Se-la Tunnel: Key strategic LAC infrastructure near Tawang set to open on March 9

Team India Sentinels Sunday 3rd of March 2024 01:22 PM

The Se-la tunnel during its construction. (India Sentinels file photo.)

New Delhi: The long-awaited and strategically important Se-la tunnel in western Arunachal Pradesh, near the line of actual control (LAC), is set to open for traffic on March 9. The prime minister, Narendra Modi, will inaugurate the key border infrastructure, which will provide all-weather connectivity to the crucial border town of Tawang from Assam.

China claims Tawang as part of its so-called “South Tibet”, hence claims the whole of Arunachal Pradesh as its territory.

About the Se-la tunnel project

The Border Roads Organization (BRO) constructed the road tunnel below the snow line, at 3,000 metres (9,800 feet) above sea level. Construction began on October 15, 2020.

The project faced several challenges due to harsh weather conditions, including cloudbursts, landslides, and the Covid-19 pandemic. It missed two deadlines – June 2022 and November 2023 – despite achieving the final breakthrough on Tunnel 1 in January 2022.

The tunnel, built below the Se-la (Se pass), will provide all-weather connectivity between Assam's strategically important Assam cities, like Tezpur and Guwahati, to Arunachal Pradesh's Tawang. Se-la is located at 4,170 metres (~13,700 feet) above sea level, which is above the snow line.

The tunnel comprises two sections measuring 475 metres (1,558 feet) and 1,790 metres (5,870 feet) in length, connected by a short open road. It passes through the Se-la-Charbela ridge, separating the Tawang district from the West Kameng district (Dirang circle). A new 12.4-kilometre road will connect the tunnel to National Highway-13, shortening the distance between Tawang town and Dirang village by 10 kilometres.

The two-lane tunnel, with one lane for each direction, holds immense strategic importance for India. The BRO used the latest New Austrian Tunneling Method (NATM) under Project Vartak. It will reduce travel time for Indian troops moving from the garrison town of Tezpur in Assam to Tawang by at least one hour. Additionally, it will make NH-13 an all-weather road to Tawang, which usually gets cut off during winter due to heavy snowfall. The tunnel will also make the 171-kilometre road between Bomdi-la and Tawang accessible year-round.

The tunnel is further expected to boost tourism in the Tawang sector, which experiences a decline during winters due to inaccessibility caused by heavy snowfall.


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