Manipur eyes tallest bridge as tourist attraction

Manipur eyes tallest bridge as tourist attraction

Manipur wants to project the world's tallest railway bridge being constructed in Noney district as a tourist attraction to create more jobs in the militancy-hit state.

Chief Minister N Biren Singh on Friday said a world-class tourist facility would be developed at Noney to attract tourists from across the world to the 141-meter tall rail bridge being constructed over Ijai river. 

Singh also said the state government would spend Rs. 30 crore to develop a tourist facility in each of the 60 Assembly constituencies and helicopter service would be expanded to help tourists visit the scenic hills and other tourist attractions.

The long problem of militancy has affected tourism in the state that has beautiful hills, archaeological properties and colourful lifestyle of various tribes. The state, however, witnessed increase in flow of foreign tourists due to decrease in militancy problem in the past few years. According to the state government, the number of foreign tourists visiting the state increased from 500 in 2014-15 to nearly 1,000 in 2018-19.

The bridge is being constructed by the Northeast Frontier Railways (NFR) near Noney as part of the 111-km Jiribam-Tupul-Imphal new broad gauge railway project. The pier with a height of 141-meter will surpass the existing record of 139-meter of Mala-Rijeka viaduct near Montenegro in Europe. Construction for the 703-meter long bridge began in 2014 and was subsequently declared a national project.

According to NFR officials based here, there are total 45 tunnels in the project--longest being 10.28-kilometre. 

The alignment of the railway line passes through steep rolling hills of the Patkai region in the eastern trail of the Himalayas. Jiriban, a small town situated along Assam-Manipur border is located at 37-meter above mean sea level while Imphal, Manipur capital is situated at 780-meter above mean sea level. It was decided to construct the tunnels of 54-km to maintain suitable gradient as the alignment will traverse through several deep gorges and several rivers flowing at low ground level.

The chief minister said in urban areas, tourist sites would come up in the form of cafeterias or eating joints while in rural and hill areas, scenic tourist place-cum-homestays would be developed. 

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