North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

[op-ed snap] A bridge across the Brahmaputraop-ed snap


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Importance of infrastructure development in Northeast India


Bogibeel bridge inaugrated

  1. Bogibeel, the longest railroad bridge of India, spanning nearly five-km across the Brahmaputra was inaugurated recently
  2. It will link Dibrugarh with North Lakhimpur district of Assam and parts of eastern Arunachal Pradesh
  3. For thousands of poor people, living in eastern Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, this is truly a momentous occasion

Why the bogibeel bridge is important?

  1. For decades, the only recourse for people to cross the Brahmaputra would be to chug along for over an hour, in a diesel-propelled ferry, which would also carry their vehicles and goods, even cattle
  2. Crossing the river could be a costlier proposition than flying between Mumbai and Goa
  3. Commissioning the bridge has reduced the journey time across the river to less than five minutes, bringing relief to people living in these remote parts

New era for northeast India

  1. The single biggest factor which has shackled the development of the Northeast region is the absence of robust connectivity
  2. A maze of river systems across Arunachal Pradesh, with their confluence in the Brahmaputra, have posed an enormous challenge
  3. The commissioning of Bogibeel, therefore, is a harbinger of hope
  4. The bridge’s significance goes well beyond the succour to local residents
  5. It has the potential to infuse economic dynamism in the region and provide opportunities for the expansion of tourism, industrial development and trade
  6. The iconic Bhupen Hazarika bridge over the Lohit river was commissioned recently
  7. A 7.5 km long bridge over the Dibang river was dedicated to the nation a few days ago
  8. The Trans Arunachal Highway has seen considerable progress, especially in the eastern part of the state
  9. An airport has been commissioned at Pasighat, barely two hours away from Dibrugarh

Dibrugarh connectivity is essential

  1. Dibrugarh is reclaiming its lost glory
  2. It used to be a thriving centre of the plantation industry during the colonial times
  3. For the people of the region, it remains a hub of higher education and medical treatment
  4. Dibrugarh lies at the heart of a crucial oil and gas axis in Assam, given its proximity to Digboi and Duliajan oilfields
  5. Further east lie the Kharsang gas fields and Kumchai oilfields of Arunachal Pradesh. The district also has significant coal deposits
  6. There are more than 200 tea factories in Dibrugarh
  7. Commissioning of the bridge has raised the prospects of industrial development and opportunities of productive employment for the youth, especially in the mining and plantation sectors

Foreign policy implications

  1. Bogibeel is the gateway to the historic Stilwell Road, which connects Ledo in Assam to Kunming in China, passing through Myanmar’s Kachin state, via Arunachal Pradesh
  2. The 1,800 km long route was used for transporting arms to the Chinese by the Americans during World War II
  3. Its revival for trade is well within grasp now
  4. The route could well become the centrepiece of the ambitious Act East Policy

Strategic importance

  1. From a strategic standpoint, movement of troops has become a much quicker, efficient and reliable proposition
  2. The road beyond Dibrugarh leads to the frontier parts of Arunachal Pradesh, with a fully functional advanced landing ground of Air Force at Walong, barely 100 km from the Chinese border
  3. This was a theatre of armed incursion in 1962. Now access to one of the remotest border outposts in Anjaw has been made much easier

Way forward

  1. Bogibeel is poised to usher winds of change in this part of the world
  2. However, the advantage of connectivity must be accompanied by an imaginative blueprint of economic development, drawing upon the region’s advantages
  3. The symbolism of Bogibeel goes well beyond the Brahmaputra

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