Assam’s Bogibeel Bridge, India’s Longest Rail-cum-Road Bridge will open to traffic

PM Modi to Inaugurate Assam’s Bogibeel Bridge

Assam’s after a long wait for the ‘Bogibeel Bridge’ — the longest rail-cum-road bridge — will end when PM Modi inaugurated today. Significantly, The foundation stone for Assam’s Bogibeel Bridge, it is only today that the double-decker rail-and-road bridge will open to traffic. Setup as India’s longest railroad bridge, 4.9km structure spans the waters of the mighty Brahmaputra River. It will connect Assam’s Dibrugarh and Dhemaji districts, bordering Arunachal Pradesh. And it will cut the travel time between the two points by four hours and help avoid a 170-km detour. 

Here are the main pointers of the prime minister’s speech:

-The inauguration of the Bogibeel Bridge is a historic feat and I am glad to be here in Assam, among you all on this special day.

-The people of Assam have made a strong contribution towards the development of our nation.

-Several stalwarts from Assam were involved in the freedom struggle as well.

-I am in Assam on the day we mark the Jayanti of our beloved Atal Ji.

-Atal Ji gave great importance to good governance.

-Good governance is all about strong and inclusive growth.

PM Narendra Modi flags off the New Tinsukia – Naharlaugn Express linking Naharlagun in Arunachal pradesh to Tinsukia in Assam. 

Although, It is witnessed various protests and missed deadlines, will not only improve connectivity between the banks of the mighty Brahmaputra River, but it also help the economic development of the same region and strengthen the defence movement along the India-China frontiers. The Bogibeel Bridge, an offshoot of the Assam Movement which culminated with the signing of the Assam Accord in 1985, is also recognised as Asia’s second-longest bridge with three-lane roads on top and a double line rail below.

SAIL steel for Bogibeel Bridge

Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) has supplied around 35400 metric tonnes of steel for the construction of Bogibeel Road-cum-Rail Bridge on the river Brahmaputra. This quantity is little more than 50% of the total quantity of steel supplied for the bridge.

SAIL has also supplied TMT rebars, plates and structural for this 4.94 KM long bridge,which has composite welded steel truss girders in its structures. Earlier, SAIL had supplied 90% steel for the construction of the Dhola-Sadiyabridge, which is India’s longest bridge. The 4.9 km-long bridge on the Brahmaputra river is Asia’s second longest rail-cum-road bridge. It has a serviceable period of 120 years. Added, Ministry of Steel, Government of India.

Meanwhile, Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal has said that, “This bridge is a dream come true. It will not only connect Dhemaji and Dibrugarh districts, the north and south banks of Brahmaputra River, but will also play a major role in the economic growth of the region, strengthen security and boost connectivity for the people of neighbouring Arunachal Pradesh.” While Former Assam chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta has said that, “It has been a long-pending demand of the people of the region and I feel glad that it has become a reality now.” 

It will Sanctioned on January 22, 1997, then former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda had laid the foundation stone for the bridge. The construction of bridge began only after former PM Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee inaugurated the work site on April 21, 2002. The inauguration ceremony of the same coincides with the 94th birth anniversary of Vajpayee on Dec 25, 2018 who passed away in August this year.

Read Also, Narendra Modi pays tributes to Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee on his Jayanti

Following the reports, Remembering the struggle to include the Bogibeel Bridge project in the railway budget under the Deve Gowda-led government, Birendra Prasad Baishya, Lok Sabha MP from Asom Gana Parishad (1996–97), said: “The railway budget had no mention of the bridge initially. But we vehemently demanded it in the cabinet meeting ahead of placing the railway budget. Only then did the railway ministry agreed to our demands.”

Read Also, PM pays tributes to Pt. Madan Mohan Malaviya on his Jayanti

Subsequently, the Bogibeel Bridge was granted a national project status in 2007. Expected to be completed by 2009, several deadlines were missed leading to a massive cost escalation of the project from approximately Rs 1,700 crore to almost Rs 5,000 crore.

“This bridge is part of infrastructure projects 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,” a defence official argued. So far, troops moving between Dhemaji and Dibrugarh were travelling over 500km via the Kaliabhomora Bridge in Sonitpur to reach the other side.

Being built in prime location, the bridge also carries strategic importance to India by significantly enhancing its ability to transport troops and supplies to its border with Tibet in Arunachal Pradesh. India and China share a nearly 4,000 km-long border, with almost 75 per cent in Arunachal Pradesh.

On October 22, Union minister Piyush Goyal has termed it a historic event for Indian Railways when the first trial train journey on the bridge was conducted from Dhamalgaon railway station in Dibrugarh to Tangani railway station of Dhemaji. The Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) piloted the first freight train on December 2.

Read Also, Bogibeel bridge: New bus services add to bonanza in Assam

The NF Railway has announced to introduce two new Intercity Express trains connecting Tinsukia and Naharlagun via the new bridge. While one train will run five days in a week, another will run weekly. The trains will have stoppages at New Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Dhamalgaon, Dhemaji, Gogamukh, North Lakhimpur and Harmuti during the journey on both ways. The train will have one AC chair car and nine second class day coach with sitting accommodation.

On an average, around 28 boats, including two government ferries, were plying between the two banks every day. The bridge will reduce the commute time from around 90 minutes via water to less than 20 minutes by road.

Meanwhile, the bridge also faced a battle over its possible name. At least seven names were suggested by various groups of Assam. While the Sutia community leaders have been demanding that it be named after their dynasty queen Sati Sadhini, the Tai-Ahom community insisted that the bridge should be named after Chaolong Siu-ka-Pha who founded the Ahom kingdom in Assam in 1228.

Deori and Mising, the two indigenous tribal communities also pressed for naming the bridge after their leaders — Bhimbor Deuri and Swahid Kamala Miri. The name of British philanthropist John Berry White, who played a major role in medical facilities, rail and road communication in Assam almost a century ago, was also pitched.

Further, the outfit of United Liberation Front of Asom (Independent) too proposed to name it after Assam’s cultural icons such as Bishnu Prasad Rabha and Jyoti Prasad Agarwala. After inauguration, PM Modi is expected to take a 5km ride on the road bridge to the other side, Dhemaji, and flag off the New Tinsukia-Naharlagun intercity express linking Naharlagun in Aruanchal pradesh to Tinsukia in Assam.

Trilok Singh

Written by Trilok Singh

Founder and CEO: Youth Darpan Media, IASmind.com, India's Journal and Seva A2z (Shopping). Masters in Political Science, Kirori Mal College, Faculty of Social Science (2015-17), University of Delhi, India.

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