Lt General DS Ahuja, commanding officer of an Army setup in Shillong, said enemies invariably target strategic bridges in a bid to snap communication and disrupt the movement of troops, supplies and weaponry.
The Army has asked the government to consider building tunnels akin to the English Channel under the Brahmaputra because bridges can be targeted by enemy forces.
This recommendation comes less than a week before Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurates the 9.15-km Dhola-Sadiya bridge over the Lohit – a tributary of the Brahmaputra – on May 26. Once opened, it will be the longest bridge in the country.
Lt Gen DS Ahuja, commanding officer of an Army setup in Shillong, said enemies invariably target strategic bridges in a bid to snap communication and disrupt the movement of troops, supplies and weaponry. “Bridges become primary targets during wars. We could do with tunnels under the Brahmaputra, which virtually divides much of the Northeast into equal halves,” he said at a two-day road show of the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) in the Assam capital on Monday.
Constructing two tunnels near Guwahati and Dibrugarh would be ideal, he added.
India has witnessed a palpable straining of ties with Pakistan and China in recent times, and air chief marshall BS Dhanoa has already asked IAF officers to be combat-ready.
While India already has three bridges across the river, a fourth – Bogibeel – is under construction.
The IWAI is also focussing on reviving river shipping, which was the most popular mode of transportation in the Northeast before India’s partition in 1947. An agreement on passenger and cruise services along coastal and protocol routes between New Delhi and Dhaka has fuelled hopes of reviving river routes in the region.
“We are promoting business opportunities in areas such as dredging and cargo service on the Brahmaputra through Bangladesh. We are also negotiating with Bhutan to establish transport facilities on rivers such as Aie, Beki and Manas,” IWAI chairperson Nutan Guha Biswas told HT.
An 891-km stretch of the Brahmaputra, from Dhubri in the west to Sadiya in the east, has been designated as national waterway no 1. Southern Assam’s Barak river, which caters to Mizoram and Manipur, is another important national waterway.