IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


11th March, 2024 Geography


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Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the strategically significant Sela Tunnel project during his day-long visit to Arunachal Pradesh on March 9.


The connectivity at present

  • At present, two separate routes connect Tezpur and Tawang: Balipara-Chariduar-Tawang (BCT) and Orang-Kalaktang-Shergaon-Rupa-Tenga (OKSRT), which meet at Sela Pass and merge into one route to Tawang.
  • There are plans to construct two alternate routes to Tawang, one of which is still on the drawing board.
  • The operational Tezpur to Tawang route has three major passes – Nechiphu, Bomdila and Sela.
  • While the road passing through Bomdila was kept open throughout the year, there were foggy stretches at Nechiphu, and snow at Sela that would cut off Tawang.

The Tunnel

  • Built with a total cost of ₹825 crore by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), the tunnel is situated at an altitude of 13,700 feet in West Kameng district on the road connecting Tezpur to Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Sela is the country's highest tunnel providing all-weather connectivity to the strategic Tawang region and other forward areas bordering China near the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
  • The tunnel will also reduce more than one hour of travelling time from Tezpur to Tawang. ​Travellers would be able to avoid the dangerous snow-covered Sela top at a height of 13,700 feet, according to a statement from Prime Minister's office. ​

The Project

  • The project is world’s longest twin-lane tunnel built at an altitude of above 13,000 feet.
  • It comprises Tunnel 1, which is a 980 m long single tube tunnel, and Tunnel 2, which is a 1555 m long twin tube tunnel.
  • Tunnel 2 has one bi-lane tube for traffic and one escape tube for emergencies.
  • It also includes the construction of an approach road of seven kilometres to Tunnel 1, which takes off from BCT Road, and a link road of 1.3 kilometres, which connects Tunnel 1 to Tunnel 2.

Engineering Marvel

  • It is an engineering marvel and will provide all-weather connectivity to Tawang across the Sela pass on the Balipara -Chariduar- Tawang Road in Arunachal Pradesh.
  • The tunnel was built using the new Austrian Tunnelling Method and incorporating 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 tunnel will be a lifeline as it will provide all-weather connectivity to Tawang.
  • The foundation stone of the Project was laid by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 9 2019.
  • On January 15, 2021, after the first blast was conducted, the excavation work on Tunnel 1 commenced. On October 14 2021, Defence Minister carried out the breakthrough blast of the 1,555 meter Tunnel 2, through an e-ceremony from India Gate, marking the end of excavation on Tunnel 2.

Strategic Significance

How the new Sela Tunnel boosts readiness at China border

  • The lack of motorable roads and rail connections in Arunachal Pradesh were seen as distinct disadvantages for India vis à vis China along the border in the north east. And China building infrastructure including access roads right up to the Indian border gave it a strategic advantage.
  • In the past few years, Union government has seen improved infrastructure connectivity in the northeast with new airports and railway connections coming up in the region. The Sela Tunnel, is one such project and thus strategically important.
  • The project provides all-weather connectivity to the Tawang region — the part contested by China which describes it as a part of the ancient territory.
  • Both tunnels are designed in such a way that all Army equipment, including large artillery pieces like the Bofors guns, tanks like the T-90 and Vajra howitzers, can easily travel through it all-year round, while also cutting down on time.
  • This tunnel will also ensure that the Chinese are not able to monitor traffic movement in the area.
  • The Sela Pass, at 13,700 feet, is currently visible to the Chinese and hence can observe all kinds of military movement.
  • The tunnel is part of the major infrastructure push government in the Northeast as part of its efforts to strengthen both offensive and defensive capabilities along India’s borders with China.


India’s neighbourhood relations revolves around the China Evaluate. 150 words