Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday inaugurated the country's longest rail-cum-road bridge over the Brahmaputra river at Bogibeel near Dibrugarh in Assam.
The prime minister, who reached Dibrugarh in the afternoon from New Delhi, flew directly to Bogibeel in a chopper and dedicated the 4.94-km-long double-decker bridge to the nation from the south bank of the river.
After greeting people, standing on the foothold of his vehicle, Modi deboarded the car and walked a few metres on the bridge along with Assam Governor Jagdish Mukhi and Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal.
The prime minister crossed the bridge in his cavalcade to the north bank of Brahmaputra, where he will flag off the Tinsukia-Naharlagun Intercity Express.
The train will run five days a week. The 4.9-km bridge will cut down the train-travel time between Tinsukia in Assam to Naharlagun town of Arunachal Pradesh by more than 10 hours.
Modi is scheduled to address a public rally in Dhemaji district later in the day. The strategically important bridge, which begins at Dibrugarh and ends at Dhemaji districts of Assam, will remove communication bottlenecks to several districts of Arunachal Pradesh.
The Bogibeel Bridge, which was a part of the Assam Accord and sanctioned in 1997-98, is also likely to play a crucial role in defence movement along the India-China border in Arunachal Pradesh.
The foundation stone of the project was laid by former prime minister H D Deve Gowda on January 22, 1997, while work commenced on April 21, 2002, under the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led government. The Congress-led UPA government had declared it a national project in 2007. December 25 happens to be Vajpayee's birth anniversary.