GUWAHATI: A controversy has erupted over the naming of India’s longest rail-cum-road bridge ahead of its inauguration by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 25.
A number of organisations are demanding the 4.98-km long hitherto known “Bogibeel Bridge” be named after their preferred leader. One of the organisations is the All Assam Ahom Sabha. Its Dibrugarh district unit has threatened to enforce a blockade on a national highway on Thursday demanding the bridge be named after Chaolung Sukapha, the founder of Ahom dynasty in the state.
Similarly, the All Assam Chutia Students’ Union demanded that the project be named after the Chutia community’s Rani Sati Sadhani. Some other organisations want the bridge to be named after personalities such as former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Birangana Sati Sadhani and Jananeta Bhimbor Deori.
Amidst the row, the state government, in a letter to the Northeast Frontier Railway, suggested the bridge be named “Birangana Sati Sadhani Setu”. Sati Sadhani was a heroic queen of the Chutiya kingdom.
The bridge over the Brahmaputra is located between Assam’s Dhemaji and Dibrugarh districts. It was a fruit of the Assam Accord of 1985 which the then Rajiv Gandhi government had signed with the All Assam Students’ Union at the end of six-year long bloody Assam Agitation.
The project was sanctioned in 1997-98 and the foundation laid in January 1997 but the construction started only in 2002. After several years of slow progress, the bridge was granted a national project status in 2007. Thereafter, the project’s completion missed several deadlines. This was because of the bridge’s location. The place records intense rainfall. The construction largely took place only during a period of four dry months between November and March.
The bridge will be of strategic importance, for it will enhance India’s ability to transport troops and supplies to its border with China in Arunachal Pradesh.
Built at a cost of around Rs 5,920 crore, the 4.98-km long structure is India's longest rail cum road bridge and based on the design of Oresund bridge that connects Sweden and Finland across the Oresand strait.