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Bogibeel bridge inauguration in October: Piyush Goyal

The longest rail-cum-road bridge of Asia at Bogibeel will also be a connectivity boost for defence forces; funds earmarked for 100 per cent electrification of railways in NE; no plans to privatize the Indian Railways

GUWAHATI, June 11: Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal on Monday announced that the much-awaited Bogibeel bridge over the Brahmaputra will be opened for public in October this year.

Inauguration of the Bogibeel bridge over the mighty Brahmaputra in Dibrugarh district, which will be the longest rail-cum-road bridge of Asia, has already missed several deadlines. Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had laid the foundation stone of the bridge way back in 2002.

Interacting with reporters through video conferencing at 12 cities including Guwahati on Monday afternoon, Goyal said the present regime at the Centre is committed to inaugurating the Bogibeel bridge in October. He said the erstwhile regime at the Centre was responsible for not opening the bridge on time.

Apart from the obvious fame of it being the longest rail-road bridge, the Bogibeel bridge will be important for Assam and other parts of the Northeast for several reasons. It will connect the north and south banks of the Brahmaputra in the eastern region of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. The 4.94-km-long long bridge will be a big boost for the defence forces as it will provide faster connectivity to areas near the India-China border.

Goyal, while responding to a question of creating employment opportunity for the youths of Assam by the Indian Railways, said there will be 1 lakh new jobs in the Railways and the youths of the State can apply for such jobs. Recruitment for new jobs will be done in a very transparent manner, he said, adding that his ministry will set up a coaches maintenance facility in Assam. Out of the 1 lakh jobs, 4,000 will be for the NF Railway.

On the other hand, Union Minister of State of Railways Rajen Gohain, while speaking to reporters at the NF Railway headquarters here on Monday, said the Railways is planning to expand its network in the entire Northeast including Arunachal Pradesh. He asserted that all the northeastern States will be connected by rail network soon as survey and construction works are going on in most of the States except Meghalaya where no land has been provided to the Railways by the State government for laying railway line.

He hoped that the Arunachal Pradesh Government will resolve the issue of land compensation involving laying of broad-gauge line from Murkongselek in Assam to Pasighat in Arunachal Pradesh at the earliest.

According to Gohain, the Centre has earmarked Rs 2,353 crore for 100 per cent electrification of railways in the Northeast.

Earlier, Goyal, while highlighting various achievements of the Indian Railways during the last four years, said that there has been an increase of 59 per cent in the average pace of commissioning of new lines from 4.1 km per day between 2009 and 2014 to 6.53 km per day during 2014-2018.

“There are no plans to privatize the Indian Railways,” Goyal said, adding that there are no proposals for such a move and it will not happen in the future as well.