Guwahati: In a strategic move, Railway Ministry and Road Transport Ministry along with the Border Road Organisation (BRO) are planning to construct the country's first-ever underwater road-cum-rail tunnels across the Brahmaputra river in Assam at an estimated cost of Rs 7,000 crore.
A total of three parallel tunnels will be constructed under this project - one for the road, another for rail and the third one for emergency use. The length of all the parallel tunnels will be the same and their stretch will be 9.8 kilometres long.
This will happen to be the first project where integrated tunnel construction will be undertaken and this landmark project will be inter-connected with cross passage for evacuation in case of any emergency.
The strategic multi-modal transportation system intends to integrate the rail and highway network via the Jamurihat-Silghat axis towards North Assam, Tawang and the rest of Arunachal Pradesh. This can be used for civilian as well as strategic purposes.
As per the estimate, the government's total expenditure for these tunnels would amount to around Rs 7,000 crore. Earlier, National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL), a company under the Road Transport Ministry, had put forward a proposal for the construction of twin tunnels specifically for vehicles and had estimated an expenditure of Rs 12,800 crore.
Meanwhile, the tunnel will start about 9 km upstream of the existing Kaliabhomora (Tezpur) road bridge and it will connect Jakhlabandha railway station on the south bank and Dhaliabil railway station on the northern bank of Brahmaputra.
The underwater tunnel project will be an engineering wonder which will prove to be strategically beneficial for the country by reducing travel time between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
The proposed tunnels will be constructed using tunnel boring machines and may take around two to two-and-a-half years to complete after the work starts.