India’s Border Roads Organisation (BRO) is reportedly exploring the feasibility for the construction of a Shinku La tunnel between Ladakh and Lahaul.

The plan for the new tunnel comes amid India’s escalating tensions with its neighbouring countries China and Pakistan.

According to officials, the Shinku La tunnel is expected to create a short road for the Indian armed forces to reach forward areas of Union Territory of Ladakh.

Citing experts, news agency IANS reported that the two-lane horseshoe-shaped tunnel will be 9.2km long. It would be the world’s longest motorable tunnel built 3,000m above sea level.

Once completed, it would be one of the key infrastructures in the Defence Ministry’s attempt to make the 475km Manali-Keylong-Leh highway.

Recently, BRO completed Rohtang Tunnel to connect Manali with Leh in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, which is set to be opened on 3 October 2020.

Rohtang Tunnel is reported to be one of the longest highway tunnels built above 10,000ft in the world.

Rohtang Tunnel has been named after former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who wanted to create an alternative road that would connect Manali and Leh and that could withstand all weather conditions.

It is strategically important in view of the growing tension in the Ladakh region, which borders China.

It has been built with a Rs35bn ($475m) investment by the BRO using advanced engineering technologies and was completed during the pandemic.

Once opened to public, it is expected to reduce travel distance between Manali and Leh by 46km.

BRO official was quoted by IANS as saying: “The Rohtang tunnel alone is not enough to provide the Manali-Keylong-Leh axis an all-weather link as the tunnel is going to help only civilians of Keylong.

“Other three high-altitude mountain passes that lie between Keylong and Leh still remain snowbound for at least six months in a year that make the highway totally standstill.”

Earlier this month, Border Road Organisation almost completed road works on Padam-Access to connect Leh-Ladakh with the rest of the country.

The road is expected to provide strategic connectivity to the Indian armed forces.

Only a 30km road stretch is left to be completed on the 400km road.