This bridge goes far

Knapps

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04, Oct 2016

The Dhola-Sadia Bridge being built on the mighty Brahmaputra will be the longest bridge in India when completed. After clearing many hurdles, it is expected to be ready by mid-2017. The bridge will enable better road connectivity between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, and will cut down the travel time between the two states by four hours. It will also bolster defence against China and accelerate socio-economic development in North-East India.

What is the latest news on the Dhola-Sadia Bridge?

The Dhola-Sadia Bridge on Brahmaputra, which will be the longest bridge in India when completed, is expected to be ready by mid-2017. The bridge will enable much better road connectivity between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh and will cut down the travel time between the two states by four hours.

  • The latest news is that the initiative is one step closer to completion, as the road ministry has given clearance to provide compensation to property owners in order to get the land for the two-kilometre stretch of road leading up to the bridge from Sadiya, Assam.
  • The 9.15 kilometre bridge will be 3.55 kilometres longer than the Bandra Worli Sea Link in Mumbai making it the longest bridge in India.
  • The Rs 938-crore project will be crucial for defence purposes as it will make it easier for the armed forces to enter Arunachal Pradesh through Assam.
  • The to-be-longest bridge in India is also being strengthened for the passage of army tanks. At present, there is no bridge fortified for the passage of tanks around Tinsukia from where troops can cross over to Arunachal Pradesh. Moreover, it will cut time for the armed forces to reach the border in Dibang and Anjaw via Tezpur, which takes two days (about 186 km from Guwahati) as of now.
  • This bridge is significant for Arunachal Pradesh, which lacks an operational airport. Given the poor condition of the existing roads and China extending its air strips on its side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC), this is a crucial development from the defence point of view as well.
  • This project will not only save about 4 hours of travel time between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh but will also promote socio-economic activity around the area.

Why does Arunachal Pradesh need this bridge?

India does not have even a single operational airport along the 3,488-km border with China. The entire state of Arunachal Pradesh has no airport. It just has a heliport near Itanagar. The state is considered extremely sensitive because of its international borders with China and internal security issues.

  • Last year, the NDA government commenced work to develop six airports in Arunachal Pradesh.
  • The first of these airports was expected to be operationalized at Tezu by January 2016. However, the construction is still in place.
  • Apart from the airport at Tezu, efforts are being made to resolve a long-standing dispute between the Central and state government over sharing the compensation for rehabilitation of 145 families to develop a second airport at Holangi.
  • Besides, feasibility studies are being commissioned to set up four more airports at Tawang, Daparizo, Anini and Koloriang.

When the bridge is completed, it will help significantly improve the connectivity of Arunachal Pradesh with the rest of India.

When did the construction begin?

The construction of the bridge began in 2010, in public-private-partnership (PPP) with Navayuga. The 2-lane bridge project (25.8 km) includes the 9.15 kilometres of the bridge and the 16.65 kilometres of approach roads.

  • The construction of the bridge in Assam was approved as a part of the Rs 24,000 crore Arunachal Pradesh package to improve road connectivity in the border state.
  • Land disputes and the lackadaisical attitude of the state power and forest departments have posed a major hurdle in commissioning of the project, connecting Dhola and Sadiya in the easternmost tip of Assam.
  • In 2012 floodwaters damaged equipment and materials as well as several roads leading to the site forcing evacuation of workers. Therefore, the construction of the bridge — touted to be the longest in the country and that which can provide the much-needed succour from the transport bottleneck in these parts — had to be suspended for a few months.
  • The latest hurdle is the construction of the approach road from both the ends, Sadiya to bridge and Dhola to bridge, which was stuck due to problems in land acquisition.The local people were not satisfied with the compensation being offered.
  • Now that the road ministry has given clearance to provide compensation to property owners in order to get the land for the road leading up to the bridge, we can expect the project to be completed and ready by mid 2017.

Where are India's and Asia's longest bridges?

Over the years, India has shown great interest in constructing large span, aesthetic bridges in different regions. These bridges not only allow people easier and faster access between two separated areas but they have also become centres of attraction.

Here is a list of India’s top five longest bridges:

  • The Bandra-Worli sea link is currently the longest bridge in India. Named as Rajiv Gandhi Sea Link, it is situated in the Mumbai over the Mahim Bay. This 5.75-kilometre aesthetic bridge is a marvel of engineering.
  • Next is the Mahatma Gandhi Setu located in Hajipur, Patna of Bihar. Crossing over the river Ganga, this 5.57-kilometre long girder bridge is 25 metres wide and has 40 piers in water.
  • Vikramshilla Setu is the third longest bridge in India. Its 4.7-kilometre length connects Bhagalpur to Purnia and Kathiar across Ganga in Bihar.
  • Vembanad Rail Bridge connects Edappally and vallarpadam in the state of Kerala. Having a total length of 4.62 kilometres this beam bridge is 5 metre in width and 7.5 metres in height.
  • Digha–Sonpur rail–cum–road Bridge connects Digha Ghat in Patna and Pahleja Ghat in Sonepur across river Ganges in Bihar. This K-truss bridge is about 4.556 kilometres long.

Even India’s longest bridge does not figure among the top ten longest bridges of Asia, a list that is dominated by China. Here’s a list of the top five bridges in Asia:

  • Danyang–Kunshan Grand Bridge (164.8 km) - This record breaker bridge is the longest bridge not only in Asia, but also in the entire world at 164.8 kilometres. It is located on the rail line between Shanghai and Nanjing in China. It runs roughly parallel to the Yangtze River.
  • Tianjin Grand Bridge (113.7 km) - This railway viaduct bridge located in China runs between Langfang and Qingxian.
  • Weinan Weihe Grand Bridge (79.732 km) - Located in China, it is part of the Zhengzhou-Xi’an High-Speed Railway and connects Xi’an and Zhengzhou.
  • Bang Na Expressway (55 km) - Located in Thailand, the Bang Na Expressway is a six-lane elevated highway.
  • Beijing Grand Bridge (48.153 km) - Located in China, this bridge is a railway viaduct on the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway.

Who is the biggest hurdle for the bridge?

For engineers working on the country’s longest river bridge project connecting Dhola and Sadia in Assam, the mighty Brahmaputra has emerged as the biggest challenge.

  • The river is known to alter its course frequently, spanning from 0.5 km in winters to 12 km when it floods during monsoons.
  • During the floods in 2012, work stopped for 6-8 months. There was extensive damage to site property. There are two cranes that the team is yet to recover from the river bed.
  • In fact, it is this ever-changing course of the river which forced the team to plan a 9.15-km bridge so that traffic movement is not affected when the river floods or changes course.
  • Due to floods in 2015, the level of approach roads being developed had to be raised. Flood banks had been provided on both sides of the river, a few kilometres into the land side.
  • It was observed that floods were contained by the flood banks. But the portion of the road embankment between the flood banks and the river was cut by heavy floods at many locations. These high water levels occur due to insufficiency of cross drainage provided in the design envisaged in the project bid.
  • Therefore a need arose to put in place sufficient cross drainage network for facilitating easy passage of flood water and protection of road and structures.

Though the project was initially scheduled to be completed by 2015, working amidst all these unforeseen hurdles has delayed the project by many years.

How many bridges have been built on the Brahmaputra?

The Brahmaputra not only splits the state of Assam along its length but also cuts off the seven sister states of the North-East from the rest of the country. Therefore bridges built over the Brahmaputra help in the development of the North-East India.

Currently, there are three functional bridges over river Brahmaputra in Assam. The names of the three bridges are:Saraighat Bridge in Guwahati, Kolia Bhumura Setu in Koliabor, Naranarayan Setu in Jogighopa. The other two bridges under construction are the Bogibeel, near Dibrugarh, Assam and Dhola-Sadia Bridge enabling better road connectivity between Assam and Arunachal.

  • Saraighat Bridge -Saraighat is a place near Guwahati in Assam, on the north bank of the river Brahmaputra. There is a road-cum-rail bridge over the river Brahmaputra joining the north and the south banks at Saraighat. This was the first bridge on river Brahmaputra in Assam. It was opened to traffic in April 1962 by then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
  • Kolia Bhomora Setu is a pre-stressed concrete road bridge over the Brahmaputra River near Tezpur in Assam. This bridge connects Sonitpur on the north bank with Nagaon District on the south bank. The length of this bridge is 3.015 kilometers. The construction of the bridge took place from 1981 to 1987.
  • Naranarayan Setu is the third bridge to have been constructed over the Brahmaputra River in Assam. It is a double-deck bridge with a railway track on the lower deck and a road on the upper deck. It has a length of 2.284 kilometres and connects Jogighopa, a town of Bongaigaon District on the north with Pancharatna, a town of Goalpara District on the south. The bridge was inaugurated on April 15, 1998 by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the Prime Minister of India at that time.
  • Bogibeel Bridge is a combined road and rail bridge in the Dibrugarh district of Assam. Upon its expected completion in 2017 the 4.94 kilometres long bridge, work on which was inaugurated in 2002, will become the longest bridge of its kind in India.
  • The Dhola–Sadiya Bridge, scheduled to become operational by mid-2017, will be the longest bridge in India. It spans the Brahmaputra River to connect the states of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh and is 9.15 kilometres (5.69 mi) in length.

There are also reports that the centre will be constructing four new bridges over the Brahmaputra in Assam, with one of them connecting Jorhat with neighbouring Majuli, the world’s largest river island. The other proposed bridges would connect Disangmukh in Sivasagar district with Tekeliphuta in Lakhimpur district, Nagaon with Rangapara near Tezpur in Sonitpur district while the fourth bridge would connect Gohpur with Numaligarh in Golaghat district. Bridges would also be constructed over the State’s other major river Barak in order to develop infrastructure in Assam.

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Tags | Arunachal Pradesh Assam Brahmaputra Development Dhola-Sadia Bridge Longest Bridge North-East