Guwahati: Before an underwater tunnel in the Brahmaputra to connect Misa in Nagaon district in the south bank with Tezpur in Sonitpur district in the north bank got in-principle approval from the central government, it was just an idea for Dr Shyam Sunder Porwal.

The then Additional Director General of Eastern Zone of Border Roads organization said he thought an underwater tunnel would have strategic importance as it will provide round-the-year connectivity between Assam and Arunchal Pradesh.

So in 2014, he conducted two surveys before the proposal was submitted to the government for approval. Six years later in 2020, the Centre gave its nod for the construction of the tunnel that will witness use of state-of-the-art technology.

There are three bridges over the Brahmaputra- Kalaiabhomora, Dibrugarh-Bogibeel and Dola-Sadiya – and they could be vulnerable in case of an attack from the neighbouring country.  

“I felt these surface bridges are always at a very high risk. Initially, people asked is it even possible? I said yes. The broader concept was conceived and a preliminary assessment was made. Other details are classified,” he said.

Following that, in 2016, the BRO conducted a survey to see the feasibility of an underwater tunnel. A team conducted a survey for construction of the tunnel from Gohpur to Numaligarh also. Dr Porwal in his report had stated that the underwater tunnel was possible in both the places.

The ministry of environment has also accepted it, he said.

The construction of the underwater tunnel is expected to start in December this year in three phases. With a total length of be 14.85 km, the tunnel will have four lanes that would mean even heavy military vehicles and others services can be transported easily through it.

The report, prepared by Dr Porwal, who retired in 2017 after spending 26 out of his 36 years of service in the northeast, also said that the tunnel will be longer than the underwater tunnel being built by China below Taihu Lake in Jiangsu province.

Special attention will be taken to see that no water leakage happens in the tunnel with provisions for a ventilation system for the flow of fresh air in the tunnel. The tunnel will also have emergency exits, drainage system and also equipped with a crash barrier system.

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