Sela Tunnel, located in West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh, will play a crucial role in bolstering national security and ensuring socio-economic development of the region, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said here on Thursday presiding over breakthrough blast of main tube of the tunnel.

Perched at an altitude of 13,800 ft, Sela pass on the 317 km long Balipara-Charduar-Tawang (BCT) road connects West Kameng, East Kameng and Tawang districts of Arunachal Pradesh to the rest of the country. It reduces travel time and provides all weather connectivity to Tawang.

Singh commended Border Road Organisation for making significant contribution to the progress of the Nation by constructing of roads, bridges, tunnels and airfields at record altitudes under extreme weather conditions and making remote areas visible on connectivity maps.

He said the efforts of BRO to strengthen border infrastructure have enhanced the operational readiness of the Armed Forces, encouraged tourism in far-flung areas and generated employment for local population. This state-of-the-art tunnel will prove to be a lifeline for not just Tawang but the entire state, he added.

Singh made special mention of the construction of Atal Tunnel, Rohtang, which is world's longest highway tunnel at 10,000 feet and Umlingla Pass, the highest motorable pass in the world at 19,300 feet in Eastern Ladakh. He said, these recent achievements of BRO have become a subject of study for the whole world.

Apart from presiding over breakthrough blast of main tube of Sela Tunnel via video conferencing, Singh flagged-off a motorcycle expedition at an event organised by Border Roads Organisation (BRO) in New Delhi.

Referring to motorcycle expedition', Singh described the expedition as a fitting tribute to the soldiers who sacrificed their lives in the service of the nation. The expedition is part of 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav' which is being celebrated across the country to commemorate 75 years of Independence.

Seventy five riders from BRO, including Indian Army and General Reserve Engineer Force personnel, will cover approximately 20,000 km over the next 75 days.

The personnel will interact with local people, school children, gallantry award winners, ex-Servicemen and Veer Naris; conduct medical camps and raise awareness on Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and road safety.

Singh hoped that the expedition will instill the message of national integration and nation building among people especially the youth. He stressed that besides adventure, such activities have an important aspect of defence and security.

"We can gather additional information about border security and its challenges through such campaigns. Our Army has given a lot of encouragement to such activities and it has helped them to gather information related to security," he said.

He called for reaching out to general public for promotion of such activities, emphasising that these can play a big role in encouraging tourism, generating employment and strengthening local economy.