GUWAHATI: India’s longest bridge in Assam, over the Lohit in the eastern most tip of the state connecting Arunachal Pradesh, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated on Friday, will be named after legendary singer-composer Bhupen Hazarika.
“Our government has decided to name the bridge after Bhupen Hazarika. This is our tribute to him. This will inspire generations of people. Bhupen Hazarika was a true son and worshipper of the Brahmaputra. He lived worshipping it. He introduced the river to the world by singing songs about it,” Modi said in his address to people at Dhola after opening the bridge.
The 9.15km bridge, which is also Asia’s second longest, is located in Tinsukia district bordering Arunachal Pradesh. The Prime Minister said people would have got the bridge 10 years ago if the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government had returned to power in 2004.
“For five decades, you had been dreaming of the bridge. If the Vajpayee government had returned to power in 2004, you would have got it 10 years ago. Your MLA Jagadish Bhuyan had once written to Atalji seeking the bridge and he started the preliminary work in no time. Unfortunately, the government changed. It is due to NDA government’s efforts in last three years that you have now got the bridge,” Modi told the crowd.
Stating that the bridge is one of the most important infrastructure projects of the country, he said it would connect Assam with Arunachal. He said the bridge was also a matter of pride for all Indians.
“The bridge will not only minimise the distance between Assam and Arunachal by 165km, it will also save Rs10 lakh everyday on diesel. It will provide connectivity round the clock and open up avenues for economic development of the region, particularly Assam and Arunachal. It will also help farmers earn more,” Modi said.
He said the Northeast, which is rich in natural resources and bio-diversity, had the potential to play the biggest role in helping India scale greater heights of development.
“The Northeast has the strength. If it gets opportunities, it can do wonders. We are going very fast to connect the Northeast with the rest of India. We are working hard to make it a business hub of South East Asia. You will see our measures in the near future,” the Prime Minister said.
After opening the bridge, the Prime Minister had travelled a distance of around two kilometres on the bridge. Once, he came out of his vehicle and started walking alone. The SPG personnel, Governor BL Purohit, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and Union minister Nitin Gadkari watched him walk alone from a distance.
The bridge has been built over river Lohit, which is a tributary of the Brahmaputra. Lohit, Dibang and Siang confluence three kilometres away and becomes the Brahmaputra.
The bridge will facilitate the movement of defence personnel. It can withstand the weight of a 60-tonne battle tank. The Steel Authority of India had supplied around 30,000 tonnes of steel for the bridge. The construction had begun in 2011 when the Congress was in power in Assam as well as at the Centre. Given the region’s proximity to China, the bridge is strategic.