Indian Army Building New Tunnels and Caves In Northern Border
The Indian Army, in order to stock up on ammunition in a sensitive environment, has set about constructing caves and semi-underground tunnels at mountain ranges near the northern border. The project, which is on a pilot basis currently, envisions caves at four locations, to be built at a total cost of around Rs 15 crore. There are a total of four proposed tunnels, including one in Tawang sector and one in Jammu and Kashmir.
The Army has also roped in the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation Ltd (NHPC), a public sector undertaking, to construct the caves or tunnels. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) will soon be signed with the NHPC in this regard.
The Army is also increasing its ammunition stockpile. Last year, it had finalised a Rs 15,000 crore long-term plan to get domestic private sector players to manufacture seven different types of ammo. It also signed 19 contracts worth Rs 11,740 crore to get Smerch rockets, Konkurs anti-tank guided missiles, 125-mm armour-piercing fin-stabilised discarding sabot ammunition for its T-90S and T-72 tanks, and other ammunition.
Once the stocks arrive, the Army would need specialised areas to store them. To this end, sources said, the tunnels and caves would be constructed. NHPC was chosen for the task because it has the “best technical expertise, capability and capacity” to construct these without any glitches. “Further, it is also cost-effective,” the source said, adding that each such cave or tunnel would have a capacity between 150 to 250 metric tonnes.
Initially, the plan was to construct a cave at a high altitude area for stocking ammunition, but the project ran into technical issues, like seepage and dampness which may have damaged the goods. To resolve this issue, NHPC approached the Army and displayed its capabilities.