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Tuesday, December 25, 2018

PM Shri Narendra Modiji inaugurates monumental Bogibeel Bridge

The Chutiya Kingdom  (1187-1673),   a state established by one of the Chutiya chieftains named Birpal in 1187 CE in the areas comprising the present-day Indian states of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh is in news today.  It was the largest kingdom in Assam after the fall of Kamrupa and before the rise of Ahom kingdom. The kingdom absorbed the ancient Pala dynasty of Kamarupa and reigned for over 400 years in eastern Assam and Arunachal Pradesh with its capital at Sadiya and Ratnapur.  One may not know History, but how many of the political pundits still remember Assam Accord ?

The Assam Accord (1985) was a Memorandum of Settlement (MoS) signed between representatives of the Government of India and the leaders of the Assam Movement in New Delhi on 15 August 1985.   A six-year agitation demanding identification and deportation of illegal immigrants was launched by the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) in 1979. It culminated with the signing of the Assam Accord.  Though the accord brought an end to the agitation, some of the key clauses  were not implemented and one important aspect culminated today.  For those not so well informed the signatories were : Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, Bhrigu Kumar Phukan – RD Pradhan, PP Trivedi in the presence of the then PM of India, Mr Rajiv Gandhi. 

Today is historically significant as Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modiji  opened the Bogibeel railroad bridge in Assam,  India's longest railroad bridge. Its foundation was laid in 1997. The five-kilometre structure spans the waters of the mighty Brahmaputra River. Bogibeel bridge connects  Assam's Dibrugarh and Dhemaji districts, bordering Arunachal Pradesh. It will cut the travel time between the two points by four hours and help avoid a 170-km detour. With its proximity to the China border, the bridge also has tremendous significance for India's defence and has been built strong enough to support the movement of tanks and even fighter jet landings.  

            Designed like a bridge that links Sweden and Denmark, the Bogibeel Bridge is India's only fully-welded bridge for which European codes and welding standards were followed. A fully welded bridge has a low maintenance cost, its engineers say. The bridge, which also happens to be Asia's second longest rail-and-road connector, has a lifespan of around 120 years, authorities have said. 3.   The bridge has a two-line railway track on the lower deck and a three-lane road on the top deck. It will reduce the Delhi to Dibrugarh train travel time by about three hours.  The 4.9 km-long bridge was constructed at an estimated cost of Rs. 5,900 crore - exceeding its initial budget of about Rs. 3,200 crore and originally planned length of 4.31 km.

            The foundation stone of the project was laid by former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda on January 22, 1997, while work began on April 21, 2002 under the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led government. December 25 happens to be Vajpayee's birth anniversary.  The bridge will be a massive help for residents of the remote districts of Anjaw, Changlang, Lohit, Lower Dibang Valley, Dibang Valley and Tirap in Arunachal Pradesh besides the Dibrugarh and Dhemaji districts in Assam.

The Bogibeel bridge traces its origins to the Assam Accord of 1985 and was one of several major infrastructural projects to be set up in Assam in accordance with the pact.   Though it  was sanctioned by the Government of India in 1997-98 and was expected to be completed by the end of the Ninth Five Year Plan with foundation laid in Jan 1997 by  the then PM Mr  H.D.Deva Gowda; it did not take off and its  construction was inaugurated only in 2002 by Prime Minister Sri A.B. Vajpayee.  After several years of slow progress, the Bogibeel bridge was granted a national project status by the Government of India in 2007 by Prime Minister  Mr Manmohan Singh. It has come a reality  in Sri Modiji era.

Modiji inaugurated the bridge and addressed a rally – said ,  : "We have changed the earlier 'latkane bhatkane' (dilly-dallying) work culture... Completion of projects within a time frame is no longer confined to paper but has become a truth in the real sense.” He added, “If Vajpayee had a second term, Bogibeel Bridge would have been ready by 2008-09. After his government, no attention was paid to the project till 2014.”  Asserting that the Bogibeel Bridge will strengthen the country's defence prowess with movement of vehicles and trains, he said, it is not only a bridge, it is a lifeline for crores of people in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. Prime Minister flagged off the Tinsukia-Naharlagun Intercity Express, which will run five days a week and use the 4.9-km bridge to cut down the train-travel time between Tinsukia in Assam to Naharlagun town of Arunachal Pradesh by more than 10 hours. Itanagar, the capital of Arunachal Pradesh is just over 15 km from Naharlagun.

Really a good day (ache din!) for the Nation.
With regards – S. Sampathkumar
25th Dec 2018.

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