AKAJAAN (DHEMAJI), July 8 � It was perhaps the only bridge in the world where road and rail pass on the same level. The steel bridge of North East Frontier Railway over river Simen in the remote Akajaan area of Dhemaji district, bordering Arunachal Pradesh has been used also as road bridge since its construction four decades ago. The NH-52 passes over this rail bridge connecting Arunachal Pradesh with rest of the country. Its daily picture was quite unique � vehicles on the NH-52 passed through this rail bridge between the rail tracks flattened by wood and tar. It was a one-way traffic and vehicles coming from one side of the bridge have to wait till the vehicles entering from the one side pass through. And when the train comes, road traffic on the either side of the bridge was halted until it passes over. The train too has to pass that Simen bridge in dead slow speed because of the old age and fragile condition of the bridge which too created a heavy shaking and rattling sound creating panic to any person who witnessed that for the first time.
That Simen bridge with road and rail had, however, long been playing an important role by connecting Arunachal Pradesh with the rest of the nation, particularly for the movement of troops and military hardware to the Sino-Indian border areas. But that old war horse was always exposed to the elements � closed during the monsoon when the Simen river is in spat. This affected the civilians and defense forces alike.
Finally, a road bridge over the same river was constructed which was inaugurated by the Minister of State for Defense Dr MM Pallam Raju on July 5 last, beginning a new era in the surface transport scenario not only in Assam but also in the entire North-east.
Dedicating the 480-m-long bridge across river Simen on Akajan-Jonai-Pasighat road (NH 52) to the nation, minister Dr Raju said that opening of this bridge with National Highway Double Lane specifications would usher in a new era of development to the civil population, army and paramilitary forces and a host of other agencies working for infrastructure development of the region.
The minister also remarked that opening of this bridge would facilitate early completion of Broad Gauge Rail Conversion Project between Rangiya and Murkongselek. He said that the existing rail-cum-road bridge had been a major bottleneck for smooth flow of the road traffic.
The minister congratulated the construction team of BRO for their dedicated efforts in completion of this challenging bridge, where the works continued even in monsoons. The bridge has been constructed at a cost of Rs 24 crore. Dr Raju also hailed Lakhimpur MP, Ranee Narah for her consistent effort at various levels of the government and the Parliament for the construction of the road bridge over river Simen.
Speaking on the occasion Narah said that she had been demanding the construction of all 14 wooden bridges on NH-52 in that region into RCC bridges since 1998 and that bridge over river Simen had been her top most priority. She said that the bridge constructed by BRO would end the daily problems of the people of both Assam and Arunachal Pradesh and speed up economic development in that remote region.