Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday inaugurated the country’s longest bridge over the Lohit river in Assam on the third anniversary of his government and said the NDA dispensation was working to make the northeast a trade hub for southeast Asia.
Dedicating to the nation the 9.15 km-long bridge, named after Dadasaheb Phalke awardee and legendary lyricist-singer Bhupen Hazarika who hailed from Sadiya, he said it will serve as the foundation for a new economic revolution and help India in its efforts to become a superpower.
Speaking on the Act East Policy, the Prime Minister said he wanted the northeast region to be well-connected for economic activity. “For this, we are laying stress on development of infrastructure and making the northeast a tourism centre. Lakhs of tourists would also come to Kamakhya temple and improve the economy,” he said.
“Stress is now being laid on what was never done earlier... Electricity, roads, rail infrastructure and optical fibre network in the northeast will connect every corner of the region with the country,” Mr. Modi said.
“The bridge will not only save money, reduce travel time but comes as a foundation for the beginning of a new economic revolution. That is why the whole nation has its eyes on this bridge.”
“The reduction of distance by 165 km and cutting travel time by seven to eight hours will open new doors for economic development... The bridge will bring development to Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.”
“For fulfilling India’s dream of becoming a top economically developed nation, a superpower, the northeast region is the place to begin with,” Mr. Modi said.
“If development is to be made permanent, then infrastructure is the first requirement. It is on the two tracks of physical infrastructure and social infrastructure that complete development is achieved,” he said.
The Prime Minister said the government has been striving for long-lasting development by creating permanent infrastructure for fulfilling the nation’s dreams.
Ex-MLA who began it all
He recalled the role played by the former MLA Jagadish Bhuyan in the construction of the bridge as it was he who wrote to then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on May 29, 2003.
“The government changed in the middle and your dreams got paused. If work had continued then you would have had the bridge 10 years ago. In the last three years efforts started to complete Vajpayee’s work,” Mr. Modi said.
The bridge built at a cost of ₹2,056 crore is 3.55 km longer than the Bandra-Worli sea link. The length of the bridge, including viaducts, is 9.15 km with a 7.3 km approach road from the Dhola side and 12.5 km from Sadia side.
With importance accorded to quick movement of military troops and artillery, the bridge has been designed to allow movement of tanks, official sources said.