India waits for the longest road-rail bridge
The Brahmaputra was till 1962 the only river in India that had not been bridged along its entire length either for road or railway, according to a 1988 book co-authored by former railwayman and IIT Madras teacher S. Ponnuswamy.
The river, more than 10 km wide in several stretches, now awaits the completion of its fourth and easternmost span — the country’s longest road-rail bridge at 4.94 km — that India’s defence forces and residents of the eastern half of the Northeast have been demanding for almost five decades.
“The Bogibeel bridge will usher in a new era of economic development in the region, apart from strengthening national security in the border areas,” Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said, following a recent visit to inspect progress on the construction of the bridge.
Sited about 17 km downstream of Dibrugarh town, the bridge will facilitate road and rail connectivity between the north and south banks of the Brahmaputra in the eastern part of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
“A lot of emotion is attached to this bridge because it was part of the Assam Accord of 1985, but it is taking a long time,” said Lurinjyoti Gogoi, general secretary of the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU).
For the construction wing of the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) that is undertaking the project, it is better late than never given the unpredictability of the Brahmaputra and instability of its banks.