DHUBRI, Feb 18: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday virtually laid the foundation stone of two bridges in Assam, which included the much awaited 19-km-long bridge from Dhubri to Phulbari in Meghalaya.

The foundation stone laying ceremony at Adabari village, which is almost 8 km from here, was attended by State ministers Chandra Mohan Patowary, Bhabesh Kalita and Phani Bhushan Choudhury, Dhubri Lok Sabha MP Badruddin Ajmal and MLAs of Dhubri district.

Modi in his speech pointed that the Dhubri-Phulbari bridge will improve connectivity of not only the two connecting areas but also that of Barak valley and will reduce distance between Assam and neighbouring states of Meghalaya, Manipur and Mizoram. “Now the distance between Meghalaya and Assam by road will be reduced to just 19-20 km from about 250 km,” he said.

Speaking on the occasion, Assam Transport Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary acknowledged that Ajmal had raised the issue of a bridge over the Brahmaputra at Dhubri in Parliament as well as before the authority concerned many a time.

“But only the governments under Narendra Modi and Sarbananda Sonowal have taken the matter seriously, due to which the day has come today when we are seeing a dream coming true and we will see the longest and the biggest bridge in the entire country here between Dhubri and Phulbari,” he said.

Patowary said no other government had given importance to the undivided Goalpara district, “but under the guidance of Chief Minister Sonowal and Prime Minister Modi, we are seeing multiple development projects coming up in the area.”

The minister also spoke about various other projects of the Centre and the State that are under way in western Assam that “will soon become a corridor of connectivity with Southeast Asia.”

Ajmal in his brief speech said it was a historic day for Dhubri and the Prime Minister deserves thanks for accepting the long standing demand of the people from Dhubri and Meghalaya. “I wrote 38 letters to the Union ministry pressing for this demand of the people for the bridge and I raised the issue in the Parliament 16 times... Today, I feel like a dream is coming true,” he said.

At the same function, the Prime Minister, under the ‘Mahabahu Brahmaputra’ programme, inaugurated the Ro-Pax vessel operations between Dhubri and Hatsingimari. He said this will strengthen water connectivity on the Brahmaputra, besides giving a boost to tourism in the State.

The Ro-Pax vessel MV Bob Khathing that is capable of carrying hundreds of people and dozens of vehicles will reduce a road distance of 220 km between Dhubri and Hatsingimari to just 28 km on the Brahmaputra waterway, resulting in huge saving of travel time.

The four-lane bridge over the Brahmaputra between Dhubri and Phulbari will be located on the NH-127B, originating from Srirampur on the NH-27 (East-West Corridor), and terminating at Nongstoin on the NH-106 in Meghalaya. To be built with a total cost of approximately Rs 4,997 crore, the bridge will meet the long-standing demand of the people from Assam and Meghalaya who depend on ferry services to travel between the two banks of the Brahmaputra.