UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Monday laid the foundation stone of Jammu and Kashmir’s first cable-stayed bridge in Kathua district that will connect the State with neighbouring Punjab and Himachal Pradesh.

Flanked by Union Ministers A.K. Antony, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Farooq Abdullah, M. Pallam Raju, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and JKPCC Chief Saifuddin Soz, Ms. Gandhi laid the foundation of the structure on river Ravi at Basohli in Kathua district.

After West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir is the third State in the country and the first in northern India to get a cable-stayed bridge.

The bridge is an important link in the State to connect Doda-Kishtwar region and Bhaderwah tourist resort. The structure will also connect - Basohli in Kathua district with Punjab.

The 592-metre bridge is to be built by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) at a cost of Rs. 145 crore.

Director General of BRO Lieutenant General Ravi Shanker briefed Gandhi about the bridge saying that the proposed structure will be built on the lines of the Vidyasagar Setu (Kolkata), Naini Bridge (Allahabad) and the Rajiv Gandhi Sea Link (Mumbai).

It will also open up an alternative route to National Highway 1A and to the Kashmir Valley via Basholi, Bani, Bhaderwah, Kishtwar, Chhatroo and Anantnag and boost development of these areas, he said.

The contract for the construction of the bridge, scheduled to be constructed by September 2014, has been awarded to IRCON-SPS Construction Pvt. Ltd..