by Shaurya Karanbir Gurung

NEW DELHI: This week two strategic bridges were inaugurated in eastern Arunachal Pradesh, opening up another way in the area to the Line of Actual Control. Like the two, there are close to 150 strategic bridges being constructed in the state to provide quick mobility to troops and supplies towards the LAC and act as alternative routes in case one gets destroyed during a conflict.

Bridges are an important requirement of Arunachal, because the area is prevalent with rivers, including the Brahmaputra tributaries, besides Nallahs.

Due to monsoon and flash floods, most of the state's border regions are cut off. These bridges will ensure all-year connectivity to the strategic roads located along the LAC in the state. A similar border infrastructure for better connectivity is also being done in the neighbouring state of Sikkim, following the Doklam standoff.

MOST BRIDGES IN STATE 

The Border Roads Organisation (BRO), under the Defence Ministry, is constructing 410 bridges of strategic importance for stronger connectivity to the 3440- km long LAC from Ladakh to Arunachal. Arunachal has the most number of bridges-144 out of 410- due to its rivers and problems of monsoon.

Out of 144, 75 are under construction and will be completed by 2020. Out of 75, about seven located at Lower Dibang Valley and Lohit districts are nearing completion.

Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre inaugurated the 300m-long Deopani Bridge on December 12. It is located over the Deopani River in Ro-ing-Hunli road and links Lower Dibang Valley with Upper Dibang Valley and Assam. The bridge is important because during monsoon the two districts are cut off from each other. It will also connect further north to Mipi and Dembuen at the LAC.

The second bridge inaugurated by Bhamre is the Injupani Bridge between Roing and Paya in the Lower Dibang Valley. South of Roing is the 9.15 km long Dhola Sadiya Bridge constructed across Lohit River.

The bridge which is on the Tinsukia (Assam)- Roing road was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May. "Merely having the Dhola Sadiya bridge for connectivity in the region was not enough, therefore the Deopani Bridge among others had to be constructed," explained the official. Located west of the DeopaniBridge is Pasighat in Arunachal's East Siang district.

The BRO is connecting Pasighat with Roing by constructing a 5.7 km -long bridge, which is to be completed by March 2018. Pasighat will get connected to Dibrugarh, Assam, located south of it, by the Bogibeel Bridge across the Brahmaputra. And Dibrugarh is connected to Tinsukia.

"So it's a loop connec-ting Lower Dibang and Upper Dibang with East Siang and Assam," explained another official. Dibang is also connected with its eastern neighbouring district, Lohit, by a series of 10 bridges. Only one is left to be completed, which will be achieved by March next year, says the BRO. Tinsukia through the Alubarighat Bridge also connects with Lohit and Anjaw districts, including their bordering areas. Located east of this region is Upper Siang, which borders the LAC.

About 12 bridges are under construction here from Pangin to Gelling (located at the LAC). There are also same number of bridges from Along to to Yorlung in West Siang. Further east of the Siang district is Daporijo, which also has about 12 bridges moving up to the LAC.

Even western Arunachal's Tawang district has about 15 bridges under construction from Balipara in Assam up to Tawang.

Along the Remaining LAC 

Arunachal's neighbouring state, Sikkim, has about 40 bridges under construction. "The infrastructure development here has taken off at a fast pace in the past few months. Work is also going on at a strategic location in North Sikkim and nearby areas," said another official.

In Jammu and Kashmir there are about 100 bridges under construction, besides 25 and 55 in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. "Out of the 410 bridges having a length of 22 km, 150 are under construction and we are completing 3 km length of bridges every year," said an official.

All of them are two-laned road bridges and of class 70, meaning it can bear very heavy loads, including of tanks. Its these bridges connected with the strategic roads leading to the LAC that ensure the connectivity and movement of forces in a large strength and that too on schedule. The multiplicity will also help confuse the enemy of routes being taken by the troops.

The work on the bridges which started about a decade ago, however, has its challenges. It ranges from limited working periods due to weather and to dealing with construction issues and limited expertise in it.

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