In a significant development aimed at bolstering connectivity in the Eastern Sector of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China, the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) is making substantial progress on the strategically vital Sela Tunnel Project.

The impending inauguration of the smaller Nechifu Tunnel, situated on the same route to Tawang, reflects India’s commitment to improving connectivity in this strategic region. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is scheduled to inaugurate the Nechifu Tunnel ahead of the much-anticipated Sela Tunnel. With just about a month’s work remaining, the Sela Tunnel Project is poised to become a game-changer in the region.

The Sela Tunnel Project, located in the West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh, holds immense strategic significance. Once completed, it will provide all-weather connectivity to the town of Tawang, a region inhabited by over 50,000 people and known as “Little Tibet” by China. Tawang has been a contentious area, with China making claims over it. Currently, the region is accessible only via a single highway, which becomes perilous during winter due to heavy snowfall and avalanches.

The Sela Tunnel Project comprises Tunnel 1, a 980-meter-long single tube tunnel, and Tunnel 2, a 1555-meter-long twin tube tunnel. Tunnel 2 consists of one traffic lane and one escape tube for emergencies. Notably, Tunnel 2 will be one of the longest tunnels constructed at an altitude exceeding 13,000 feet. The project also includes the construction of a 7-kilometer approach road to Tunnel 1, branching off from the Balipara-Charduar-Tawang (BCT) Road, and a 1.3-kilometer link road connecting Tunnel 1 to Tunnel 2.

Once operational, the Sela Tunnel will substantially reduce travel time from Tezpur to Tawang, saving over an hour of travel by avoiding the hazardous snow-covered Sela top, which stands at an altitude of 13,700 feet. Moreover, the project will enhance the region’s accessibility during adverse weather conditions when even helicopters cannot operate.

The construction of the Sela Tunnel Project aligns with India’s push for greater road connectivity along the Line of Actual Control. India is making concerted efforts to match the build-up of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army along the LAC. This initiative, with an initial cost of Rs 687 Crore, is set to be completed within the next three years, further bolstering India’s strategic infrastructure in the region.