Why Sela Tunnel in Arunachal is important; Know more about this strategically significant project

The Sela Tunnel project is being executed by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO).

Sela Tunnel
The Sela Tunnel project entered a decisive phase after a final blast marked the culmination of excavation earlier this year. (representational image)

The Sela Tunnel project in the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, which is strategically significant, is nearing completion. The Sela Tunnel project entered a decisive phase after a final blast marked the culmination of excavation earlier this year. Once the Sela Tunnel project is completed, which is likely by this year-end, the Sela Tunnel above 13,000-ft will give a boost to all-weather connectivity to the Line of Actual Control with the neighbouring country China, according to an IE report. The Sela Tunnel project is being executed by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO). Know more about the Sela Tunnel project:

What does the project include?
It includes two tunnels as well as a link road. Tunnel 1 will be 980 metres long single-tube. While Tunnel 2 will be 1,555 metres long with one bi-lane tube for traffic as well as one escape tube for emergencies running alongside. Between the two tunnels, there would be a link road which will be 1,200 metres. According to the report, the second tunnel will be one of the longest tunnels to have been constructed above 13,000 feet altitude. Also, the project involves the development of an approach road of 7 kilometres to Tunnel 1, which takes off from BCT Road, as well as a link road of 1.3 kilometres, which links Tunnel 1 to Tunnel 2. The project’s total length, including the tunnels, the approach as well as the link roads, will be around 12 kilometres.

Where is the project being constructed?
The tunnel project, located in the district of West Kameng, Arunachal Pradesh, will provide an alternate axis to the Sela pass, which is situated at 13,700 feet. According to the report, it will be on the BCT Road – the Balipara, Charduar and Tawang axis, which is over 300 kilometres long. The project’s estimated cost is Rs 700 crore.

Why is the Sela Tunnel project important?
The Sela Tunnel project promises all-weather connectivity to Tawang as well as other forward areas in the sector. At present, Sela pass stays closed for a few months during the winter season. The Sela Tunnel project will offer a new alignment on the axis towards the LAC, as well as allow the movement of military and civil vehicles throughout the year.

The government, while laying its foundation stone in February 2019, had highlighted three major benefits- All weather connectivity to Tawang as well as forward areas; reduction in travel time from Tezpur to Tawang and travellers avoiding the dangerous Sela top at 13,700 feet height.

What’s the progress of the project?
The Sela Tunnel project is close to completion. After the PM had laid the foundation stone in 2019, Tunnel 1’s first blast was done in January 2021. In January this year, the final blast for the 980-metre Tunnel 1 was carried out. In the interim, for Tunnel 2, the breakthrough blast was conducted in October 2021. According to the report, by October 2021, almost 50% of contractual work had been completed. The excavation had already been wrapped up for Tunnel 2 and its parallel escape tunnel, while the work was 80% complete for Tunnel 1 back then.

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