With ways to open military, economic, and logical vistas, the Bogibeel bridge will soon be operational
Prime Minister Narendra Modi seems to have cracked the whiplash on national infrastructure projects being completed on time, particularly the road and railway networks, to ensure pan-India connectivity by 2020. So though it has taken more than 16 years in the making, the country’s longest road-cum rail bridge over the Brahmaputra has almost been completed. The five-km Bogibeel bridge in Assam is the arrowhead of other rail links in the North-East that have not only connected them to the mainland but coalesced the region into an economic hub that is exporting goods and skilled human resource to the rest of the country. This bridge is most significant because it reduces the travel time between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. So far, there is no option but to use a winding road and river crossings to travel between Dibrugarh and Pasighat. A technological marvel, the bridge lends teeth to Modi’s Look East policy, integrating the seven sister States economically, culturally and socially, particularly Arunachal Pradesh, which, while being contiguous, has posed massive terrain and climatic challenges for building transit corridors and has felt left out of the stakes of development. Strategically and psychologically, this bridge is intended to neutralise China’s hold in Arunanchal. With almost 75 per cent of the shared Indo-China border being in Arunachal Pradesh, the bridge is expected to give a big logistical push to rushing supplies and aid to outlying Army posts. Right now that is our Achilles’ heel considering China has already tarmac conduits that can replenish PLA positions swifter. Besides with random incursions and dumping of cheap goods, China has quite the hold over outlying stretches of Arunachal Pradesh, particularly its young populace. With the train, the Government will be able to block such insidious designs of holding the State to ransom and ensure that the demographic resource gets absorbed in jobs and enterprises across the country. Besides, the survey and feasibility studies are going on in full swing for the train to Tawang bordering Tibet. The larger integration is also at play; despite blockades and negotiating the tricky bends of land acquisition, the rail line to Imphal will be completed by 2020 and extensions have been cleared in Nagaland.
The game-changing effect of the long arm of India’s vast railway network has already been suitably demonstrated in the Kashmir valley with the local populace taking to the rapid transport system as a lifeline in the snow-bound months and the youth seeking higher education and jobs outside the states. The Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link (USBRL) has done more in terms of soft diplomacy than what any counter-insurgency measure has ever achieved. Now with the last link left to ensure a continuous run from Jammu to Srinagar by 2021, the Railways would have reached a strategic and popular benchmark. Little known to many, the USBRL has many technological firsts with the world’s highest arch bridge over the Chenab, with about 80 per cent of the tracks burrowing through young fold mountains of the Himalayas, sometimes 11 km tunnels, and each leg an innovation on known templates of civil engineering. It has also been a great human resource exercise with the Railways skilling the local populace, laying approaches to build a parallel road network, ensuring water channels are diverted and handsomely recompensing land owners. The people express has truly taken off.
Courtesy: The Pioneer