New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday inaugurated the Bogibeel Bridge in Assam and dedicated it to the nation. Considered as India’s longest railroad bridge, the 4.94-km double-decker structure spans over the river Brahmaputra connecting Dibrugarh and Dhemaji districts of the state.

“Bogibeel Bridge is not just a bridge, it is a lifeline for crores of people in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh," said Modi while addressing a massive public meeting in Kareng Chapori, on the northern bank of the river. The bridge comes as a Christmas gift for the over five million people living in the two states, as it reduces commuting time by four hours.

The bridge was a dream for generations, and is now a reality, said Modi. Besides providing rail connectivity, it will link two existing national highways—NH-37 on the south bank and NH-52 on the north bank. It will also enhance the national security of the eastern region of India by facilitating swift movement of military personnel and equipment.

Modi also flagged off the first passenger train passing through the bridge, which comprises a three-lane road on the top and a double-line railway track on the lower deck.

The foundation stone of the project was laid by former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda in January 1997, but work began only in April 2002 under former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Originally scheduled to be opened in 2009, the project missed several deadlines.

“If former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had a second term, Bogibeel Bridge would have been ready by 2008-09," said Modi while remembering the late BJP leader. 25 December also happens to be the birth anniversary of Vajpayee. Modi added that the day is also celebrated as “Sushaasan Divas" or “Good Governance Day".

Modi said for the past four-and-a-half years, his government has pursued the objective of good governance, and added the historic Bogibeel rail-cum-road bridge, is a symbol of this objective.

Seeking to corner the Congress party in the AgustaWestland case, PM Modi said his government managed to make some progress in the case. “Four years ago, nobody would have imagined that a man who was involved in a helicopter scam would be brought to India. Our government managed to do it."

The AgustaWestland case refers to a deal for 12 luxury choppers during the previous United Progressive Alliance government. India is investigating charges that Christian Michel, the alleged middleman, had organized bribes to push a 3,600-crore contract for the helicopters.

Economic development has been a key part of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government to its “Act East" policy which is looking to push the economic agenda, especially with respect to long-pending infrastructure projects.

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