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On 3rd Anniversary as PM, Modi's Double Bonanza for Assam

A 'workaholic' Prime Minister Narendra Modi will spend his government's third anniversary in the far North Eastern part of the country, inaugurating a state of the art bridge connecting Upper Assam, first state in North East where BJP came to power, to Eastern Arunachal Pradesh, a frontier state which shares its border with China.

Subhajit Sengupta | CNN-News18SubhajitSG

Updated:May 26, 2017, 11:22 AM IST
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On 3rd Anniversary as PM, Modi's Double Bonanza for Assam
A file image of PM Narendra Modi during a rally in Nagaon in Assam. (Photo: Reuters)

New Delhi: A 'workaholic' Prime Minister Narendra Modi begins his government's third anniversary in the far North Eastern part of the country, inaugurating a state of the art bridge connecting Upper Assam, first state in North East where BJP came to power, to Eastern Arunachal Pradesh, a frontier state which shares its border with China.

As BJP enters the election mode with the intent to capture newer ground, the symbolism of this entire event is not lost on anyone. The Prime Minister will then return to Guwahati and lay the foundation stone for the new All India Institute of Medical Sciences. For Assam, which voted BJP government to power exactly a year back, this is a double bonanza.

THE BRIDGE OF HOPE

Dhola-Sadiya bridge has been buit over the Lohit river, which is a tributary of the mighty Brahmaputra river. At 9.2 km it is the longest bridge of the country, over 3.55 km longer than the iconic Bandra-Worli sea link of Mumbai. As the name suggests the bridge will connect Sadia , which is about 540 kilometres from the state capital of Guwahati to Dhola, 300 kilometres from Itanagar, the capital of Arunachal.

For those living here this is certainly is a dream come true. After Kaliabhomora bridge near Tezpur, the Brahmaputra doesn't have a single bridge for the next 375 km upstream till Dhola, where the new bridge is constructed. Currently, all transportation between the river's two banks is carried out on ferries, which operate only during the day time. The situation becomes extremely difficult during the monsoon months, when Lohit constantly flows above the danger level.

The excitement is palpable at the venue, as hundreds have been lining up for days to catch a sight of the bridge and soak in the festive atmosphere. This bridge means the travel time between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh will go down by at least four hours. For Zinnia Baruah, a communication professional who hails from Tinsukia, this bridge means the birth of a new era in the growth and development in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. I still remember crossing the river during the monsoons, it was an ordeal. Our lives were at risk. With opening of the bridge, people like us will be able to commute safely and aspire for a better tomorrow.

STRATEGIC IMPORTANCE OF THE BRIDGE

The bridge is part of yet another project to shore up India’s defence infrastructure along the Sino-Indian border. This three-lane road is capable of withstanding the weight of a 60-tonne battle tank. By cutting down the travel time for the military bases in Assam, the bridge will improve the operational mobility of men and material to the troubled Sino-Indian border in Arunachal.

For long infrastructural projects were stalled in Arunachal to ensure that in case of a Chinese aggression, the lack of basic infra would slow down the invading army. But this theory was junked post 2000. This project began in 2011, when Congress government was there at both, state and the Centre.

The Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal told the media that the bridge "will bolster the road connectivity in the Northeast as the bridge will be used by people of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh besides defence forces extensively."

WEATHER A DAMPNER

Only thing that stands between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the inauguration of the Rs 2,056 crore bridge is the inclement weather. It has been raining constantly in Tinsukia, though the forecast is slightly better for today. Even on Thursday, the Chief Minister's chopper was delayed due to the overcast conditions.
The administration has been facing an uphill task to keep the temporary helipad and the adjoining kaccha roads in order. According to the PWD minister of Assam, Parimal Shuklabaidya, over 60,000 to 70,000 people are expected to turn up for the event. With constant thundershowers, road rollers and dumpers have their jobs cut out to keep another temporary approach road ready to shoulder the burden of the expected traffic.

POLITICS OVER THE BRIDGE

Former Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has criticised the BJP for appropriating a project started by the Congress. The former three-time Chief Minister has alleged that he was not even allowed to visit the site. "They did not allow me to go to the bridge saying that it is because of security concerns and law and order issues. Am I a terrorist? Will I break the laws? Why are they not allowing me to visit the bridge?" asked Gogoi.

The foundation of the bridge was laid down by the Congress government, the project has been completed by the BJP government and hence competition is on over who would take the credit. But for the residents, staying on the either side of the bridge, it means after 70 years of Independence they can finally hunk the two and a half hour long ferry ride and in less than 30 minutes drive to the other side of Brahmaputra.

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