All weather Sela tunnel to give big boost to Army capabilities at LAC in Arunachal

Sela Tunnel (Screengrab from video tweeted by Union Minister Rajnath Singh)

Sela (Arunachal Pradesh) | The completion of the all weather Sela tunnel, an engineering marvel, is all set to give a big boost to the Indian Army’s capabilities at the Line of Actual Control in Arunachal Pradesh.

The Sela tunnel, located in West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh, will play a crucial role in bolstering national security with the movement of troops and heavy guns taking place throughout the year — which generally faces major issues during winters when roads are covered with snow.

A total of 50 engineers and 500 labourers are working to complete the project.

Situated at an altitude of 13,800 feet, the Sela tunnel on the 317 km long Balipara-Charduar-Tawang (BCT) route is the only tunnel in India that is being constructed at such an altitude.

Till now, the people have been using the Sela Pass road that connects West Kameng, East Kameng and Tawang districts of Arunachal Pradesh to the rest of the country.

Once the tunnel is completed, people will not have to use Sela Pass — which eventually can be developed as a tourist destination.

“It will reduces travel time by one hour and provides all weather connectivity to Tawang,” Colonel Parikshit Mehra, Project Director, told IANS.

After construction of the Atal Tunnel, Rohtang, which is the world’s longest highway tunnel at 10,000 feet and Umlingla Pass, the highest motorable pass in the world at 19,300 feet in Eastern Ladakh, the BRO is all set to complete Sela tunnel in record time.

Col Mehra said the Sela tunnel project is being executed by the Border Roads Organisation and consists of an approach road and two tunnels. Between tunnel one and tunnel two there is a 1200 meter approach road.

The first tunnel has two tubes — the main tube and an escape tube — of 1555 meters length. “The escape tube was broken through in July last year and the main tube on October 14 this year,” Colonel Mehra said.

Tunnel two is 980 meters long and is a single tube tunnel.”It was started on January 15 this year. Out of the 980 meters we have completed 780 meters and only 200 meters are left. We are trying our best that we do it before Army Day next year so that within one year we would have completed the excavation of this tunnel,” he said.

After tunnel one there is another approach road of about 7.1 kms where work is going on simultaneously. “We have got initial connectivity and there are some patches that we are still working on,” the officer said.

“This project is slated to be finished by next year and we are hopeful of completing it by June next year,” he said.

The existing BCT road climbs up the Sela pass and then goes towards Tawang. The road is on the snowline so when there is snowfall from December to February, it gets closed.

“It need massive effort to keep it open and even when it is open there is the huge effort of snow clearance. It becomes very problematic for those who are living in Tawang and for convoys to cross in those three months,” Col Mehra said.

Once the tunnel is complete it will give all weather connectivity with Tawang.

This state-of-the-art tunnel will prove to be a lifeline for not just Tawang but the entire state. Once the project is completed, around 4000 vehicles, including army convoys, will pass through daily.

IANS

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