Communication is the one area which the people of the Northeastern states had to suffer for the past many years. In northeast, there are many places that are not easily accessible due to dearth of sufficient roads and patchy rail connectivity. However there is a ray of hope among people since recently many new projects were launched to strengthen the communication network of the northeastern states. The people of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh has to suffer the most because of the poor communication system. However now, everybody is eyeing the completion of the Bogibeel Bridge over the Brahmaputra in Dibrugarh, the longest rail cum road Bridge in India which will connect Dibrugarh with Dhemaji district. There are many rails cum road bridge built in India but not longer then Bogibeel Bridge. The total length of the bridge is 4.94 km.
“Lakhimpur and Dhemaji on the north bank of the Brahmaputra are the two underdeveloped districts of Upper Assam where majority of the populace belongs to the tribal communities. The Southern bank is more developed. Today if a patient needs to be brought to Assam Medical College from Lakhimpur and Dhemaji, one has to hire a motor boat. Every day we see critical patients being brought with lots of hardships. “Once the Bridge is completed, it would be an half hour drive” said Jina Chetri, a local resident of Bogibeel.
According to the experts, after the completion of the bridge, the Dibrugarh market will expand in a big way and businesses will grow exponentially. Trade links will be opened upto Itanagar and the traders will be able to make the most out of it. Additionally the bridge will also play a crucial role in the mobilisation of security forces and the line of actual control with China will be easily accessible.
Haren Pegu, a resident of Dhemaji says, “We are facing immense problems during the monsoon season because the water level of Brahmaputra river rises and ferry services are cancelled. We hope that this year the bridge gets completed and we can avail the services of the bridge.’’
It was on April 21, 2002, the former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had inaugurated the construction of the bridge at the Chowkidinghee playground by pressing a button, 17 km from the proposed site. The Congress government, which ruled for a decade since 2004, appreciated the importance of the bridge and declared it as a national project in 2007.
The construction work of the Bogibeel was inaugurated by Atal Bihari Vajpayee and he had set a deadline of 2007 but till now the project has not been completed. As a result of the multiple delays and revised deadlines the final cost of the project is expected to touch ` 5,000 crore as against the original budget of ` 1,767 crore. “The bridge is the victim of politics because after the toppling the BJP at the centre, congress came into power and during their tenure the works of the bridge progressed at a slower pace. When Atal Bihari Vajpayee inaugurated the construction of the bridge, we were very much positive that the bridge will be completed in the given deadline but it has taken many deadlines and it is one of the sluggish project to ever happen in India,” says Nabajyoti Borkakoty, social activist of Dibrugarh. He added the bridge would usher in a new era of communication centering on the premier urban centre and industrial hub of eastern India, which is Dibrugarh.
Once the bridge is completed it will have a great impact on people’s life. It will be the ”Life Line of The Northeast” facilitating connectivity between north and south of the Brahmaputra river in the eastern region of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh is just over 20km from the northern bank of the river. It starts from Chaulkhowa Station and Moranhat station at south bank and joins in between Sisibargaon Station and Siripani station of Rangiya-Murkongselek section in North bank.
It was basically a railway project but the railways have given the contract to many private firms. The Sub-structure of the bridge was given to Gammon India which took many years to complete the sub-structure. Some of the people associated with the project believe that due to slow work done by the workers of Gammon the works of the bridge was slowed down. “Actually Gammon India asked for more funds and the then government failed to provide fund which was needed for the project. 2011-12 & 2012-13 funds were not available for the project and the construction work of the bridge got further delayed,” said a top official of the project.
By: Avik Kumar Chakraborty