India's longest bridge coming up across the mighty Brahmaputra at Bogibeel in Assam is not only expected to be a lifeline for the Northeast, but will also strengthen the country's security.
Scheduled to be completed in 2016, the 4.94 km rail-cum-road bridge, a product of the 1985 Assam Accord and being implemented by the North East Frontier Railway, will provide connectivity to upper Assam and Arunachal Pradesh and cut down the distance to the border with China by 10 hours.
Railway officials said that the rail link would connect two existing railway networks running at south bank and north bank of the river.
It starts from Chaulkhowa station and Moranhat station at south bank and joins in between Sisibargaon station and Siripani station of Rangiya-Murkongselek section in north bank.
Right now it takes one and a half hours to cross the river, but once the bridge is inaugurated, the travel time will be reduced to a few minutes.
Besides, movement of goods will also be possible on a larger scale.
Railway officials said the bridge would strengthen national security by way of truncating distance to reach the China border during movement of troops and supplies.
But not all are happy. As the completion of the bridge draws near, over 100 boatmen families are spending sleepless nights over fear that it will jeopardise their sources of income.
For Munna Singh, Brojen Doley, Rajesh Chowdhury and other majhis, it will be tough finding an alternative means of livelihood inheriting their profession from generations far into the past.
"I don't know what to do ....the fear of closing my ferry service always haunts me. How will I manage a regular income?" Munna Singh, who owns two country boats and is presently earning around Rs 15,000 per month, despairs.
Similar is the condition of Brojen Doley who owns a boat that ferries private vehicles of people from Arunachal Pradesh.