India could have got its longest Bhupen Hazarika Bridge between Dhola and Sadiya in Assam 10 years ago had then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee won the 2004 General Elections, PM Narendra Modi said today after inaugurating one of the biggest infrastructure projects in the North-East.
It took around 14 years for the completion of the 9.15-km-long bridge on river Lohit, a tributary of river Brahmaputra. The idea of Dhola-Sadiya Bridge got first push in May 2003 when then Rajya Sabha MP Arun Kumar Sarma and Sadiya MLA Jagadish Bhuyan, both leaders of AGP then, wrote to then minister for Development of North-Eastern Region, C P Thakur, and proposed such a bridge.
In June 2003, then Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Mukut Mithi wrote to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, saying, “The eastern part of Arunachal Pradesh is sensitive from the strategic point of view. In 1962, Wallong and Kibithoo were scenes of fierce battles, and the absence of proper surface communication was the main factor why the Indian Army suffered massive losses,” according to The Indian Express.
PM Vajpayee’s road and transport ministry cleared the feasibility study of the project in August 2003. However, the project was stalled for years as Vajpayee lost power in 2004. Finally, the work started in 2011 but it was delayed and the overall cost of the bridge escalated.
After Modi government came to power in 2014, construction of this bridge was included in a Rs 15,000 crore-package sanctioned by the Centre in 2015 to improve road connectivity in the border state Arunachal Pradesh.
“If Atal Bihari Vajpayee had come to power again in 2004, you would have got this bridge 10 years ago. On May 29, (2003) MLA Jagdish Bhuiyan had written a letter to the government for the bridge. The Atal Bihari government took this seriously and ordered the feasibility study,” the PM said in Assam’s Dhola today.
“If the work had begun then, we would have got the bridge 10 years earlier,” he added.
The PM further said, “In three years, we made efforts to fulfill Atal ji’s drem. And now when BJP Assam government is completing one year in the state, this is a matter of pride for the entire country that India’s longest bridge has come up in Assam.”
Sadiya in district Tinsukia is the birth place of legendary Assamese singer Bhupen Hazarika and the bridge has been named after him.