9 Mar 2024

Why Sela Tunnel inaugurated by PM Modi in Arunachal Pradesh so special and significant?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday inaugurated the Sela Tunnel in Itanagar, the capital of Arunachal Pradesh.

The Sela Tunnel project, constructed at a cost of about Rs 825 crore is an engineering marvel. It will provide all-weather connectivity to Tawang across Sela Pass on the Balipara - Chariduar - Tawang Road in Arunachal Pradesh. It has been constructed using the new Austrian Tunneling Method and incorporates safety features of the highest standards.

The project will not only provide a faster and more efficient transport route in the region but is of strategic importance to the country. The foundation stone of Sela Tunnel was laid by the Prime Minister in February 2019.

World's longest twin-lane tunnel

The construction marks the creation of the world's longest twin-lane tunnel, situated at an elevation exceeding 13,000 feet. It consists of Tunnel 1, a 980-meter-long single tube tunnel, and Tunnel 2, a 1555-meter-long twin tube tunnel. 

Tunnel 2 includes a bi-lane tube for regular traffic and an emergency escape tube.

The project is significant in providing a faster and more efficient transport route in the region and is strategically important for the country. Serving as a lifeline, the tunnel ensures year-round all-weather connectivity to Tawang.

The foundation stone for the project was laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 9, 2019. 

Strategic Significance

As tensions with China continues at the Line of Actual Control, the Border Roads Organisation has fast tracked the construction of the crucial Sena Tunnel. Analysts have noted the strategic significance of the project in addressing the lack of motorable roads and rail connections in Arunachal Pradesh, providing India with a competitive edge over China along the border in the northeast. 

The absence of such infrastructure in the past was considered a disadvantage for India. The Sela Tunnel, part of the Union government's efforts under PM Modi to improve infrastructure connectivity in the northeast, stands out as a strategically important initiative.

By ensuring all-weather connectivity to the contested Tawang region, the project addresses concerns raised by the presence of improved Chinese infrastructure along the border. The Sela Tunnel's new alignment toward the Line of Actual Control (LAC) ensures seamless movement for military personnel and equipment throughout the year. 

This development holds particular historical importance, given the clashes between Indian and Chinese forces in the Tawang town during the 1962 war, where the People's Liberation Army (PLA) overran Tawang on October 24.

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