Guwahati, Nov 7 : The Saraighat bridge on the Brahmaputra not only connects the northeast with the rest of the country, but it has also been instrumental in strengthening the bond among the seven NE states. Built after a relentless struggle by the people of Assam, the rail-cum-road bridge completed 50 years of its existence recently.
Constructed at a cost of Rs 10.6 crore between 1959 and 1962 by Hindustan Construction Company, the bridge is still in good shape for future use, said experts.
Speaking on the golden jubilee celebrations of the Saraighat bridge organized by the Railways here, Assam governor J B Patnaik and chief minister Tarun Gogoi on Tuesday spoke highly of the role played by the bridge in ushering in a new era in the history of the region.
Patnaik suggested that the bridge be renamed as Lachit Borphukan bridge. Borphukan was the general of the Ahom army which had resisted the entry of the Mughals beyond Gauhati (now Guwahati) in the Battle of Saraighat in 1671.
"The contribution of the Saraighat bridge in improving the lives of the people of Assam and in the development of the northeast is immense. The first goods train had passed the Saraighat bridge on October 31, 1962. It is the lifeline of the Railways and connects the region with the rest of India," said Nripen Bhattacharya, public relations officer of NF Railway.
Along with railway technicians, experts from IIT Guwahati who had examined the bridge just before the completion of 50 years said the bridge was in fine condition, he said.
The bridge proved to be of immense help during the Sino-Indian war, which broke out soon after completion of the Saraighat bridge.
"The bridge was just completed. As the Indian soldiers were braving the bullets of the Chinese, arms and ammunition along with food items were being transported to the battle front by means of the Saraighat bridge. The bridge has also played a vital role in the economic growth of Assam's economy," said historian Kumudeswar Hazarika.
The Saraighat bridge stretches for 4258 ft and the double-line meter gauge line, which had been laid down in 1959, was converted to single broad gauge track later. The road on the bridge is 24 ft wide. There is a six ft wide pavement on either side.