India has become home to the longest railway bridge in the world, as the Chenab Bridge is about 29 meters (more than 95 feet) taller than the Eiffel Tower. The Chenab Bridge is located over the Chenab River in the controversial region of Jammu and Kashmir in India, at an altitude of 359 meters. , that is, 29 meters higher than the Eiffel Tower
According to CNN, after decades of construction, the bridge in northern India will be available to visitors by the end of December or January 2024, according to a press release issued by the Ministry of Railways in March.
The 1,315-metre long bridge is part of a wider project to make the Kashmir Valley accessible across the Indian railway network.
In addition to the Chenab Bridge, the project includes the country’s longest transportation tunnel and India’s first wire-rail bridge.
“New Delhi will see the bridge, the greater connection that it is supposed to create, as another great victory for the development of the region,” said Michael Kugelman, director of the South Asia Institute at the Wilson Center.
Experts say that linking Kashmir with the rest of India via railways will particularly boost the industrial and agricultural sectors in the region, by providing seasonal rail connectivity between the valley and the rest of India.
Previously, the only land road linking parts of Indian-controlled Kashmir with the rest of the country was the Srinagar-Jammu National Road, which is 300 km long and closed during winters, as well as frequent vehicular accidents.
For his part, Sushant Singh, a researcher at the Center for Policy Research in India, stated that the bridge also has political implications, as it is seen as “a way to integrate Kashmir with India.”
According to Singh, the “historic hope” is that railway connectivity, including the Chenab Bridge, will make Kashmir “feel more part of India”.
However, Singh told CNN that “it remains to be seen” whether the bridge and railway connectivity is viewed positively by Kashmiris, especially since “Kashmir has in recent years been deteriorating as a result of the policies taken by Prime Minister Modi and his government, which have really to their distaste.”
And in 2019, India scrapped a constitutional provision that gave the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir autonomy to make its own laws.
The region’s southern and eastern regions, formerly known as the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, became two independent union territories, a move Modi claimed would boost stability, curb corruption and boost the economy.
Kugelman said: New Delhi’s message, in the aftermath of that step, was that it would further exploit its control over Jammu and Kashmir to bring more developmental benefits, and would use the bridge as a prominent and eye-catching element in order to prove the effectiveness of its strategy.