Prime minister Narendra Modi celebrated three-year of his government on May 26 by inaugurating Dhola-Sadiya bridge over the Brahmaputra river in Assam’s Tinsukia district. It is the longest bridge in India, which runs 9.15 km from end to end and connects Assam with Arunachal Pradesh.
“This bridge will not just save time and money, but also trigger a new economic revolution in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and the entire Northeast. It will open up doors for economic development. The farmers of Sadiya, for instance, will now get access to the global markets to sell the finest quality ginger that they grow,” the prime minister said after inaugurating the bridge named after popular Assamese playback singer, lyricist, poet and filmmaker Bhupen Hazarika.
Seen as an engine of growth in the Northeast region, the bridge will also provide significant “impetus to regional groupings like BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation)”. This group, which includes countries such as Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal, emphasizes on technological and economic co-operation among member countries, said strategic affairs expert Alok Bansal.
“Connectivity has always been a problem in the Northeast region. While connecting Brahmaputra’s north bank with South, the Dhola-Sadiya bridge will prove to be an engine of growth in the region,” he added.
Another major infrastructure, the 4.94 km rail cum road Bogibeel bridge, expected to be thrown open to public sometime in 2018, will connect Dibrugarh in Upper Assam to Dhemaji district which is lying at Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border. Both bridges would be strategic assets, given that they have been developed with an aim to allow defence cargoes, including tanks and other heavy military equipment to move from Assam to India-China border in Arunachal Pradesh at a short notice.
According to an Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) report, India shares 3,488-km long boundary with China and almost a third of this passes through Arunachal Pradesh, called South Tibet by Beijing. While China has built infrastructure along the border with India’s Northeastern state; the last unreachable place Medog in Tibet, lying close to disputed state, has also been connected with good quality all-weather road. This apart, China has also set up airfields in Hoping, Pangta and Kong Ka—all in Tibet. It has already built the 2,000 km Qinghai-Tibet railway.
In 2006, under the UPA-I, building 6,500km long road network in the Northeast region by 2016 was envisaged. A strategically important 720 metre long Digaru bridge linking Lohit with Dibang valley districts of Arunachal Pradesh, was constructed by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) in 2012.