While Prime Minister Narendra Modi was busy strengthening diplomatic bridges in Afghanistan, India’s north got its first cable-stayed bridge in Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir which will benefit tourism and bolster defence.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar opened to the public the bridge over the River Ravi that’ll connect two states – Himachal Pradesh and Punjab – to J&K.
The Defence Minister was accompanied by Army Chief General Dalbir Singh and Union Minister Jitender Singh at the inauguration of ‘Atal Setu’.
The bridge named after former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee is situated on Dunera-Dukhniali-Durban-Basohli-Bhadharwah road.
It is the fourth of its kind in India after Bandra-Worli sealink in Mumbai, Naini Bridge in Allahabad, and Vidyasagar Setu in Kolkata.
The 592-metere bridge is unique because of its engineering. A joint venture of Indian Railway Construction Company Limited (IRCON) and SP Singla Construction group, the bridge 350 metres of the bridge is cable-stayed.
The bridge connects Basohli in J&K with Dunehra in Punjab, reducing the distance to Pathankote from 100 km to 45 km. At the same time, the bridge brings Dalhousie in Himachal Pradesh as close as 45 km from the earlier 180 km.
A top-view of the Atal Setu at the time of construction.
The UPA-II government initiated the construction of the bridge but it happened only after people of Basholi protested after 22 villages went under the water due to the construction of the Ranjit Sagar dam.
Work started in September 2011 and finished a month ahead of schedule.
Constructed by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) Atal Setu cost Rs.145 crore. It is a joint venture of Indian Railway Construction Company Limited (IRCON) and SP Singla Construction group.
Infinity Engineers, a Canadian company, prepared the design which was approved by IIT-Delhi.
Officials said these bridges have a low centre of gravity which makes them efficient in resisting earthquakes.
“Cable-stayed bridges provide outstanding architectural appearance due to their small diameter cables and unique overhead structure,” they added.
But the Defence Minister is not in the mood to sit on laurels. He has already agreed to look into a prospect of construct around 25 tunnels across J&K to not only improve road connectivity but also to ensure that roads are open in the State throughout the year.