After NHs and major bridges, connectivity focus in Assam's Lakhimpur shifts to peripheral routes

While it took over 20 years for completion of the rail-cum-road Bogibeel bridge over the Brahmaputra, the people are more optimistic regarding the bridges under construction at present.
Last Updated : 16 April 2024, 09:36 IST
Last Updated : 16 April 2024, 09:36 IST

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North Lakhimpur: For the people of Lakhimpur, separated from the rest of Assam by the mighty Brahmaputra and with several other major tributaries crisscrossing through the part that lies on the downstream of Arunachal Pradesh, roads and bridges have long remained major demands before the governments.

While it took over 20 years for completion of the rail-cum-road Bogibeel bridge over the Brahmaputra, the people are more optimistic regarding the bridges under construction at present, especially at Ghunashuti over Subansiri and Kharkati-Fatasuti over Ranganadi, which locals claim will further accelerate economic development of the entire northern bank of the Brahmaputra.

The current BJP-led regime has also focussed on improving waterways simultaneously, exploring the navigational potential of the rivers that define a crucial part of the identity of Lakhimpur.

"Earlier, election issues used to focus on providing basic connectivity to our parts with the rest of the state. But this has changed now with the Dhola-Sadiya and Bogibeel bridges opened over the last few years," Pranjal Dutta, a local businessman, said.

"Now, the government is focussing on providing intra-district connectivity as well as to neighbouring districts through multiple points," he added.

Local youth Prince Konwar cited the example of Ghunashuti- Lakhimpur bridge over the Subansiri, which the people have been demanding since the 1950s.

"It takes 10-11 hours to travel to Sivasagar now, but once this bridge is completed by next year or so, it will be a matter of about an hour to reach there," he said.

The bridge at Kharkati over Ranganadi is another such crucial development, which will turn North Lakhimpur town into a hub of economic activities in the region, Dutta maintained.

"At present, the commercial hubs are Dibrugarh and Tinsukia mainly due to easier connectivity. But when these two bridges, along with a few others, are completed, the economic activities will shift towards here. The fact that we share a long border with Arunachal Pradesh will also further boost trade," he claimed.

In case of intra-district connectivity, Dutta said three bridges over the Jiadhol, Kumotia and Samorajan rivers in Lakhimpur-Dhemaji inter-district border within a one-kilometre radius has brought much relief to the local people.

"This area is along the Lakhimpur-Dhemaji district and people would be under flood waters for most of the year. The construction of roads and these three bridges after a scientific study has proved to be a boon for them," he claimed.

Abhijit Sonowal, who is the district chairman for the implementation of a central government project for tribal welfare, said these improvements in connectivity has made life easier for the general people.

"Earlier, people had to travel for hours to reach hospitals or higher educational institutes. But now, the travel time that went up to 11-12 hours on occasions, has been cut by more than half," he maintained.

A tourist-cum-cargo Inland Waterways Transport terminal by the bank of the Brahmaputra at Bogibeel in Dibrugarh that is being developed will also help economic activities in Lakhimpur.

A section of local people, however, claim that it is only the major roads that have been developed, but the interior roads remain in an abysmal condition.

"The people still have to travel through very bad roads to reach the main roads. Schools, offices are situated in the interiors also. We can't call it complete development until all roads are equally improved," maintained Prasanta Hazarika, a resident of North Lakhimpur town.

Irshad Alam, who stays on the outskirts of the main town, added, "Those living even maybe 1-2 km away from the national highway have to commute through bad roads to reach the main point. In further remote areas, the condition is worse."

Lakhimpur MP Pradan Baruah, who is seeking a third successive term as a BJP candidate, maintained much work has been done in case of the national highways and the interior roads are also being covered now.

"So far as the NH are concerned, we try to ensure that there are no potholes and we remind the ministry for regular maintenance. The roads remain in more or less good condition," he said.

The village roads are being covered under various government schemes and there has been considerable improvement in connectivity to the interior parts, he claimed.

"Train and waterways networks are also being developed simultaneously and this is helping in socio-economic development of the area," the MP added.

Published 16 April 2024, 09:36 IST

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