Arunachal's Sela tunnel project to be completed by year-end

Updated on May 16, 2022 04:44 AM IST

The Sela tunnel, announced by the government in 2018, will be the longest twin-lane tunnel above 13,000 feet in the world, and will cut down travel time to Tawang by at least one hour as well as provide all-weather connectivity.

A general view of the Sela tunnel is pictured that is under construction near Sela Pass, which will lead to Tawang near the Line of Actual Control (LAC), neighbouring China, in India's Arunachal Pradesh state on October 21, 2021. (Photo by Money SHARMA / AFP) (AFP)
A general view of the Sela tunnel is pictured that is under construction near Sela Pass, which will lead to Tawang near the Line of Actual Control (LAC), neighbouring China, in India's Arunachal Pradesh state on October 21, 2021. (Photo by Money SHARMA / AFP) (AFP)
By, New Delhi

The Sela tunnel project in China-bordering Arunachal Pradesh that will allow faster deployment of weapons and soldiers to forward areas in the Tawang sector has been delayed due to a prolonged winter that slowed down construction activity, and it is now expected to be completed by the year-end, people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

The 700-crore project was earlier expected to be completed by June 2022.

“The project has been slightly delayed due to an extended winter. The area witnessed heavy snow till April. The project should be over by October-November,” said a senior officer aware of the matter, asking not to be named.

The Sela tunnel, announced by the government in 2018, will be the longest twin-lane tunnel above 13,000 feet in the world, and will cut down travel time to Tawang by at least one hour as well as provide all-weather connectivity.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation of the project in 2019.

The project consists of Tunnel 1, which is 980 metres long, and Tunnel 2, a 1,555-metre twin tube tunnel. The tunnels are coming up through two ridges west of Sela. It also includes the construction of two roads, measuring seven km and 1.3 km.

Tunnel 2 has one bi-lane tube for traffic and one escape tube for emergencies. Only tunnels longer than 1,500 metres have to have an escape passage alongside.

Winter connectivity to Tawang over the 14,000-foot pass, Sela, posed a logistics challenge for the army for decades, with the movement of men, weapons and stores severely affected for at least three to four months, as previously reported.

The Sela tunnel is a part of the Balipara-Charduar-Tawang road, one of the key strategic projects near the Chinese border.

“Once the tunnel is ready, the road will remain open for 12 months of the year, it will allow speedy military deployment for the reserves and the population will no longer get cut off from the mainland,” said military affairs expert Lieutenant General Shokin Chauhan (retd).

More than 50 engineers and 500 workers are directly involved in the construction of the tunnel using latest Austrian tunneling techniques, which involve observing and studying the rock, and designing tunnel support according to rock behaviour.

Around 4,000 army and civilian vehicles are expected to use the tunnel daily. Its dimensions will support the movement of all types of army vehicles and military hardware including the Bofors guns that currently have to be towed to forward areas by Scania trucks.

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