Explained: Strategic importance of Sela Tunnel in Arunachal Pradesh

PM Modi inaugurated the twin-lane passageway today


Prime Minister Narendra Modi, today, inaugurated the strategically important Sela Tunnel, along with a host of other projects worth Rs 55,600 crore spread across Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh, at a programme in Itanagar.

The tunnel, constructed by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) at an altitude of 13,000 ft and at a cost of about Rs 825 crore, will provide all-weather connectivity to Tawang across Sela pass on the Balipara-Chariduar-Tawang Road in Arunachal Pradesh, a statement said.

Specifications of the Sela Tunnel

The construction work was completed in five years, and is said to be the world’s longest twin-lane tunnel above 13,000 ft. It consists of two tunnels - Tunnel 1 of 980m and Twin Tube Tunnel 1,555m long, with 8.6km approach and link roads. The second tunnel has an escape tube adjacent to the main one as per international norms. In case of emergency, this escape tube can be used for the movement of rescue vehicles and evacuation of stranded people.

The tunnel has been designed for a traffic density of 3,000 cars and 2,000 trucks per day with a maximum speed of 80 km/hr. It was constructed using the New Austrian Tunneling Method (NATM).

Strategic importance of Sela Tunnel

Lack of road and rail connectivity in in Arunachal Pradesh have always been a disadvantage for India, with China breathing down its neck at the border, having better infrastructure to and along the LAC, thus giving it a strategic advantage. The earlier route to Sela pass had only single-lane connectivity, and heavy vehicles and container trucks could not go to Tawang because of the treacherous terrain.

The Sela Tunnel is one of the several high-altitude infrastructure that India is building to enhance connectivity to areas close to the Line of Actual Control (LAC). It will help the Indian Army mobilise resources quickly in case of an emergency in the Tawang sector, irrespective of the weather. The tunnel will facilitate Army movement in an area where India lost to China in the 1962 war.

It will also reduce the travelling time between Tawang and Tezpur by an hour.

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