The tunnel will be a new addition to the historical monuments of Assam’s Sivasagar district, if found to be true Credit: Rishu Kalantri

 Border Roads Organisation (BRO) on Friday completed the excavation of Nechiphu tunnel in West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh.

The last blast was initiated by BRO Director General Lt Gen Rajeev Chaudhury virtually, Tezpur-based Defence spokesman Lt Col A S Walia informed.

The 500 m Nechiphu tunnel between Km 82 to 88 along the Balipara-Charduar-Tawang Road, which connects Balipara in Assam to Tawang in Arunachal Prdesh bordering China, is located at an altitude of 5700 ft.

This is one of the many tunnels conceived by BRO along border areas to improve existing road geometrics, avoid foggy areas, circumvent slide prone areas and reduce black spots on the roads to offer greater safety and all weather connectivity to the military and civil traffic movement, Lt Col Walia.

The D-shaped tunnel has been excavated under ‘Project Vartak’ and will accommodate two-way traffic. It will be equipped with modern lighting and safety facilities, said Brig Harish Kumar, chief engineer of Project Vartak, under which the tunnel is being made.

Once in service, Nechiphu tunnel will not only provide safe all weather passage but will also cut short the travel time by 30 min and reduce the road distance by 7 km of the heavily foggy stretch. This environment friendly construction and reduction in distance will also help reduce the carbon foot print of the roads in the area, he said.

The tunnel has been constructed by cutting through fragile Himalayan mountains with highly fractured rock under low overburden through strict 3D monitoring and through proactive application of desired tunnel support system.

The new Austrian tunneling method has been used to achieve construction at a fast pace. BRO personnel created a record on the tunnel by excavating 100 m in just 40 days, defence spokesman said.

The tunnel will be provided with a state-of-the-art electro-mechanical system including fire fighting devices, auto illumination system and SCADA controlled monitoring systems.

It will also accommodate raised footpaths on both sides for safer pedestrian movement which will have ducts to pass power cables, OFC cables and utility lines to strengthen the civic amenities infrastructure.

The Sela tunnel, which too is being excavated under the same project and announced by the government in 2018, will be the longest twin-lane tunnel in the world as it will cut down travel time to Tawang by at least one hour as well as provide all-weather connectivity.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation of the project in 2019.

Winter connectivity to Tawang over the 14,000-foot Sela pass pose a logistics challenge for the army with the movement of men, weapons and stores severely affected for at least three to four months.

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