Srinagar [Jammu and Kashmir], May 2: India’s engineering prowess in building the world’s tallest railway bridge in Jammu and Kashmir has come in for special mention by the Global TV network, CNN.
The Chenab Rail Bridge, constructed 359 metres (around 109 feet) above the Chenab River in Jammu and Kashmir region, is some 35 metres taller than the Eiffel Tower.
The Ministry of Railways has said that the bridge will be open to visitors by the end of December 2023 or January 2024.
The 1,315 metre-long bridge is part of a broader project which aims to make the Kashmir valley accessible by the Indian Railway network. Apart from the Chenab Rail Bridge, The Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link (USBRL) project also includes what is set to become the country’s longest transportation tunnel and Indian Railways’ first cable bridge.
For Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Chenab Rail Bridge and the broader rail link project can be seen as a powerful tool for social integration and political influence, connecting disparate regions with key cities.
Michael Kugelman, director of the South Asia Institute at the Wilson Center said, “The bridge and the greater connectivity it’s meant to create will be projected by New Delhi as another big victory for the region’s development.”
The report published in CNN read, connecting Kashmir with the rest of India by train will significantly boost the region’s industrial and agricultural sectors by allowing all-weather rail connectivity between Kashmir Valley and the rest of India.
Previously, the winding 300-kilometre (185-mile) Srinagar-Jammu national highway–which is frequently the scene of car accidents and closes for part of the winter–was the only land route connecting Kashmir with the rest of the nation.
Anil Kumar Mehendru, vice president of the New Kashmir Fruit Association told, “We are getting a lot of problems going across the road,” adding, “Once we will be connected by train with the rest of India, it will be a big boost to this industry, agriculture as well as fruit.”
The bridge also has political implications, as it’s seen as a “means of integrating Kashmir into India,” said Sushant Singh, a senior fellow at the Centre for Policy Research in India.
The Indian Railways on April 5, 2021, completed the Arch closure of the iconic Chenab Rail Bridge, the world’s highest railway bridge, which is part of the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla rail link project (USBRL).