According to the government, the Sela tunnel will be the world's longest twin-lane tunnel above 13,000 feet, reducing travel times to Tawang by at least one hour, and providing all-weather connectivity. The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) is implementing the project, which was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2019.
According to BRO officials, construction quality is the top priority, not finishing work.
Sela tunnel is located in Twang near the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China Border at 13,000 feet in Arunachal Pradesh.
The project consists of Tunnel 1, 980 meters long, and Tunnel 2, a 1,555-metre twin tube tunnel. The tunnels are coming up through two ridges west of Sela. They also include the construction of two roads measuring 7 km and 1.3 km. There is one bi-lane tube for traffic and one escape tube for emergencies in Tunnel 2. An escape passage must only be along tunnels longer than 1,500 meters.
It will bypass the existing road and connect Baisakhi to Nuranang. The Sela tunnel cuts through the Sela-Charbela ridge, which separates the Tawang district from the West Kameng district.
According to the officials, the tunnels will be ready by February 2023, and the roads by April 2023, marking the completion of the project.
In winter, the army's access to Tawang over the 14,000-foot Sela pass posed a logistical challenge, as men, weapons, and stores were severely hindered for at least three to four months per year.
As part of the ongoing border standoff with the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA), India is building infrastructure in eastern Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh at a rapid pace for better living conditions and improved facilities for soldiers, preserving modern weapons and equipment deployed there, and supporting the faster movement of men and material to deal with any contingency.
Upon completion of the tunnel, the road will remain open for all 12 months, allowing the reserves to deploy quickly, and the population won't be cut off from the mainland, said military affairs expert Lieutenant General Shokin Chauhan (retd).
Sela tunnel construction involves more than 50 engineers and 500 workers using Austrian tunneling techniques, which involves observing and studying the rock, and designing tunnel support accordingly.
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