Defence minister conducts final breakthrough blast of Sela tunnel in Arunachal Pradesh

The Sela tunnel would cut down the travel time between the Army's 4 Corps headquarters at Tezpur in Assam and Tawang by at least an hour.

Published: 14th October 2021 02:12 PM  |   Last Updated: 14th October 2021 10:28 PM   |  A+A-

Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh

Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh (Photo | EPS)

By Express News Service

NEW DELHI: Marking an important milestone towards important infrastructure construction in Arunachal Pradesh, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday presided over the breakthrough blast of the main tube of Sela Tunnel being constructed by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO).

The breakthrough blast of the main tube of the tunnel marks the end of its excavation. Work on the 980-metre long second tunnel of the project has already crossed the 700-metre mark.

Addressing the BRO personnel via Video Conference, Rajnath Singh said, “This state-of-the-art tunnel will prove to be a lifeline for not just Tawang but the entire state.”

The tunnel, once completed, will provide all-weather connectivity to Tawang and forward areas as it is going to avoid all the avalanche prone and snowfall areas. It will reduce the travelling time from Tezpur to Tawang by more than one hour as the travellers would be able to avoid the dangerous snow-covered 13,800 feet high Sela top. The Tunnel falls on the 317 km long Balipara-Charduar-Tawang (BCT) road connecting West Kameng, East Kameng and Tawang districts of Arunachal Pradesh to the rest of the country.

Tawang town inhabited by more than 50,000 people, called as the little Tibet by China, is one of the contentious areas which China claims as its own.

The tunnel will not only strengthen national security, but also augment the transportation facilities for the local people and consequently, boost their socio-economic conditions, he said.

Upon completion, the over 1.5 kilometre tunnel will be one of the longest bi-lane road tunnels in the world at an altitude above 13,800 feet. This unique tunnel constructed using the latest New Austrian Tunneling Method is much below the snow line allowing all weather travel without the challenges of snow clearance.

The construction work of the tunnel is expected to be over by June 2022.

"The breakthrough blast of the Sela main tunnel shows your (BRO's) hard work and your commitment towards the country's security and socio-economic development," the defence minister said. He also flagged off a motorcycle expedition of the BRO. Singh said 75 personnel of the BRO and the Army will participate in the motorcycle expedition that will cover a distance of 20,000 km passing through many states and Union territories.

The Sela tunnel would cut down the travel time between the Army's 4 Corps headquarters at Tezpur in Assam and Tawang by at least an hour.

Moreover, it would ensure that National Highway 13, especially the 171-km stretch between Bomdila and Tawang, remains accessible in all weather conditions.

In the 2018-19 budget, former Union finance minister Arun Jaitley had announced the Centre's plan to build a tunnel through Sela Pass, located at an elevation of 13,700 feet, which will ensure a faster movement of troops in Tawang, a strategically-located district bordering China. 

(With PTI inputs)


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