New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the 4.94-km-long rail-cum-road Bogibeel Bridge on Tuesday. After reaching Dibrugarh in the afternoon, the Prime Minister directly flew to Bogibeel in a chopper and inaugurated the double-decker bridge, which begins at Dibrugarh and ends at Dhemaji districts of Assam. Modi along with Assam Governor Jagdish Mukhi and Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal also walked a few metres on the bridge.

Notably, the bridge was inaugurated 21 years after its foundation stone was laid by former prime minister HD Deve Gowda on January 22, 1997. Because of the inordinate delay in implementation, the cost of the project escalated by 85 per cent to Rs 5,960 crore from the sanctioned estimated cost of Rs 3,230.02 crore.

The total length of the bridge was also revised to 4.94 km from the earlier 4.31 km. Realising its strategic importance, the central government had declared the construction of the bridge as a National Project in 2007, thereby assuring availability of fund for speedy construction.

The longest rail-cum-road bridge of India, with two-line railway track on the lower deck and a three-lane road on the top deck, will provide the much-needed connectivity between Dibrugarh in Assam to Pasighat in Arunachal Pradesh. It will also reduce Delhi to Dibrugarh train travel time by about three hours to 34 hours as against 37 hours presently.

It will not only improve connectivity but also help the economic development of the region. Some reports claimed that the Bogibeel Bridge, which was a part of the Assam Accord and sanctioned in 1997-98 will also strengthen the defence movement along the India-China frontiers.

It is part of infrastructure projects planned by India to improve logistics along the border in Arunachal Pradesh. This includes the construction of a trans-Arunachal highway on the north bank of the Brahmaputra, and new road and rail links over the mighty river and its major tributaries such as the Dibang, Lohit, Subansiri and Kameng.

(With inputs from agencies)