Excavation work for strategic Sela tunnel completed

ITANAGAR, 22 Jan: The Border Roads Organization (BRO) on Saturday completed the excavation work for the strategic Sela tunnel in West Kameng district.

On completion, the Sela tunnel, which is being built 13,000 feet above sea level, will be at the highest altitude in the country, BRO Vartak Chief Engineer Col Ajay Bhandari said.

“The final 980 metres excavation work completed the more than 4,000 cumulative excavation work for the project going on for the past two years,” he told PTI.

The project is slated to be completed by February, he said.

BRO Director General Lt Gen Rajeev Chaudhury carried out the blast on Saturday in an e-ceremony from New Delhi.

The strategic Sela tunnel is a part of the Trans-Arunachal Highway (NH 13) located at 13,800 feet altitude along the Bhalukpong-Dirang-Tawang route, which poses a tough challenge for commuters, particularly during winter, due to heavy snowfall.

The Centre had decided to build the 3,000 metres long Sela tunnel to ensure all-weather connectivity to Tawang, and gave the work to the BRO. Work began in 2019 to connect NH 13 with a new 12.4 kms long road to reduce the distance between Dirang and Tawang by 10 kms.

“On completion, the travel time to Tawang will decrease by one hour and serve as the lifeline for the Buddhist pilgrim town located along the Sino-India border,’ he said.

The T1 tunnel, excavation work for which was completed on Saturday, is a 980 metres long single tube tunnel and T2 is a 1,555 metres long twin tube tunnel. T2 has one bylane tube for traffic and one escape tube for emergencies.

The two tunnels together bypass the Sela Pass and maintain an elevation of 3,000 metres.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had initiated the final breakthrough blast for the T2 tunnel on 14 October last year from New Delhi.

The foundation stone of the project was laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2019 in the virtual mode, and the excavation work on T1 started on 15 January, 2021, Bhandari added. (PTI)