Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday launched several connectivity projects worth over ₹9,500 crore in poll-bound Assam.
Modi launched the Mahabahu-Brahmaputra project to improve inland water transport connectivity, laid the foundation stone of one bridge and performed ground-breaking ceremony (bhumi pujan) of another via video conferencing.
“In the past few years, the amount of work that should have been done to improve connectivity on the Brahmaputra was not undertaken. The Mahabahu-Brahmaputra project has already started working on addressing that,” the PM said, while blaming previous governments at the Centre for neglecting road and waterways’ connectivity in Assam and the rest of northeast.
To be implemented at a cost of ₹3,231 crores, the Mahabahu-Brahmaputra project involves the launch of Ro-Pax ferry services at three places on the Brahmaputra, construction of an inland water transport (IWT) terminal, tourist jetties at four places and launch of two e-portals for ease of doing business.
The new Ro-Pax ferry service between Majuli and Neamati will reduce the 11 hours taken to travel between these two places to just one hour. The ferry service between North and South Guwahati will cover the three hours’ distance by road in 30 minutes and the service between Dhubri and Hatsingimari will reduce the eight hours of road travel to three hours.
The IWT terminal to be constructed at Jogighopa is expected to boost the local economy with enhanced trade via the waterways. The tourist jetties to be set up at Pandu, Jogighopa, Neamati and Biswanath Ghat are likely to increase river-based tourism.
The PM laid the foundation stone for the four-lane bridge over Brahmaputra between Dhubri in Assam and Phulbari in Meghalaya. To be constructed at a cost of ₹5,000 crore, the 19km long bridge over Brahmaputra will be the longest river bridge in India and is expected to benefit 2 million commuters.
According to the Assam government, the bridge will improve connectivity among Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur and Tripura and will reduce the distance between Dhubri and Phulbari from 205km to 19km. The distance which used to take six hours earlier will now be reduced to 20 minutes.
Modi also performed the ‘bhumi pujan’ for the two-lane bridge on the Brahmaputra between Majuli, the world’s largest river island, and Jorhat. The bridge will connect Neematighat (in Jorhat) and Kamalabari (in Majuli).
“The Majuli-Jorhat bridge will address a long-standing demand of the people of Majuli who will now have road connectivity as well. The Dhubri-Phulbari bridge will not just reduce distance between Assam and Meghalaya, but will improve connectivity of Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura to Assam and also reduce distance to Bhutan and Bangladesh,” the PM said.
Foundation stone of the North East Data Centre at Guwahati, to be built at a cost of ₹350 crore, was also laid by the PM. The centre will act as a data hub for all states in northeast.
Addressing the gathering, union minister for road transport and highways Nitin Gadkari announced the start of a road network project in Majuli worth ₹8,730 crore that will improve connectivity of the island with neighbouring towns.
Thursday’s event is the continuation of the BJP-led state government’s recent announcements ahead of the assembly polls in Assam due in April-March.
On January 23, the PM had addressed a rally in Sivasagar and distributed land allotment certificates to 106,000 landless families. On February 7, he had addressed another rally at Dhekiajuli, laid foundation stones of two medical colleges and launched the Asom Mala road network project.