India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday opened a Himalayan tunnel. This will drastically reduce the time needed to rush troops to the country’s remote Chinese border as tensions grow between the Asian neighbours.
The tunnel traverses India’s northern Himachal Pradesh state and lies on one of two main routes for troops headed to border areas in Ladakh.
The two nuclear-armed countries have since rushed tens of thousands of additional troops and weapons to the area, and have been locked in a tense stand-off for months.
The $400-million, nine-kilometer tunnel will cut the journey by about 50 kilometers and four hours, enabling travellers to bypass a tricky route across a landslide-prone Himalayan pass. A decade in the making, freezing temperatures and the challenging terrain meant construction work could only be carried out for about six months each year. — AFP