North India’s first 592-metre-long cable-stayed bridge over the Ravi river in the Basohli area of Kathua district will be inaugurated after the Parliament session.
“The bridge has been completed and is ready for inauguration. It will be inaugurated after the Parliament session,” said a top officer of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO).
As per the calendar issued by the Lok Sabha Secretariat, the Parliament session will end on December 23.
The BRO, which has executed the project at a cost of Rs 14,543.52 lakh, had awarded the work to a joint venture of IRCON and Singhla Constructions Private Limited.
“The date has not yet been finalised but it (bridge) will be inaugurated before December 31. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar is likely to throw it open for public,” the BRO officer said.
The state government will be extending an invitation to the Centre.
“Though it is likely to be inaugurated by the Defence Minister, the possibility of (inauguration by) Prime Minister Narendra Modi cannot be ruled out,” he added.
The Basohli bridge is situated on the Dunera-Basholi-Bhaderwah road.
At present, the Pathankot-Jammu-Srinagar highway (NH-44) is the only prominent surface link that maintains communication and supplies to the Kashmir valley with rest of the country.
“The Defence Ministry and armed forces in J&K have been long mulling over an alternate axis to Kashmir and in 1998, it was decided to develop the Pathankot-Dhar-Dunera-Basohli-Bani-Bhaderwah-Doda-Anantnag road into a double-lane national highway,” said the BRO officer.
“To have an additional axis to Srinagar from Pathankot, the bridge was indispensable,” he said, adding that it will be strategically important for quick induction of armed forces during any contingency.
The bridge will provide a link between Pathankot and Basohli and shorten the distance between them by more than 35 km. It will also provide a direct access to Kishtwar and Doda districts from Pathankot.
The entire load of the bridge and vehicles moving on it will be borne by 96 cables supported by two towers raised on the banks of the Ravi.
India’s first cable-stayed bridge is Vidyasagar Setu over the Hooghly in Kolkata. After this, three more cable-stayed bridges were constructed. The Basohli bridge is the fifth cable-stayed bridge in the country.