The Border Road Organisation (BRO) in an effort to ensure year-round connectivity in mountainous areas of Ladakh and the north-east, will finish the construction of ten more tunnels in the next one to two years.
BRO chief Lt. General Rajeev Chaudhary stated that while the BRO had constructed only two tunnels in its first 60 years of existence since 1960, the last three years have seen the completion of four tunnels, with an addition of 10 more expected to be finished within the next 1-2 years.
Lieutenant General Chaudhary made these remarks during his visit to the BRO Himank Air Dispatch Unit site in Chandigarh on 25 September.
During his visit, he reviewed the progress of the world’s largest 3D printing complex, currently under construction, which also houses the world’s largest indigenously-made 3D printing machine.
This facility is set to provide transit support for personnel and equipment en-route to Ladakh.
The BRO chief added that construction of another eight tunnels is also under planning. Chaudhary emphasized that tunnels are the most effective way to provide swift and all-weather connectivity to remote border regions, especially since many mountain passes remain closed during winters due to heavy snowfall.
The BRO is actively working to reduce the duration of pass closures, he added.
Numerous projects, including road construction, bridge building, tunnel construction, and airfield upgrades in border areas, are currently underway.
Chaudhary noted that approximately 60 projects are near completion, and 90 new projects were recently launched by the Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.
Chaudhary stated that the BRO has introduced a Geographic Information System (GIS) enabled navigation system mounted on dozers to improve snow clearing operations on high-altitude roads.
This technology provides operators with precise road alignment information beneath snow cover, ensuring their equipment remains on course and preventing veering off-track. This system was deployed for the first time this year.
Chaudhary highlighted the increased budgetary support for the BRO, which has grown by 100% over the past two years.
The BRO is also incorporating new technologies, including 3D printing, in its projects and exploring innovative construction methods that utilize waste materials and industrial by-products.
Chaudhary stressed that the development of border infrastructure serves not only military purposes but is also crucial for the socio-economic progress of remote areas, bringing them closer to the mainstream.
One of the significant projects undertaken by the BRO is the construction of the world’s highest tunnel at Shinku La, which will connect the Lahaul-Spiti valley in Himachal Pradesh with Zanskar Valley in Ladakh.
This tunnel, situated at a height of 16,855 feet, will surpass the Mi La tunnel in Tibet, which stands at 15,580 feet.
Additionally, construction has begun on the world’s highest motorable road, the Likaru-Mig La-Fukche link in southeastern Ladakh. Expected to be completed in about three years, this road, reaching an elevation of 19,400 feet, will break the record held by the Umling La pass at 19,024 feet, also in eastern Ladakh.