The Sela Tunnel project in Arunachal Pradesh, which is strategically important, is approaching completion. After a final blast earlier this year signaled the end of excavation, the project reached a critical phase. The Sela Tunnel, which will be completed by the end of this year, will increase all-weather access to the Line of Actual Control with China.
The Border Roads Organisation is in charge of the project, which comprises two tunnels and a connector road. While Tunnel 1 will be a single tube 980 meters long, Tunnel 2 will be 1,555 metres long, with one bi-lane tube for traffic and one emergency escape tube running alongside. The road connecting the two tunnels will be 1,200 meters long.
Tunnel 2 will be one of the world’s longest tunnels, stretching over 13,000 feet in length. The project also includes the building of a 7-kilometer approach road to Tunnel 1 from BCT Road, as well as a 1.3-kilometer connection road between Tunnel 1 and Tunnel2. The project’s entire length, including the tunnels, approach, and connection roads, will be roughly 12 kilometers.
The tunnel project, which is located in Arunachal Pradesh’s West Kameng district, would give an additional axis to the Sela pass, which is at 13,700 feet. It will be on the BCT Road, which spans more than 300 kilometers and connects Balipara, Charduar, and Tawang. The project is expected to cost Rs 700 crore.
The project’s most significant benefit will be all-weather connection to Tawang and other forward locations in the sector. Sela pass is now closed for a few winter months. The project will create a new alignment on the axis leading to the LAC, allowing military and civilian vehicles to travel throughout the year.
The government highlighted three benefits when it laid the project’s foundation stone in February 2019, including “all-weather connectivity to Tawang and forward areas,” a reduction in “more than one hour of travel time from Tezpur to Tawang,” and travellers avoiding “dangerous snow-covered Sela top at a height of 13,700 feet.”
“All-weather connectivity to Tawang would be a game-changer for the local populace ahead of Sela, apart from providing our security forces with a much-needed strategic edge,” it had said.
The ability to cross the area during the winter months is more important than the time saved during transit.
The project is almost finished. The first explosion of Tunnel 1 took place in January 2021, after the PM placed the foundation stone in 2019. In January of this year, the last blast for the 980-meter Tunnel 1 was fired, marking the “culmination of the excavation activities on the whole Sela Tunnel Project.”
In the meanwhile, the Tunnel 2 breakthrough burst took place in October of 2021.