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India, China ramp up infra on north bank of Pangong Tso lake

  • Published
    3rd Jul, 2023
Context

Three years after the violent clash in Galwan, both India and China are busy with construction in the area. China is building a bridge across Pangong Tso while India is constructing a road on the north bank.

Chinese Construction Update:

  • Main bridge construction underway, secondary bridge completed.
  • Recent large-scale construction activity observed on the north bank.
  • Road connectivity work along the south bank towards Shandong village in progress.
  • Chinese air defence site located east of the Khurnak fort.
  • Construction of a 22 km-long tunnel along the G-0177 expressway at Yuli, connecting to the G-216 highway in Tibet.
  • Ongoing Deployments and Friction Points: Over one lakh troops remain deployed on both sides of the lake since 2020. Corps Commander-level talks have reached a stalemate due to remaining friction points at Depsang and Demchok.
  • Demchok Situation: In Demchok, China has set up tents on the Indian side of Charding nala. Varying claims exist in the Charding La area, contributing to the ongoing dispute.

Pangong Lake and Border Disputes:

  • India holds one-third of the 135 km-long Pangong Lake, with the disputed area known as the "fingers".
  • Indian claims extend till Finger 8, the perceived Line of Actual Control (LAC), while historically holding territory till Finger 4.
  • Initial clashes in May 2020 occurred on the north bank, which has more significant differences in LAC perceptions compared to the south bank.
  • Indian Army has a permanent position near Finger 3, while the Chinese have a base east of Finger 8.

Pangong Lake

  • Pangong Lake, situated at a height of almost 4,350m, is the world’s highest saltwater lake.
  • Its water, which seems to be dyed in blue, stand in stark contrast to the arid mountains surrounding it.
  • Extending to almost 160km, one-third of the Pangong Lake lies in India and the other two-thirds in China.

How India is focusing on strategic road network development?

  • Increased budgetary allocation: Budget allocation for Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has significantly increased in recent years. In 2023-24, BRO's capital budget was ?5,000 crore, a 43% increase from the previous year's ?3,500 crore.
  • ICBR Plan: Focus on the India-China Border Roads (ICBR) plan, with substantial investments made.
  • Connectivity projects: BRO is nearing completion of key infrastructure projects in the eastern sector. Notable projects include the Sela, Nechipu, and Sela-Chhabrela tunnels, enhancing all-weather connectivity along the LAC.
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