Budget 2018: FM Jaitley announces new tunnel in Arunachal to counter China

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today announced the government's plan to build a tunnel through the Sela Pass located at an elevation of 13,700 ft which will ensure faster movement of troops in Tawang, a strategically-located town in Arunachal Pradesh bordering China.

The defence ministry said the approval for the construction of Sela pass in Arunachal Pradesh has given further impetus to the defence preparedness.

In his budget address, Jaitley said the government was developing connectivity infrastructure in border areas to secure India's defence.

The proposal to build the Sela pass comes amid concerns in the defence establishment over China's growing assertiveness along the nearly 4,000 km-long Sino-India border.

"Rohtang tunnel has been completed to provide all weather connectivity to the Ladakh region. Contract for construction of Zozila Pass tunnel of more than 14 kilometres is progressing well. I now propose to take up construction of tunnel under Sela Pass," Jaitley said.

The Sela pass is located between the Tawang and West Kameng districts of Arunachal Pradesh and considered crucial from strategic perspective.

Troops of India and China were locked in a 73-day-long standoff in Doklam last year after the Indian side stopped construction of a road in the disputed area by the Chinese Army. Bhutan and China have a dispute over Doklam. The face- off had ended on August 28.

The Indian Army has been pressing for speedy development of infrastructure along the border with China.

Army Chief Gen. Bipin Rawat last month had said time has come for India to shift focus from its border with Pakistan to that with China.

He had also said that the Army was focusing on improving border infrastructure to ensure speedy movement of ammunition and troops.

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