NEW DELHI, Feb 18: The Dhubri-Phulbari bridge is expected to dramatically improve access from Bhutan to Bangladesh via India, facilitating movement of people and goods as well as flow of ideas, said Matsumoto Katsuo, chief representative of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in India.

“This bridge project is expected to bring about many development impacts, including reduction of travel time, improving markets and services, promoting development of rural agricultural sector and provision of employment opportunities,” he said.

Since 2008, Japan through its funding agency JICA has extended approximately Rs 16,174 crore as concessional ODA (official development assistance) loans for development projects in the northeastern region of India, enhancing connectivity being a priority area of support.

Japan has already extended approximately Rs 10,239 crore over Phase 1 to Phase 4 of the North East Road Connectivity Improvement Project to help develop and improve national highways in the northeastern states, he said.

Meanwhile, Japanese Ambassador Satoshi Suzuki said, “It is my honour to congratulate the foundation laying ceremony of the prestigious Dhubri-Phulbari bridge project. I am proud that Japan is able to make contributions to such an important project.”

He said the Northeast of India is situated where India’s ‘Act East Policy’ and Japan’s vision of a ‘Free and Open Indo-Pacific’ converge. “Japan has been supporting development in the Northeast of India through the ‘Act East Forum’ and has been a strong proponent of projects, including road connectivity improvement, water supply and wastewater treatment, forest management, etc.,” he added.

Japan is providing a financial support of approximately Rs 1,573 crore to the Dhubri-Phulbari bridge under the North East Road Connectivity Improvement Project Phase 3(l).