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Jammu Kashmir

Posted at: Dec 25, 2015, 12:30 AM; last updated: Dec 24, 2015, 10:58 PM (IST)

Atal Setu opens, to improve connectivity with HP, Punjab

592-metre-long bridge to boost inter-state trade, tourism activities

Ravi Krishnan Khajuria

Tribune News Service

Jammu, December 24

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar today inaugurated the strategically important 592-metre-long cable-stayed bridge ‘Atal Setu’ on Ravi river near Basohli in Kathua district that will provide close connectivity to three states — Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab. 

The bridge lies on Dhar-Dunera-Basohli-Bani-Bhaderwah-Doda-Anantnag road — an alternative axis to Kashmir.

Parrikar was accompanied by Minister of State in Prime Minister’s Office Jitendra Singh and Health Minister Lal Singh, who is Basohli MLA. Amongst the military dignitaries present for the inauguration ceremony were Chief of Army Staff General Dalbir Singh, Western Command GOC Lt Gen KJ Singh and Director General, Border Roads, Lt Gen RM Mittal.

‘Atal Setu’, an engineering marvel, is the fourth bridge of its kind in the country. The other three cable-stayed bridges are Hooghly Bridge at Kolkata, Naini Bridge in Allahabad and Rajiv Gandhi Sea Link in Mumbai.

The bridge will act as a catalyst for further development of the region with payoffs in terms of providing alternative connectivity to Doda and rest of the Kashmir Valley in addition to the existing NH-44, said a defence spokesperson. It will lead to a surge in commercial and tourism-related activities in the area, including water and adventure sports, thus contributing towards empowerment of the local populace.

Militarily, the strategic bridge on the Pathankot-Doda axis, will help quick induction of armed forces to Kashmir and improve the overall security calculus of the region during war and emergency situations.

The foundation stone of the bridge was laid on May 23, 2011, by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi. It was designed by Canadian Company `Infinity Engineers’ and 96 cables weighing nearly 300 ton were procured from Japan and Spain.

Considered to be an engineering marvel, the bridge has a tower height of about 88 metres above the deck level. There will be 1.5 metre wide footpaths on both sides. It took five years to complete the bridge.

Earlier while speaking at inaugural function, Parrikar said this year the Border Roads Organisation had completely come under the Ministry of Defence and its efficiency had increased. Earlier it was under the Ministry of Surface Transport.

‘Reducing influence of IS on youth’

Talking to mediapersons after inaugurating the bridge, Defence Minister Manokar Parrikar on Thursday said efforts of the BJP-led NDA government to stop youths from getting influenced by the Islamic State were on and had started yielding results. He said the Centre had started communicating with the youth getting attracted to IS ideology and tried to reduce their number considerably. On ISI mole in the Army vis-à-vis espionage racket unearthed by the Delhi Crime Branch, he said: “We have tightened our security apparatus to prevent any leakage of information in future.”

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