India’s longest river bridge, capable of withstanding the weight of a 60-tonne battle tank, will be inaugurated in Assam close to the border with China on May 26 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.  With the inauguration of the 9.15-km-long Dhola-Sadiya bridge over the Brahmaputra river, the prime minister will kick off the celebrations of the National Democratic Alliance government’s three years in office from this eastern-most part of Assam.  The construction of the bridge is seen as an attempt by India to shore up its defence infrastructure along the Sino-Indian border. It is also part of the Centre’s endeavour to improve connectivity in the region.  It is 3.55 km longer than the Bandra-Worli sea link in Mumbai, making it the longest bridge in India.  “The prime minister will dedicate the strategically important bridge to the nation on May 26. It will bolster road connectivity in the Northeast as the bridge will be used by people of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh besides defence forces extensively,” Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said.  The construction of the bridge began in 2011 at a project cost of Rs 950 crore. Its has been designed to withstand the movement of military tanks.  “Assam and Arunachal Pradesh have huge strategic value to the country. Since the bridge is located close to our border with China, it will help quick movement of military troops and artillery in times of conflict,” Sonowal said.  The bridge is located 540 km from Assam capital Dispur and 300 km from Arunachal Pradesh capital Itanagar. The aerial distance to the Chinese border is less than 100 km.  After Kaliabhomora bridge near Tezpur, there is no bridge over the Brahmaputra for the next 375 km upstream till Dhola, where the new one has been constructed. Currently, all transportation between the two banks of the river is through water.  The bridge, when opened to public, will cut down the travel time between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh by as much as four hours.  As there is no civilian airport in Arunachal Pradesh and this bridge will help people of the state reach the nearest rail head in Tinsukia and the airport in Dibrugarh easily.  Sonowal said the construction of the bridge was expedited after Modi assumed the charge in 2014. The bridge was originally scheduled to open in 2015.  The Bharatiya Janata Party government in Assam will complete one year in office on May 24.  The bridge is one of the key projects of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways in the northeast and has been built in public-private partnership. : 14th. May,17


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