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Dhola-Sadia bridge, India's longest, set to open in Assam – proximity to China makes it strategically important

25 May, 2017 11:01 AM
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Dhola-Sadia bridge, India's longest, set to open in Assam – proximity to China makes it strategically important

Sadia: On the occasion of National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government's three years in office, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will on Friday (May 26, 2017) inaugurate India's longest bridge in Assam close to the border with China.

The 9.15 km bridge over the mighty Brahmaputra river will link Sadia in Assam and Dhola in Arunachal Pradesh. It is 3.55 km longer than the Bandra-Worli sea link (5.6 km) in Mumbai, making it the longest bridge in India.

The bridge which links Dhola to Sadia -- located near the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border -- in Assam`s Tinsukia district, will cut travel time from over six hours to just one hour. Notably, Sadia is the birthplace of music legend Dr Bhupen Hazarika.

Capable of withstanding the weight of a 60-tonne battle tank, the bridge is seen as an attempt by India to shore up its defence requirements along the Sino-Indian border, particularly in the Northeast, besides providing an easy access to the people of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam with air and rail connectivity.

Army convoys will now require less time to travel from Assam to the posts along the India-China border in Arunachal Pradesh.

Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal had earlier said that the Dhola-Sadia bridge “would not only ease the hardship of the people of Sadia but also fulfil a vital requirement in terms of the country's defence perspective as Arunachal Pradesh shares boundary with China.”

Talking to Indian Express, Brigadier (retired) Ranjit Borthakur, meanwhile, said that the bridge will be extremely helpful to the Army.

“The bridge will immensely help the Army in swift mobilisation and movement of troops and heavy equipment to the frontier areas. The Army had been pressing for this bridge for a long time,” said Borthakur.

The construction of the bridge commenced in 2011 at a project cost of Rs 950 crore. It is located 540 km away from Assam capital Dispur and 300 km away from Arunachal Pradesh capital Itanagar. The aerial distance to the Chinese border is less than 100 km.

The bridge is the fourth over Brahmaputra river after Saraighat, Kaliabhomora, and Bogibeel (nearing completion).

Since northeast is in a high seismic region, the bridge has been provided seismic buffers in all its 182 piers.

Till now, the only means to cross the Brahmaputra in the location was through ferry only in day time, and even this was not possible during the floods, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways said.

"The bridge will also reduce the distance from Rupai on NH-37 in Assam to Meka/Roing on NH-52 in Arunachal Pradesh by 165 km," it added.

"The travel time between the two places will come down from the current six hours to just one hour - a total five-hour reduction," the Ministry said. This would lead to Rs 10 lakh worth saving of petrol and diesel per day.

The Ministry said the new bridge promises to usher in prosperity in the northeastern region and would provide efficient road connectivity to the remote and backward areas, which have poor road infrastructure.

"This bridge will also give a major boost to the overall economic development of the areas north of Brahmaputra in Upper Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.

"It will also cater to the strategic requirements of the country in the border areas of Arunachal Pradesh, besides facilitating numerous hydropower projects coming up in the state," the statement added.

As there is no civilian airport in Arunachal Pradesh, this bridge will help people of the state to reach the nearest rail head in Tinsukia and the airport in Dibrugarh easily.

As per Assam CM Sonowal, the delayed works of the bridge was expedited after Modi assumed the charge in 2014. The bridge was originally scheduled to open in 2015.

The bridge is one of the key projects of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways in the Northeast and is built in public-private partnership with a construction company.


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