Bogibeel: Shortly after inaugurating the country's longest rail-cum-road bridge, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday flagged off the first train on the Bogibeel Bridge in Assam's Dhemaji.
Speaking on the occasion, the PM said, ''About 16 years ago, Atal Ji came here. He had a vision for the development of the Bogibeel Bridge. This Bridge is also a tribute to that vision of Atal Ji. 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 Bogibeel Bridge is a lifeline for the people of Assam. It has enhanced connectivity between Assam and other parts of the nation. It will improve trade and boost the economy,'' PM Modi said.
While thanking all those who were involved in the construction of the historic Bridge, the PM said, ''Things have changed after May 2014 when topmost priority is being accorded to key projects. Delayed infra projects were adversely impacting India's development trajectory. When we assumed office, we added speed to these projects and worked towards their quick completion.'' ''The NDA govt is working on many more projects that will be launched in the coming days,'' the PM added. Attacking the erstwhile Congress-led UPA government, the PM accused the previous regime of neglecting the northeast and doing nothing for its development. ''Four years ago nobody would have imagined that a man who was involved in a helicopter scam would be brought to India. Our government managed to do it,'' the PM said in an apparent reference to alleged VVIP chopper scam middleman Christian Michel.
The Prime Minister earlier inaugurated the country's longest rail-cum-road bridge over the Brahmaputra river at Bogibeel near Dibrugarh in Assam.
The PM, who reached Dibrugarh in the afternoon from New Delhi, flew directly to Bogibeel in a chopper and dedicated the 4.94-km-long double-decker bridge to the nation from the south bank of the river.
After greeting people, standing on the foothold of his vehicle, PM Modi deboarded the car and walked a few metres on the bridge along with Assam Governor Jagdish Mukhi and Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal.
The PM crossed the bridge in his cavalcade to the north bank of Brahmaputra, where he flagged off the Tinsukia-Naharlagun Intercity Express.
The train will run five days a week. The 4.9-km bridge will cut down the train-travel time between Tinsukia in Assam to Naharlagun town of Arunachal Pradesh by more than 10 hours. The strategically important bridge, which begins at Dibrugarh and ends at Dhemaji districts of Assam, will remove communication bottlenecks to several districts of Arunachal Pradesh. The Bogibeel Bridge, which was a part of the Assam Accord and sanctioned in 1997-98, is also likely to play a crucial role in defence movement along the India-China border in Arunachal Pradesh. The foundation stone of the project was laid by former prime minister H D Deve Gowda on January 22, 1997, while work commenced on April 21, 2002, under the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led government. The Congress-led UPA government had declared it a national project in 2007.
December 25 happens to be Vajpayee's birth anniversary.
Due to the inordinate delay in its implementation, the cost of the project escalated by 85 per cent to Rs 5,960 crore from the sanctioned estimated cost of Rs 3,230.02 crore. The total length of the bridge was also revised to 4.94 km from the earlier 4.31 km. The bridge is part of the infrastructure projects planned by India to improve logistics along the border in Arunachal Pradesh.
"The bridge will enhance the national security of the eastern region by facilitating swift movement of defence forces and their equipment. It was constructed in such a way that even a fighter jet can land on it in case of emergency," a source said. A senior army official had earlier said the biggest advantage of the bridge will be the easy movement of troops from southern to northern bank.
"This means travelling to the farthest most point of India's border with China will be shortened by several hundred kilometers," he had said.
Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) Chief Public Relations Officer Pranav Jyoti Sharma had also said that the bridge will provide logistical support for the Indian Army manning the border. The road distance from Dibrugarh to Itanagar will be reduced by 150 km and the railway travel distance between these two points will shorten by 705 km, he had said. The bridge and the train will be a boon for the people of Dhemaji as major hospitals, medical colleges and airport are in Dibrugarh, the third-largest city in the Northeast.