After Sela tunnel, focus shifts to other key border infra projects | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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After Sela tunnel, focus shifts to other key border infra projects

ByRahul Singh, New Delhi
Feb 24, 2024 07:56 AM IST

The Sela tunnel project has been completed in five years despite various challenges including climate, geography and especially the Covid-19 pandemic, he said

The completion of the Sela tunnel project in Arunachal Pradesh to boost military mobility and logistics support for deployed forces in the Tawang sector has brought into focus several other key projects being implemented by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), which is at the centre of India’s forward infrastructure push, in the country’s remote corners.

PM Narendra Modi is expected to inaugurate the tunnel soon, the world’s longest twin-lane tunnel above 13,000 feet, built at a cost of <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>700 crore on the Balipara-Charduar-Tawang road (HT)
PM Narendra Modi is expected to inaugurate the tunnel soon, the world’s longest twin-lane tunnel above 13,000 feet, built at a cost of 700 crore on the Balipara-Charduar-Tawang road (HT)

These projects include roads, bridges, airfields and tunnels.

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“BRO has consistently expanded its spectrum of works beyond roads and bridges. After the Atal tunnel’s completion in Himachal Pradesh in 2020, there has been a surge in tunnel construction. We are currently constructing 10 tunnels, and another 18 are planned,” a BRO spokesperson said.

The Sela tunnel project has been completed in five years despite various challenges including climate, geography and especially the Covid-19 pandemic, he said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to inaugurate the tunnel soon, the world’s longest twin-lane tunnel above 13,000 feet, built at a cost of 700 crore on the Balipara-Charduar-Tawang road.

Talking about the ongoing projects, the BRO official said work on providing alternative connectivity to Daulat Beg Oldi in eastern Ladakh --- India’s northernmost military base --- was in advanced stage and would be completed soon. Several key sections of the Sasoma-Saser La-Saser Brangsa-Gapshan-DBO road were completed last year. The existing 255-km Darbuk-Shyok-DBO (DS-DBO) road runs close to the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

BRO is pushing ahead with key projects in the Ladakh sector amid the ongoing military standoff with China, including the Nimu-Padam-Darcha road, the Likaru-Mig La-Fukche road and the Nyoma airfield.

Work on the Nimu–Padum-Darcha road, which will become the third all weather road to Leh after the Srinagar-Zojila-Kargil-Leh road and Manali-Leh road, is also in an advanced stage and connectivity will be achieved by March 2024, the spokesperson said.

“BRO has completed 330 infrastructure projects at a cost of 8,737 crore in the last three years, and significantly improved the strategic mobility of our armed forces along the northern borders (with China),” he said.

The completion of the Sela tunnel project, whose foundation stone was laid by Modi in February 2019, has put spotlight on India’s border infrastructure push aimed at bridging the gap with China, which has fast-tracked the development of its forward areas.

The successful completion of the Sela tunnel reflects positively on BRO’s capabilities and expertise in executing complex infrastructure projects in challenging terrain and adverse weather conditions, said military affairs expert Lieutenant General Harpal Singh (retd), who headed BRO during 2018-20 and retired as the army’s engineer-in-chief a year ago.

“It demonstrates the organisation’s engineering prowess, project management skills, and dedication to overcoming logistical and operational challenges. Moving forward, some priority projects for the BRO include development of roads and tunnels in other strategic sectors along the border to improve connectivity and mobility for defence forces,” Singh said.

Equally important is the upgradation and maintenance of existing infrastructure to ensure operational readiness and reliability, and implementation of innovative technologies and construction methods to expedite project timelines and reduce costs, he added.

The Nyoma airfield, the alternative route to the DBO, the Shinkula tunnel, the Nimu-Padam-Darcha road, and the Chushul-Dungti-Fukche-Demchok road are among the key projects that BRO is executing, said Lieutenant General Rajeev Chaudhry, who retired as BRO chief last year.

The upgradation of the Nyoma airstrip to a full-fledged base for fighter operations is being spearheaded by a crew of women officers and the project is expected to be completed by September 2025. “It will bolster our logistical capabilities in the strategically important eastern Ladakh sector. BRO will complete this challenging project in just two working seasons,” the spokesperson said.

Defence minister Rajnath Singh, who remotely laid the foundation stone of the Nyoma airfield in September 2023 while inaugurating 90 other projects, had then said the airfield, one of the world’s highest, would be a “game-changer” for the armed forces while stressing that timely execution of projects in far-flung areas had become “the new normal of New India.”

BRO has completed the construction of 59 of the 61 strategic roads assigned to it near the Chinese border in Ladakh, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, as previously reported. The two remaining roads --- the Munsiyari-Milam road in Uttarakhand and the Banga-Janga-Gompa to Naga GG road in Arunachal Pradesh --- are expected to be ready by 2025.

These 61 roads together account for a total length of 3,417 km.

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