GUWAHATI, Aug 19: Northeast Frontier Railway is likely to re-schedule opening of the country’s longest rail-cum-road bridge, the Bogibeel bridge – from October to December 25,the birth anniversary of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, official sources informed here on Sunday.
“The scheduled commissioning of the bridge is October this year and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to open it to public. Now, we hear that the date might be extended. Some work is still left and, most importantly, the commissioner of railway safety is yet to certify that the bridge is fit for passenger use. Without this, there won’t be any movement of either train or cars,” a source said.
However, the officials of NF Railway said there is no official confirmation into it. “it is just a mere expectation,” he said.
The bridge over the Brahmaputra, which has taken 16 years to build, will be 4.92 km long upon completion. Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had laid the foundation of the bridge in April 2003, having first proposed it in the 1997-98 budgets. It is one of several projects taken up by the government to strengthen its infrastructure along the border in Arunachal Pradesh.
The name game has been a mainstay of various organisations in the state. Five days before Vajpayee died on Thursday, chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal told a delegation of All Assam Chutia Students’ Union that he would refer to the railway ministry their long-standing demand to name the bridge after Sati Sadhini. Sati Sadhini was the last queen of the Chutia dynasty, who had resisted Ahom invasion in the 16th century.
However, on August 17, BJP legislator from Dibrugarh Prasanta Phukan raised a demand that the bridge be named Atal Setu after Vajpayee.
“I will write to Assam chief minister, Sarbananda Sonowal to take up with the Centre to name the bridge after Atal ji. The bridge must be known as Atal Setu. The bridge is a national project for the funding of the project is done from the union budget,” Phukan said.
He said, “Naming the bridge after Atal will be a tribute to the Prime Minister who gave connectivity in the Northeast a big push. The bridge should be inaugurated on December 25, coinciding with the birth anniversary of the former prime minister.”
“The government is yet to decide what the bridge will be named. No one should have a problem with Vajpayeeji’s name,” a source said, in an indication that the government is likely to toe the party line.