DIBRUGARH, May 7 – If the general manager (construction) of Northeast Frontier Railway, Ms Vijaya Kanth is to be believed, the Bogibeel rail-cum-road bridge should be ready by 2015, if the current pace of construction work continues. She clarified this in an informal chat with this newspaper today at the Bogibeel Project Officers’ Guest House here, and denied that the bridge superstructure is in for a re-tender. She claimed that the existing global tender stands valid, and only the work awardee remains to be finalised. She informed that there is every likelihood that the bridge superstructure contract would be awarded in the next seven to ten days by the Railway Board, and that she too is pressing for this at both the Railway ministry and the Railway Board.
In the interaction with the railway official here today, former Dibrugarh MP, Sarbananda Sonowal asked the officials to beautify the bridge and its approaches with suitable tree plantation and measures that would attract visitors and tourists.
Sonowal also suggested that the railways construct a guest house at the Bogibeel area for the benefit of tourists, as the place has vast potential for growth of tourism, given the majesticity of the Brahmaputra (the river is about 8 kms wide there) and the awe-inspiring views of the Himalayas from the place.
He briefed the railway general manager of the railway history of Dibrugarh, and how citizens here crave for an appropriate railway museum. The nation’s second railway line was constructed from Mohanaghat to Dinjan more than a hundred years ago.
Bogibeel project deputy chief engineer, Mohinder Singh said that the Bogibeel site was selected way back in 1927 for a bridge across the Brahmaputra by the then British and Indian railway engineers. The plan then went to the backburner, and survey work on the site was resumed by RITES (Rail India Technical & Engineering Services) in 1967, following persistent demand for a bridge there since 1962 by the Dibrugarh Nagarik Sangha.
As for the bridge construction proper, Ms Vijaya Kanth said all the 47 pillars of the bridge would be ready for the superstructure by the middle of 2013. However, as several pillars towards the north and south banks would be ready in the coming months, work on the superstructure would begin this winter, she said. She said the design of the bridge is the latest in bridge building anywhere in the world. The length of the bridge has been modified and will now be almost five kms long.
Earlier, the length of the bridge was designed to be 4.3 km. The bridge itself would be double decked, with the lower deck having two BG railway tracks and the upper road deck would have three carriageways, with footpath on either side.
Meanwhile, work on the Rangiya – Murkong Selek railway gauge conversion has also commenced. Along with this gauge conversion, Naharlagun in Arunachal Pradesh would have broad gauge rail connectivity from Harmutty station in Assam. The gauge conversion work on the north bank of the Brahmaputra is likely to be completed by 2014.
It is also learnt that the district administration in Dhemaji and Dibrugarh have initiated land acquisition work, to facilitate laying of a four laned highway approach to the bridge, to connect NH 52 on the north bank ad NH 37 on the south bank. The highway link would be executed by the Assam PWD, while the cost of the land is being borne by the railways.