Environment and national interest

During his 9 February visit to Itanagar, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for the Sela tunnel in Tawang district. When it is completed, the tunnel will provide all-weather connectivity to Tawang valley for civilians as well as security forces.
During his speech, the prime minister said the tunnel would reduce travel time to Tawang by an hour and boost tourism and related economic activities in the region. The Press Bureau of India in a statement said that, once completed, the tunnel would result in all-weather connectivity to Tawang and forward areas, and that travellers would be able to avoid the dangerous snow-covered Sela Top (at a height of 13,700 feet).
The government feels that all-weather connectivity to Tawang would give the security forces the required strategic edge. The project is estimated to cost Rs 687 crore, and will be constructed by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO). The total distance of 12.04 kms will consist of two tunnels, of 1790 and 475 metre length, respectively, and is scheduled to be completed in the next three years.
Though the tunnel might boost the movement of the defence forces, it will come at an environmental cost. Therefore, it is necessary for the BRO to ensure that there are least damages to the environment. In the name of nation-building, often the environmental concerns have been forgotten in Arunachal. It is time to relook at the policies, so that environment becomes the priority.