Dibrugarh: A decade after commencement of construction work of India’s longest rail-cum-road bridge over the Brahmaputra river in Assam, considered crucial for the defence requirement of the region, the mega project still awaits completion.
Work on the 4.940-km long Bogibeel rail-cum road bridge connecting Assam with Arunachal Pradesh, was sanctioned in 1997-98 and the foundation stone of the multi-crore project was laid by former Prime Minister AB Vajpayee on April 21, 2002.
Since then, Railways has revised the estimated cost of the project from the initial Rs 1767 crore to Rs 3230 crore. Till date, a total of Rs 2404 crore has been spent on it.
“The work on the bridge is expected to be commissioned by the end of 2015,” said Ajit Pandit, Chief Engineer of the project.
Admitting ‘delay’ and cost escalation, Pandit said, “There was a fund shortage and the pace of the work gained momentum only after the project was declared a national project in 2007. Then the rise in the cost of cement and steel are also factors responsible for the cost escalation.”
Work on the substructure, executed by Northeast Frontier Railway is also under progress. “We have completed 32 wells (pillars) out of 42 wells. Rest will be completed by June 2013,” Pandit said.
About the constraints in executing the project, he said, “The main constraint was the availability of dry season as we get only four dry months from November 15 to March 15 and rest of the months, it rains here. It is difficult to construct piers in the river during rains.”
With the nearly five-km length, the superstructure of the Bogibeel rail-cum-road bridge designed by Ramboll, a Danish company, is set be the longest rail-cum-road bridge of the country.
The design of the company has been proof-checked by Anbikar, a German company.
The bridge will have a double line broad gauge track and a three-lane road which will be facilitating connectivity between north and south bank of Brhampaputra in the eastern region of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
“It will reduce the travel time by 8 hours to 10 hours between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh,” Pandit said, adding it would also accelerate socio-economic development in the region.
Hoping to complete the bridge in three years time, he said, “Our target is December 2015. Even if it is delayed the bridge will be definitely commissioned by March 2016.”
The commissioning of the bridge will also boost security in the country’s eastern region. (PTI)