Flights Of Fantasy
[ M Panging Pao ]
Recently, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated the strategically important Sisar or Sisseri bridge on 15 November. The bridge connects Dambuk in Lower Dibang Valley district and Pasighat in East Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh. The 200 metres long bridge has been constructed by Project Brahmank of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO).
During the inauguration ceremony, many speakers said that Dambuk was called ‘Kaala Pani’, in reference to the famous cellular jail in Port Blair of the Andaman group of islands, since it was regularly cut off from all sides every summer by the rampaging waters of the Sisseri and the Dibang rivers. The Sisseri bridge will ensure all-weather connectivity to and from Dambuk.
Recently, three more strategically and economically important bridges were also commissioned in the region, ie, the 6.5-km-long Bomjir bridge, connecting Roing/Tezu with Dambuk, the 9.15-km-long Bhupen Hazarika Setu (the longest river bridge in India), connecting Tinsukia/Dhola of Assam with Roing/Tezu of Arunachal, and the 4.95-km-long road-cum-rail bridge connecting Dibrugarh/Tinsukia/Jorhat of Assam with the northern bank of the Brahmaputra, including many districts of Arunachal Pradesh, like
East Siang, West Siang, Lower Siang, Upper Subansiri, and Papum Pare.
These key bridges have brought about a paradigm shift in terms of connectivity, giving a boost to economics and business. These bridges have cut down travel time between places by nearly 5-6 hours. Citizens can travel from Namsai/Tezu/Roing to Itanagar in shorter time through Arunachal.
Presently, orange, Valencia orange, kiwi and pineapple farmers from Arunachal have easy access to the vast markets of Assam’s towns. Ginger, cardamom farmers and bamboo/cane suppliers have access to the Assam markets. Similarly, Arunachalees have easy access to better items at cheaper rates from shops and wholesalers of Assam.
These bridges have strategic importance also. These bridges will allow quick mobilization and deployment of military equipment and troops from deeper bases to forward areas. This would strengthen our security preparedness.
However, the big jump has been in terms of connecting the communities between states and districts. Every weekend, tourists and revellers from Dibrugarh, Tinsukia, Sibsagar and Jorhat travel for weekend trips to Tezu, Roing, Pasighat, Aalo, Malinithan, etc, to enjoy the pristine and beautiful hills, valleys and streams of Arunachal. Similarly, Arunachalees travel to Dibrugarh or Tinsukia for shopping, business, better medical care, and for boarding flights to other cities. In fact, some Arunachalees travel just to see a movie or enjoy a pizza! These frequent interactions between the people from Assam and Arunachal would foster cultural relations and intercommunity bonds.
These bridges allow enthusiasts to have breakfast in Assam, lunch in Arunachal, and return for dinner and sleep in their homes in Assam. On the flip side, people from Assam have easy access to bamboo shoot and apong… and Arunachalees have access to pitha and gamusa! (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)