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Posted at: Nov 15, 2017, 1:14 AM; last updated: Nov 15, 2017, 1:14 AM (IST)

Army lists 9 top-priority tunnels in Ladakh, Himachal, Tawang

Part of the wider project to have 17 tunnels to provide all-weather connectivity.

Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 14

Faced with the rising military might of China, the Indian Army has identified nine “top-priority” tunnels, including those in eastern Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh and Doklam plateau in eastern Sikkim. This is to ensure all-weather connectivity in these areas.

These are part of the wider project to have 17 tunnels all across the Himalayas to provide all-weather connectivity. The Army headquarters had pinpointed its needs as per operational needs. The work on several of these projects has commenced. India and China share a 3,488-km-long undefined boundary in the Himalayas.

The ones to connect Ladakh will change the lives of people and add to the military preparedness. The first is an alternate route from Himachal Pradesh that will connect Padum in Zanskar, Ladakh, with an existing jeep-track in the hill state. 

The Army has suggested that the jeep track from Padum to the base of the 16,700-foot-high Shingo-La on the Zanskar side be metalled and a tunnel be made under the pass that will open in Lahaul-Spiti. The proposed move, if it materialises will provide an alternative shorter route to Kargil.

Ladakh has two other access roads — one from Srinagar and other from Manali via Rohtang. These remain closed for seven months — October to April — due to heavy snowfall in the higher passes. The Army priority list includes making tunnels under the Baralacha La, Tanglang La and Lachung La on the Manali-Leh route. The first two are in Ladakh and the last one in Himachal Pradesh. During winters, Army equipment and men can only be moved onboard the daily flights of IL-76 from Chandigarh.

In Arunachal Pradesh, the Border Roads Organisation has already started ground work for two tunnels through 4,170-metre-high Sela Pass, which would avoid the pass that is snow bound for more than six months.

The project constitutes construction of two tunnels of 475 metre and 1,790 metre each through Sela-Chabrela ridge connecting the Balipara-Chaudur-Tawang road on the Nurarang side.

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