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Fortifying Arunachal Border: Govt’s Mega Infra Push in the Frontier State Bordering China; Details of Some Key Projects

First Published: 3rd January, 2023 7:46 IST

From over 2,000 km Arunachal Frontier Highway to the world’s longest bi-lane Sela tunnel being built at a height of 13,700 feet, Arunachal’s infra is getting a big boost

After being weary for decades of improving and developing infrastructure in the frontier state of Arunachal, the BJP government at the Centre, in a major turnaround in policies of earlier governments, has significantly ramped up the speed of building infrastructure in the state bordering China.

China has been a constant threat to India along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). The recent December 9 clash between the Indian Army and China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in the Tawang sector of Arunachal Pradesh has brought the spotlight back on the need to develop infrastructure in Arunachal Pradesh which has been grossly neglected for decades.

The Centre has focused on fast-tracking road as well as air connectivity projetcs, and building adequate infrastructure in the strategically located state in the extreme northeast corner of the country.
The central government has sanctioned 2,319 km long roads to be built under the “Arunachal Pradesh package of roads”. Of this, contracts for constructing 1,191 km long roads have been awarded — 1,150 km of this has already been completed, reports said.

As of February, 2022, projects worth Rs 14,032 crore are in progress in the state. The much-awaited, much talked-about Sela Tunnel project, said to be the world’s longest bi-lane tunnel at a height of 13,700 feet is nearing completion.

Here are few of the important infrastructure projects that would fortify the borders while giving a boost to the infrastructure of the state.

Siyom Bridge: The 100-metre-long steel arch Siyom Bridge over River Siyom is of great significance not just for the people of the region but also for the defence forces as it would facilitate the movement of heavy artillery and movement of defence forces along the India-China border. The Bridge built by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) is on the Along-Yingkiong Road.

The Siyom Bridge would make the transportation of heavy long-range weapons like the howitzer and the Bofors gun easy. “Currently, these heavy guns have to be airlifted. This is not just extremely cumbersome but also exposes the weaponry to the enemy. The Bridge would come as a boon for the defence forces and make the movement of forces and heavy artillery more convenient,” sources said.

Constructed by Project Brahmank, part of BRO, the bridge would also improve road communication to the Upper Siang district and beyond, through Along.

The BRO has constructed 64 roads of 3,097 km in Arunachal Pradesh in the last five years, the government informed the Parliament on December 16.

Sela Tunnel: This project is one of the very strategically important projects not just for Arunachal Pradesh but for India as a whole. Initiated in 2018, the project is expected to be ready by April this year. Being built at a height of 13,700 feet, this strategic project has main and escape tunnels of 1,555 metres long each, besides a shorter tunnel of 980 m and about 1.2 km of road. The tunnel will ensure that the Chinese are not able to monitor traffic movement in the area. The tunnel, said to be the longest bi-lane tunnel in the world, is expected to be ready by July this year.

Along with the Nechiphu tunnel on the 317-km long Balipara-Charduar-Tawang (BCT) road that leads to West Kameng and Tawang districts of Arunachal Pradesh the project will ensure that both defence and private vehicles will have all-weather connectivity.

Arunachal Frontier Highway: One of the country’s biggest and toughest projects, the over 2,000-km long road project would begin from Mago in Arunachal Pradesh, adjacent to Bhutan, and pass through Tawang, Upper Subansiri, Tuting, Mechuka, Upper Siang, Debang Valley, Desali, Chaglagam, Kibithu, Dong, before ending at Vijayanagar near the Myanmar border. The project was envisaged by the Army in 2012.

With this project, Arunachal Pradesh will get three national highways — the Frontier Highway, the Trans-Arunachal Highway, and the East-West Industrial Corridor Highway.

Six vertical and diagonal inter-highway corridors totalling 2,178 km will be built to provide missing interconnectivity between the three highways as well as to provide faster access to border areas.
The corridors include the 402 km-long Thelamara-Tawang-Nelia Highway, the 391 km-long Itakhola-Pakke-Kessang-Seppa-Parsi Parlo Highway, the 285 km-long Gogamukh-Taliha-Tato Highway, the 398 km-long Akajan-Jorging-Pango Highway, the 298 km-long Pasighat-Bishing Highway, and the 404 km-long Kanubari-Longding Highway.

The ambitious Arunachal Frontier Highway is expected to be ready this April. The project is coming up at a cost of over Rs 44,000 crore.

The Arunachal Frontier Highway will be a huge capability jump for the military since it will allow seamless and faster movement of both men and equipment to the border as and when needed for induction and de-induction.

Twin Tunnel under Brahmaputra: The other big project that would be of great importance for the military and defence forces is the 15.6-km twin tunnel under the mighty Brahmaputra river that will cut travel time between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.

Hollongi Airport: Year 2022 was a landmark year for Arunachal Pradesh as the state got its first greenfield airport, the Donyi Polo airport developed by the Airports Authority of India at an estimated cost of Rs 645 crore. The airport with eight check-in counters, has a capacity to accommodate around 200 passengers during peak hours. Spread over 4,100 sq m area, Donyi Polo airport is equipped with all modern facilities for passengers. The airport has a 2,300-meter-long runway suitable for landing and take-off of Boeing 747.

Also Read : Historic moment for Arunachal: Defence Min Rajnath Singh inaugurates strategic Siyom Bridge

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