India awaits longest road-rail bridge - the Bogibeel Bridge

Highlights:

  • Long waited Bogibeel Bridge to become the logest bridge in India.
  • It will span the Brahmaputra in eastern Assam.
  • 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 Bogibeel bridge will usher in a new era of economic development in the region, apart from strengthening national security in the border areas.
  • 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.
  • 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.
Training the river:
  • While former Prime Minister H. D. Deve Gowda laid the foundation stone for the Bogibeel bridge in January 1997.
  • The work started only in April 2002, when Atal Bihari Vajpayee inaugurated the construction.
  • The protracted delay has resulted in the project’s cost increasing more than threefold to Rs.5,800 crore, from the initial estimate of Rs.1,767 crore.
  • At Bogibeel, the unpredictable river needed to be trained first for diversion through a narrower channel by constructing a total of 4.83 km of guide bunds, while flood dykes had to be raised and strengthened 9 km upstream and 7 km downstream on both banks.
Strategic span:
  • The actual work on the bridge began in 2011.
  • The bridge has been designed for carrying very heavy loads and features dual broad-gauge tracks and a three-lane road.
  • At present, troops moving between Dhemaji and Dibrugarh - districts on opposite banks -have to travel more than 600 km via the 3.015 km Kaliabhomora bridge, west of Bogibeel.
Ferry services could be hit:
  • The Inland Water Transport (IWT) Department of Assam fears that the Bogibeel bridge will impact ferry services to a large extent.
  • At present, one government vessel and 24 private boats ferry 2,500 people, 146 cars and 84 two-wheelers on an average every day.