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Modi targets Congress for ‘delay’ in bridge construction, names it after Bhupen Hazarika

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Dibrugarh, May 26 (IANS) Inaugurating the longest 9.15 km bridge over a river in Assam here, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday made a veiled attack on the previous Congress-led UPA government, accusing it of delaying its construction even as he named the bridge after legendary singer Bhupen Hazarika.

"For five decades you people have been waiting for a bridge. That has now been inaugurated today (Friday)," Modi said while speaking after inaugurating the Dhola-Sadiya bridge over river Lohit, a tributary of river Brahmaputra — constructed at a cost of Rs 950 crore that will connect Assam with eastern Arunachal Pradesh.

The bridge will save travel of 165 km and time of six hours. The event marked completion of three years of the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre.

"If Atal Bihari Vajpayeeji had returned to power in 2004, then you would have got this bridge 10 years ago," he said.

He said the bridge would contribute to the development of the northeastern region.

"This bridge will bring about a new economic revolution," the Prime Minister said.

He also said the government was working to make the region a hub of economic activity. "This region can play a huge role in connecting India to Southeast Asia," Modi said.

Approval for the bridge was given by the Union Cabinet in 2009 under the UPA government. Its construction began in 2011, under the Tarun Gogoi-led Congress government in Assam.

Recalling how the concept of the bridge came about, Modi said that on May 29, 2003 an MLA from Assam’s Tinsukia district, Jagadish Bhuyan, wrote a letter to Vajpayee demanding a bridge in the area. "After his letter a feasibility report was sought by Atalji," Modi said.

"If work on the bridge had started instantly then it would have been completed 10 years ago," he said.

"But then another government (UPA) came to power due to which your dreams were delayed," Modi said, attacking the Congress.

The bridge cuts the distance between Rupai on NH-37 in Assam to Meka or Roing on NH-52 in Arunachal Pradesh by 165 km, limiting the travel time to just one hour.

"What Atalji dreamt for the northeast is being completed by the BJP government in last three years."

"Today the BJP government in Assam under Sarbananda Sonowal is completing just one year in office but the number of problems have come down," Modi said, in another attack on 15 years of Gogoi’s rule.

Union Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari, in his address earlier, said that development of the northeast region was the top priority of the BJP-led NDA government.

Listing out the achievements of the Modi government, Gadkari said the kind of work the BJP has done in the last three years in the northeast was "not done" even in last 10 years.

"This bridge will boost tourism in the region and give employment to the people here. This bridge will also help boost the economic development of the region," he said.

"We are committed to the development of the northeast. We are connecting different areas of the region with roads and waterways. We will soon start setting up floating terminals at 15 identified places on Brahmaputra river," he said.

Gadkari announced that they would be starting three more big bridge projects in different parts of the northeast. "We have also started various road and highway projects with estimated cost of Rs 40,000 to 50,000 crore," he said.

Earlier, Modi, on a day-long visit to the state, was received by Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, Governor Banwarilal Purohit and other dignitaries on his arrival at the airport.

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