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PM Modi inaugurates India’s longest bridge, names it after Assam’s cultural icon Bhupen Hazarika

Dhola-Sadiya is the fourth bridge over Brahmaputra—the first one opened in 1964 at Saraighat near Guwahati—and will improve connectivity between Assam and eastern Arunachal Pradesh.

india Updated: May 26, 2017 16:41 IST
Assam,India's longest bridge,Bhupen Hazarika
The Modi government kicked off its nationwide celebration with the inauguration of the bridge to mark three years in power, a mega show comprising hundreds of leaders with an eye on the next general elections.(Pronib Das/HT Photo)

On Friday Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated India’s longest bridge. It was built in Assam over the Lohit River, a tributary of the Brahmaputra.

The bridge will span 9.15 km to connect two smalls towns, Dhola at the river’s south bank and Sadiya in the north. The previous holder of the all-India record for bridge length, the Bandra-Worli Sea Link in Mumbai, is 5.6 km long.

Modi’s visit coincided with both the three-year anniversary of the NDA government’s time in power and the one-year anniversary of the BJP government in Assam. The completion of the construction project and the address delivered by the prime minister come as the ruling party seeks to expand its power in the North-east.

The government expects the Dhola-Sadiya to faciliate the quick movement of army personnel and equipment to areas bordering China. It is designed to support the weight of a 60-tonne battle tank. The bridge also features 182 piers with ‘seismic buffers’ — conical rods placed below the bridge that will help prevent damage in case of an earthquake.

Civilian transit should get easier for those commuting either from Tinsukia, a local business hub, or from Dibrugarh, which has the region’s only government hospital, to Sadiya in upper Assam. During periods of heavy rainfall, ferries that ran infrequently used to be the only feasible form of transport.

In general, the government estimates that travel time between eastern Arunachal and towns in upper Assam such as Tinsukia and Dibrugarh will be reduced by as much as four hours.

During his address, Modi announced that the bridge will be named after the musician and filmmaker Bhupen Hazarika, honouring the request of an array of local groups. Hazarika was born in Sadiya.

“Bhupen Hazarika, during his lifetime, worked relentlessly for unity and integrity among all caste, creed and religion through his music and songs,” said novelist YD Thongchi, president of the Arunachal Pradesh Literary Society.

Hazarika himself was a kind of bridge between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh: Thongchi observed that, at the time of the artist’s birth, before it became part of Assam, Sadiya was administered under the British colonial borders that later gave shape to Arunachal Pradesh.

The Dhola -Sadia bridge was inaugrated by PM Modi on 26th May 2017. ( Pronib Das/HT Photo )

The Patriotic People’s Front of Assam, a civil society group comprised of writers and professionals, also declared support for naming the bridge after Hazarika. So did the United Liberation Front of Asom-Independent, a banned terror group that says it is inspired by Hazarika’s music. His more martial tunes include Aji Kameng Simanta Dekhilu, from the time of the 1962 Indo-China War: “I saw the Kameng Frontier today, and witnessed the beastly deeds of the enemy”.

Hazarika’s songs often referred specifically to the importance of the Brahmaputra and the Lohit to the local community, for example in the song Mahabahu Brahmaputra. Its lyrics go: “O mighty-armed Brahmaputra, the sacred confluence, for ages you have shown the meaning of fraternity and brotherhood”.

First Published: May 26, 2017 14:34 IST