India opens its longest bridge, linking north-east to disputed state
India’s longest-ever bridge was inaugurated on Friday, linking the country’s north-east to Arunachal Pradesh, a territory claimed by China.
The 9.15-km bridge over the Brahmaputra River will reduce travel time to the disputed territory by around five hours.
Its inauguration was timed to mark three years of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.
China claims Arunachal Pradesh is part of southern Tibet, thus Chinese territory.
It has protested India’s decision to allow Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama to visit the region and developing infrastructure there.
“This bridge will open the doors for economic development of India’s north-east on a big scale.
“Good connectivity will also link the region with the economy of South-East Asia,’’ Modi told a public rally at the site, named after Assamese singer-poet Bhupen Hazarika.
Media reports said the bridge would help India’s military forces access the border with China, adding that it was designed to facilitate the movement of 60-tonne battle tanks.
Frontier disputes between the Asian giants are a legacy of a border war in 1962 and have not been resolved in spite of numerous rounds of talks.
Modi is however expected to launch more infrastructure projects in Assam later.
His Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party came to power on May 26, 2014, after a landslide victory on promises of boosting economic growth, curbing corruption and creating jobs.
The main opposition Indian National Congress has attacked the Modi government, saying it had failed to live up to its promises, with India seeing ‘jobless growth’ and an agrarian crisis.