Strategic Sela tunnel near LAC in Arunachal likely to open in October

The passage located in West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh will be one of the longest tunnels
FILE - Arunachal Governor Trivikram Parnaik visits the Sela Tunnel. (Photo | ANI)
FILE - Arunachal Governor Trivikram Parnaik visits the Sela Tunnel. (Photo | ANI)

NEW DELHI: Pushing for greater connectivity in the Eastern Sector of the Line of Actual Control with China, the construction work by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) on the strategically important Sela Tunnel is in advanced stages.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is scheduled to inaugurate the smaller Nechifu Tunnel, which is on the same road route to Tawang, ahead of the Sela Tunnel. Sources told this newspaper that around a month’s work remains for the Sela Tunnel.

The Sela Tunnel Project is located in the West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh. Once complete, it will provide all-weather connectivity to Tawang. The project comprises Tunnel 1, which is a 980 m long single tube tunnel and Tunnel 2, which is a 1555 m long twin tube tunnel. Tunnel 2 has one bylane tube for traffic and one escape tube for emergencies. It will also be one of the longest tunnels to have been constructed above an altitude of 13,000 feet. 

The project also includes the construction of an approach road of 7 km to Tunnel 1, which takes off from Balipara-Charduar-Tawang (BCT) Road and a link road of 1.3 km, which connects Tunnel 1 to Tunnel 2.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for the Sela Tunnel Project on Feb 9, 2019. The tunnel once complete will avoid all 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 13,700-ft high Sela top.

Tawang town is inhabited by more than 50,000 people, called as Little Tibet by China. It is one of the contentious areas which China claims as its own. At present, there is a lone highway that connects Tawang with Guwahati and the rest of the country in winter.

Not even helicopters can fly in that area due to bad weather conditions. The Border Roads Organisation is currently executing multiple important projects spread across the country. The aim is to match the buildup of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army across the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

The project with an initial cost of Rs 687 Crore being constructed by the Border Roads Organisation would be completed in the next three years. The entire project sanctioned in October 2018 covers a total distance of 12.04 km which consists of two tunnels of 1,790 m and 475 m with approach roads of 9.75 km.

There has been a push for road connectivity towards the 3,488 km-long Line of Actual Control which is divided into the Western Sector (Ladakh), Middle Sector (Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand) and Eastern Sector (Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh). The work on three tunnels in Arunachal Pradesh, four in Jammu and Kashmir and one in Ladakh is in various stages of construction, sources said. For connectivity in Uttarakhand, a tunnel is planned towards Mussoorie in an area called Zig-Zag, said the sources.

Once complete, it will be able to handle the operations by the strategic airlift aircraft like the C-130J, C-17 and the ILs, along with the fighter operations. This airstrip is within 40 km distance from the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh and will give capability to the Indian Air Force to launch swift operations. 

Related Stories

No stories found.

The New Indian Express