Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday flagged off the first passenger train on the newly inaugurated Bogibeel Bridge in Assam's Dhemaji, marking the opening of the longest rail-cum-road bridge in India. Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal was also present in the ceremony. The Tinsukia-Naharlagun Intercity Express on the 4.9-km-long bridge will run five days a week, cutting down the travel time between Tinsukia in Assam and Naharlagun town of Arunachal Pradesh by more than 10 hours. Itanagar, the capital of Arunachal Pradesh is just over 15 km from Naharlagun. Being Asia’s second-longest rail-cum-road bridge, Bogibeel connects the south bank of the Brahmaputra river in Assam’s Dibrugarh to Silapathar in Dhemaji bordering Arunachal Pradesh.
PM Modi, who reached Dibrugarh in this afternoon, flew directly to Bogibeel in a chopper and dedicated the double-decker bridge to the nation from the south bank of the Brahmaputra river. Addressing a public rally followed by the inaugural ceremony in Dibrugarh, Modi said, "If former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had a second term, Bogibeel Bridge would have been ready by 2008-09".
Dubbing the bridge a tribute to Vajpayee's vision, the prime minister further said, "When Vajpayee ji's Government lost power in 2004, several key infrastructure projects of his era were not completed".
"Earlier there used to be dilly-dallying in implementing development projects, NDA govt changed that," Modi said while taking a jibe at the Congress-led UPA government at Centre.
Praising the achievements of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led NDA government, PM Modi said, "Things have changed after May 2014 when topmost priority is being accorded to key projects. Delayed infra projects were adversely impacting India's development trajectory. When we assumed office, we added speed to these projects and worked towards their quick completion".
In an apparent reference to British 'middleman' Christian Michel in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper case, the prime minister said, "Four years ago nobody would have imagined that a man who was involved in a Helicopter scam would be brought to India. Our government managed to do it".
The Bogibeel bridge is considered to be an attempt by the Indian government to shore up the country's defence requirements along the Sino-Indian border.