[Editorial Analysis] A bridge across the Brahmaputra

Mains Paper 3: Economy

Prelims level: Bogibeel bridge

Mains level: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways, etc.

Context

• Bogibeel, the longest railroad bridge of India, spanning nearly five-km across the Brahmaputra link Dibrugarh with North Lakhimpur district of Assam and parts of eastern Arunachal Pradesh.

• Sixty-eight years after being ravaged by a devastating earthquake and the ensuing floods, Dibrugarh is reclaiming its lost glory.

• It used to be a thriving centre of the plantation industry during the colonial times. For the people of the region, it remains a hub of higher education and medical treatment.

• However, for decades, the only recourse for people to cross the Brahmaputra would be to chug along for over an hour, in a diesel-propelled ferry, which would also carry their vehicles and goods, even cattle.

• Crossing the river could be a costlier proposition than flying between Mumbai and Goa.

Major significance behind this bridge construction

• Commissioning the bridge has reduced the journey time across the river to less than five minutes, bringing relief to people living in these remote parts.

• The single biggest factor which has shackled the development of the Northeast region is the absence of robust connectivity.

• It has the potential to infuse economic dynamism in the region and provide opportunities for the expansion of tourism, industrial development and trade. Bogibeel must be viewed alongside other infrastructure developments in neighbouring Arunachal Pradesh.

• The iconic Bhupen Hazarika bridge over the Lohit river was commissioned recently by the prime minister.

• A 7.5 km long bridge over the Dibang river was dedicated to the nation a few days ago.

• The Trans Arunachal Highway has seen considerable progress, especially in the eastern part of the state.

• An airport has been commissioned at Pasighat, barely two hours away from Dibrugarh.

• One of the most pristine parts of Arunachal Pradesh has now become accessible to the rest of the world.

• This could give a fillip to tourism, given that the region has abundant wildlife and is ideal for river rafting and angling.

• However, an imaginative roadmap of tourism development, promotion and branding needs to be crafted, centred around the region’s tribal ethos.

• Dibrugarh lies at the heart of a crucial oil and gas axis in Assam, given its proximity to Digboi and Duliajan oilfields.

• Further east lie the Kharsang gas fields and Kumchai oilfields of Arunachal Pradesh.

• The district also has significant coal deposits.

• There are more than 200 tea factories in Dibrugarh.

• Commissioning of the bridge has raised the prospects of industrial development and opportunities for productive employment for the youth, especially in the mining and plantation sectors.

Improving geo-political relations and reaching to the natural resources

• Bogibeel is the gateway to the historic Stilwell Road, which connects Ledo in Assam to Kunming in China, passing through Myanmar’s Kachin state, via Arunachal Pradesh.

• The 1,800 km long route was used for transporting arms to the Chinese by the Americans during World War II. Its revival for trade is well within grasp now.

• The route could well become the centrepiece of the ambitious Act East Policy.

• It would follow the Asian Highway (AH )14 and reach Kunming along AH3.

• The Chinese stretch has a six-lane highway, while the Indian side in Arunachal Pradesh has a two-lane highway.

• Infrastructure in Myanmar, of course, would need to be strengthened and the land customs station at Nampong in Arunachal Pradesh revived.

• Trade could revitalise economic activity, in what is otherwise one of the most backward parts of Arunachal Pradesh. From a strategic standpoint, movement of troops has become a much quicker, efficient and reliable proposition.

Way forward

• The road beyond Dibrugarh leads to the frontier parts of Arunachal Pradesh, with a fully functional advanced landing ground of Air Force at Walong, barely 100 km from the Chinese border.

• This was a theatre of armed incursion in 1962. Now access to one of the remotest border outposts in Anjaw has been made much easier.

• Bogibeel is poised to usher winds of change in this part of the world.

• However, the advantage of connectivity must be accompanied by an imaginative blueprint of economic development, drawing upon the region’s advantages.

• The symbolism of Bogibeel goes well beyond the Brahmaputra.

———————————————

Prelims Questions:

Q.1) Shale gas is primarily found in which of the following rock systems?

1. Sedimentary rocks

2. Metamorphic rocks

3. Igneous rocks

Select the correct answer using the code given below

(a) 1 only

(b) 1 and 2 only

(c) 2 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Answer: A

Mains Questions:

Q.1) Why Bogibeel bridge is so important to upgrading infrastructure as well as improving geopolitical relations with neighbouring countries?

Share article