Guwahati: Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has a dream to construct an underwater road-cum-rail tunnel across the mighty Brahmaputra in the state. He wished that the project might be completed within his tenure.
“I have a dream to build underwater road-cum-rail tunnels between Pachigaon (Jamugurihat) and Kaliabor tea estate (Silghat). The project may cost around Rs 7000 Crore,” Sarma said.
Sarma’s vision, however, was a result of Centre’s ambitious plan to construct the country’s first underwater road-cum-rail tunnels in the state. Earlier, the road and railway ministries in collaboration with Border Road Organisation (BRO) has decided to execute the proposed tunnels as a part of the country’s strategic move and boost transport infrastructure.
The chief minister added that the proposed tunnels would not only serve the people of the state but would play a vital role in case of any emergency or war like situation.
“If any war like situation arises in future and enemy country bombs the Koliabhomora Setu or other brides over Brahmaputra to disrupt connectivity between the two banks of the river, these tunnels would be crucial to provide smooth movement of our defence forces,” Sarma said.
Currently, there are 5 bridges across the Brahmaputra river.
As per sources, the proposed tunnel would take off from about 9 km upstream of the existing Kaliabhomora (Tezpur) road bridge and it would connect Jakhlabandha railway station on the south bank and Dhaliabil Railway station on the northern bank of Brahmaputra.
Army sources informed that the proposed project likely to have three parallel tunnels– one for road, another for rail and the third one for emergency use, according to the plan. The proposed tunnels will be constructed using tunnel boring machines. An estimated 2-3 years would be needed to complete the project.
“These tunnels will be inter-connected with cross passage for evacuation in case of any emergency and can be used for both civilian and strategic purposes. Using the Jamurihat Silghat network, the strategic multi-modal transportation system plans to integrate the rail as well as highway networks towards the North Assam, Tawang and the rest of Arunachal Pradesh bordering China,” sources added.
Earlier National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL), a company under the road transport ministry, had proposed twin tunnels only for vehicles and had estimated an expenditure of Rs 12,800 crore.
“I am not announcing about it but it’s an ambitious dream and I hope with Centre and Defense ministry support, it would see the daylight within my tenure as chief minister,” Sarma added.