Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday, 26 May, inaugurated the Dhola-Sadiya bridge, which will for the first time connect Assam and Arunachal Pradesh across the Brahmaputra river.
The bridge is 9.2 km-long and is India’s longest bridge.
Construction of the bridge began in 2011 and fast-tracked in 2015. The cost of the project is Rs 950 crore.
The Dhola-Sadiya bridge will also reduce travel time between the two North-eastern states by almost four hours.
Besides the travel benefits, the Dhola-Sadiya bridge also commands considerable strategic importance. Historically, the Sino-indian border has been relatively under-developed to hamper any possible Chinese military incursions into India.
A six-year-long megaproject
The Dhola-Sadiya bridge is built across the Lohit river, a tributary of the Brahmaputra.
It connects Assam and Arunachal Pradesh and greatly decreases travel time between the two states. This is particularly so as Arunachal does not even have a functioning airport and until now travel between the two states could mainly happen through road and railways, which proved lengthy and pricey.
The bridge is 540 km away from Guwahati, and 300 km from Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh’s capital.
The project was green-lighted in 2011 under the Manmohan Singh government and fast-tracked in 2015 as part of a Rs 15,000 crore package to increase road connectivity in the region.
The bridge is 9.2 km-long and is India’s longest bridge. By comparison, the Mahatma Gandhi Setu is 5.75 km-long and the Bandra-Worli Sea Link is 5.6 km-long.
A strategic construction
The strategic and military implications of the Dhola-Sadiya bridge are huge.
The Indo-Chinese border has been left under-developed by India for decades to act as an inhibitor to any Chinese military incursion. As such, the region has poor road and rail connectivity.
However, the Dhola-Sadiya bridge promises to ensure more smooth movement for Indian troops and tanks to Arunachal Pradesh, a state which is claimed almost fully by China.
Among other things, the bridge is been designed to withstand the weight of 60-tonne battle tanks. This comes as a major boon for the troops as most of the roads in the region are ill-equipped to handle tanks.
KV Kuber, a defence analyst, told Livemint, “The bridge across Brahmaputra in Assam into Arunachal Pradesh is a great strategic shift in the thinking in the Indian defence establishment regarding infrastructure development in the borders with China … The new infrastructure will help the Indian military to be prepared for a decent rebuttal to ward off any misadventure from the Chinese side.”