The road, railway ministries and the Border Road Organisation (BRO) have joined hands to construct India's first underwater road-cum-rail tunnels across Brahmaputra in Assam. As per the plan, there will be three parallel tunnels – one for road, another for rail and the third one for emergency use. The tunnels will be of 9. 8 km each. This will be the first project where integrated tunnel construction will be undertaken. These tunnels will be inter-connected with cross passage for evacuation in case of any emergency.
The strategic multi-modal transportation system aims to integrate the rail and highway network through the Jamugurihat-Silghat axis towards North Assam, Tawang and the rest of Arunachal Pradesh. This can be used for both civilian and strategic purposes.
According to the estimate, the government would spend around £700 million for these tunnels.
The tunnel will take off from about 9 km upstream of the existing Kaliabomara (Tezpur) road bridge and will connect Jakhlabandha railway station on the south bank and at Dhaliabil railway station on the north bank of Brahmaputra.
At a recent meeting chaired by the CEO and chairman of the railway board, the BRO submitted that these rail-cum-road tunnels are required from the strategic point of view. It also suggested that the project may be funded by the defence ministry. The underwater tunnel project is expected to be an engineering marvel and will also strategically reduce travel time between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. Currently, there are 5 bridges across the Brahmaputra.