Taming the Himalayas: BRO’s round-the-clock push to connect Tawang with Sela Tunnel at 13,000 feet

Sela Tunnel
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High up in the Himalayas, amidst challenging terrain and harsh weather conditions, the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) is working tirelessly to complete the Sela Tunnel project. This ambitious undertaking promises to revolutionize connectivity to Tawang, a strategically important district in Arunachal Pradesh, bordering China.

Currently under construction at an astounding altitude of 13,000 feet, the Sela Tunnel will be the longest bi-lane tunnel in the world at this altitude. The Sela Tunnel is on the brink of completion, with the Border Roads Organization (BRO) having accomplished 90 percent of the construction work.

This significant infrastructure endeavor aims to improve connectivity in the Tawang district and is scheduled for inauguration later this month by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Once operational, it will be a game-changer, reducing travel time to Tawang from a grueling 8-10 hours to a mere 4 hours, even during the harsh winter months when heavy snowfall blocks the Sela Pass, the current route.

Ravikant Tiwary, the project director, explained, “There are two tunnels here, at an altitude of 13,000 feet. They will make travel much quicker, especially in summer in Tawang. During winter, travelers often get stuck in Sela Pass for 3 to 4 hours. But with the new tunnels, people can travel through Baishaki, a snow-covered village in Tawang district, without needing tire chains. Motorbikes, cars, and even ambulances can pass through the tunnels without chains. This project involves the continuous efforts of the Border Roads Organisation and over 800 workers, working round the clock.”

The Sela Tunnel project comprises two tunnels – a 980-meter single-tube tunnel and a 1,555-meter bi-lane tunnel with an escape tube. Once finished, it will ensure year-round connectivity for both locals and the military in Tawang. With the project nearing its end, the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) is adding the final touches.

The BRO, known for its expertise in constructing infrastructure in remote and challenging areas, has deployed a dedicated team working 24/7 to meet the project deadlines. Despite the thin air, sub-zero temperatures, and frequent avalanches, the construction is progressing steadily. Advanced technologies and specialized equipment are being used to overcome the geographical hurdles.

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