He was flanked by Union Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, Assam Governor Banwarilal Purohit and Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal as a new era in road communication heralded for the people in the eastern end of the country. The dignitaries later took a car ride along a stretch of the bridge before the prime minister decided to take a walk alone in the middle of the bridge.
Mr Modi asked his security personnel to stay near the vehicles and walked on the bridge all alone for nearly two minutes, looking out at the vastness of the Brahmaputra flowing below it. He also posed for a few photographs before being joined by Mr Sonowal, Mr Purohit and Mr Gadkari on foot. The VVIPs again drove back to the Dhola end of the bridge, where the prime minister will be addressing a public rally.
The opening of the bridge will provide road connectivity for the people of the remote eastern areas of Assam and bordering Arunachal Pradesh, who were so far dependant on boats to commute with the rest of the country.
Capable of withstanding the weight of a 60-tonne battle tank, the new bridge is viewed as strategically important for the country’s defence needs. While the bridge is located about 540 km away from Assam capital Dispur and 300 km from Arunachal Pradesh capital Itanagar, the aerial distance to the Chinese border from the bridge is less than 100 km. The bridge, which was mooted in 2002, has been built at a project cost of over Rs 2000 crore, with construction beginning in 2011.
It is one of the key projects of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways in the North East and has been built in the public-private partnership with a construction company. Inauguration of the bridge was the first scheduled programme of the prime minister during his day-long tour of Assam. He is slated to later lay the foundation of an extended campus of Indian Agricultural Research Institute at Gogamukh in northern Assam, lay the foundation of an AIIMS at Changsari in Kamrup (rural) district by remote control from Sarusajai stadium in Guwahati and address the nation from a rally at Khanapara field in Guwahati on completion of three years of BJP-led NDA government in the Centre. (UNI)