thrown open to traffic by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Mirroring the Christmas gift giving tradition, this news is nothing but a gift from the Indian government to the locals living in lesser developed districts of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh and also for other fellow travellers as it will ease out inconvenience caused to people living on the northern side of Brahmaputra.
The first train from Tinsukia in south bank to Naharlagun in Arunachal Pradesh in north bank was flagged off by PM Modi. This ceremony coincided with the 94th birth anniversary of the former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee (passed away in August of last year), who inaugurated the construction in 2002.
THE LONG OF IT:
- The Bridge is 4.94-km long and has a serviceable period of around 120 years.
- It will be Asia’s second longest rail-cum- road bridge and India’s longest with three-lane roads on top and a double-line railway track below.
- It is also India’s first & only fully welded bridge construction. In a first time ever European codes and welding standards were adhered to in the construction of the bridge.
- Travel time of Assam to Arunachal Pradesh will be reduced by four hours. The train travel time between Delhi and Dibrugarh would also be reduced by 3 hours and the journey could now be completed in 34 hours as against 37 hours presently.
- The bridge is also strategically important for the movement of troops to Arunachal Pradesh and will enhance defence logistics along China Border.
- It is constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 5,900 crore and is situated 17 km downstream of Dibrugarh city in Assam.
- The Bridge can withstand earthquakes of more than 7.0 magnitude on the Richter scale.
- Colleges and universities like the Assam Medical College and the famed Dibrugarh University can now be accessed easily by students & patients who earlier have to cross the river by boat.
But before the inauguration the bridge was embroiled in a string of controversies as well.
THE SHORT OF IT:
- 16 years after the first foundation stone was laid, the project missed several deadlines which increased the project’s cost by more than threefold from the initial estimate of Rs 1,767 crore to Rs 5,800 crore.
- A massive debate broke out over the name of the bridge and there were a lot of claimants. Lot of communities staged massive protests over the name, with even a section of BJP leaders who wanted it to be named as Atal Setu after former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee had inaugurated its construction.
- Just like other other infrastructure projects, the Bogibeel project was entangled in a bureaucratic red tape which can explain the duration the project took for its completion.
But with all said and done, Bogibeel and its bridge will now serve as a concrete symbol of effort to develop infrastructure in the North-East, enhance defence logistics along the Sino-Indian border and is poised to usher winds of change in this part of the world.