Bridge to troubled waters?

Assam government says Bogibeel bridge might cause floods

Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

the North Eastern Frontier Railways (nefr) and the Assam government have locked horns over the construction of the Bogibeel rail-cum-road bridge on the Brahmaputra, 17 kilometres (km) downstream Dibrugarh. The government has refused to issue a no-objection certificate (noc) for constructing the bridge unless nefr agrees to bear the maintenance cost of the embankments that fall in the affected zone downstream. It fears the bridge's construction, which involves constricting the river at certain places due to which the river flares up downstream, might damage the embankments and increase the risk of floods in some areas. But nefr has decided to go ahead with the construction anyway.

"The government has sprung this onto us rather unexpectedly. We have the necessary approval from the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs," said a source in North Eastern Frontier Railway Construction Organisation (nefrco) . "The ancillary work for the project has begun and this new development will not affect the construction work," he added.

The government made its stand known through a statement in the second week of April 2005 and asked the railways to survey the riverbank to understand the long- and short-term effects of the construction. " nefrco in their construction plan have not taken into consideration the adverse effects of constricting the waterway on the embankments," claimed A K Dutta, commissioner and secretary, Department of Water Resources, Assam government. "This construction may lead to the inundation of Majuli, a river island situated 55 km downstream the proposed site. We have learnt from previous experiences that such bridges can cause heavy losses in the already flood prone areas downstream. Adequate measures have to be taken. We will not issue an noc till we receive assurance from the railway department on this count," Dutta added.

A similar bridge at Kaliabhomora, near Tezpur, has already increased the severity of floods in Morigaon district. The Sataighat Bridge near Guwahati has also caused severe erosion at places in Kamrup and Nalbari districts.

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