R Dutta choudhury
GUWAHATI, Nov 5 – The Saraighat Bridge over the river Brahmaputra, which is the vital link between North East region and the rest of the country, has completed 50 years of its existence and according to the experts of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Guwahati, the bridge is still fit enough to serve the region for the days to come.
The idea of construction of a bridge over the river Brahmaputra was first mooted in 1910 and the thought gathered momentum during the Second World War. But there were doubts over the stability of the Railway line between Bongaigaon and Amingaon following devastating floods in 1942-43. However, the then Railway Minister announced the decision to construct the bridge in the Budget session of the Parliament in 1958 and the construction work formally started in January, 1959. The bridge was completed in September, 1962 by the Hindustan Construction Company and the first engine plied over the Saraighat Bridge on September 23, 1962, followed by Goods Train service from October 31 that year.
Though the Saraighat bridge was put into use in 1962, the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru formally inaugurated the Bridge on June 7, 1963.
Giving details of the construction of the historic Bridge, Railway sources said that the total cost of construction was around Rs 10.65 crore and the total length of it is 4258 feet. The road is 24 feet wide with six feet wide foot path on both sides. The Bridge is designed to withstand earthquakes up to G 10 (Richter scale).
Sources revealed that the Bridge has 12 spans and 14000 tonnes of steel, 4.2 cubic feet concrete, 40,000 tonne of cement, 100 million cubic feet of earthwork were used to construct the bridge, the first of its kind in this part of the country. A 40 feet clearance is kept from the normal high flood level to ensure free navigation under the bridge, sources added.
In April this year, the Railways entrusted the IIT, Guwahati with the responsibility of studying the effect of age on the bridge. The experts gave the opinion that the structure and all the pillars of the bridge are in sound condition and the bridge would be able to serve the North East region of the country for years to come.
The NF Railway will celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the historic Saraighat Bridge in a function to be held tomorrow. The Governor JB Patnaik and Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi will attend the function to be held tomorrow afternoon, Railway sources said.