On May 20, 2022, the Border Road Organisation (BRO) performed the final “break through blast” to signal the successful completion of excavation work on the Nechiphu Tunnel in Arunachal Pradesh. Lt Gen Rajeev Chaudhry, Director General of BRO, led it remotely from New Delhi. On October 12, 2020, Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh laid the project’s foundation stone.
The last blast of the 500-meter Nechiphu Tunnel was initiated through video conference by DG Border Lieutenant General Rajeev Chaudhry. The excavation of the Nechiphu Tunnel in Arunachal Pradesh’s West Kameng district was a great success for the Border Roads Organisation’s project Vartak.
The last blast of the 500-meter Nechiphu Tunnel was initiated through video conference by DG Border Lieutenant General Rajeev Chaudhry. In the previous 18 months, Project Vartak has completed the excavation of the Sela and Nechiphu tunnels on the Balipara-Chariduar-Roaf route, which connects Balipara to Tawang. This D-shaped tunnel will have two-way traffic and will have modern lighting and safety features.
The tunnel was designed to avoid the harsh foggy conditions that prevail around Nechiphu Pass, which have been a burden to general traffic and military convoys for many decades, with many accidents occurring as a result of dense fog. Once operational, the Nechiphu Tunnel will not only allow secure all-weather access, but it will also reduce travel time by 30 minutes and the road distance by 7 kilometres over the highly fogged region.
This is one of many tunnels planned by the Border Roads Organization along border areas to improve existing road geometrics, avoid foggy areas, avoid slide-prone areas, and reduce black spots on the roads in order to provide greater safety and all-weather connectivity to military and civil traffic movement.
“This is one of many tunnels envisioned 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 provide greater safety and all-weather connectivity to military and civil traffic movement,” Lt Col Walia said.
The D-shaped tunnel, excavated as part of ‘Project Vartak,’ will handle two-way traffic. According to Brig Harish Kumar, chief engineer of Project Vartak, which is building the tunnel, it will be outfitted with modern lighting and safety features. “Once operational, the Nechiphu tunnel will not only enable secure all-weather transit, but it will also reduce travel time by 30 minutes and the road route by 7 kilometres of the heavily foggy region.” This environmentally friendly construction and shorter distance will also assist minimise the carbon footprint of the area’s highways,” he stated. The tunnel was built by cutting through fragile Himalayan mountains with heavily fragmented rock and low overburden using strict 3D monitoring and proactive application of the appropriate tunnel support system.
The novel Austrian tunnelling approach was used to complete the project quickly. According to a defence official, BRO personnel set a tunnel record by excavating 100 m in under 40 days. The tunnel will be outfitted with a cutting-edge electro-mechanical system that includes fire fighting equipment, an auto lighting system, and SCADA-controlled monitoring systems. It will also include raised footpaths on both sides for better pedestrian circulation, as well as ducts for power cables, OFC cables, and utility lines to help reinforce the civic amenities infrastructure.
The Sela tunnel, which is also being excavated under the same project and was announced by the government in 2018, will be the world’s longest twin-lane tunnel, cutting travel time to Tawang by at least one hour and providing all-weather access. In 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi lay the groundwork for the project. Winter access to Tawang via the 14,000-foot Sela pass presents a logistical problem for the army, with movement of soldiers, weapons, and supplies hampered for at least three to four months.
Parallel to the Nechiphu Tunnel project, BRO’s Project Vartak finished excavation work on another vital tunnel, the Twin Tube (1,555 metre and 980 metre) “Sela Tunnel Project” on the same road, on January 22, 2022. Thus, today’s blast commemorates the completion of more than 4,500 metres of excavation by BRO Karmyogis in less than two years.
Once operational, the Nechiphu Tunnel, in conjunction with the Sela Tunnel, will provide secure, all-weather strategic connectivity on the BCT Road while decreasing carbon footprint in this environmentally sensitive area. The tunnel is now being built by cutting through unstable and heavily fragmented rock strata. The associated issues are addressed on a daily basis by strict 3D monitoring and proactive application of necessary tunnel support systems in accordance with the New Austrian Tunneling Method (NATM).
Over the previous two years, the BRO has constantly achieved success in the execution of infrastructural marvels in the most difficult locations of the country. It has recently taken up tunnelling in a significant way, with the successful completion of High Altitude and Mountainous tunnels, in addition to the Atal Tunnel, Rohtang in Himachal Pradesh, and the Chamba Tunnel in Uttarakhand. The organisation has also begun construction of a series of miniature tunnels, which it will build with its own labour resources.