By Yungdung Tsomo
DHARAMSALA, 5 July: India and China, the two Asian giants are ramping up their infrastructure development around Pangong Tso(lake), which stretches across Ladakh in India and western Tibet.
The hectic activity in the area from both sides since the violent clash between the Armies of India and China in the Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh in 2020 is reported to be permanently altering the status quo on the ground in eastern Ladakh, even as the two sides await the 19th round of Corps Commander level talks to find a resolution to their dispute in the region, the Hindu reported.
According to the report, China is “rushing to complete a bridge across the Pangong Tso, connecting the north and south banks” while “India is also building a black-topped road on its side on the north bank.”
“Construction of black-topped road towards Finger 4 on our side is on and is expected to be completed by 2025. There is a major impetus on infrastructure, road networks, advanced landing grounds, and so on,” the report added quoting an unnamed official.
The report further cited another source as saying that on the Chinese side, “work is now underway on the main bridge, while the secondary bridge has been completed.
Meanwhile, the report added that there has been a noticeable increase in construction activities on the north bank as evidenced by the sightings of large-scale construction activity, along with construction materials.
The report cited another official and added that “work on road connectivity along the south bank towards Shandong village is also under progress,”
A Chinese air defence site is also said to be located east of the Khurnak Fort.
The report stated that India has been rapidly increasing its budgetary allocation for the Border Road Organisation(BRO) over the last few years.
BRO’s capital budget for 2023 – 2024 was increased to ₹5,000 crore, 43% higher than the ₹3,500 crore allocated in 2022-23, mostly to be spent on he India-China Border Roads (ICBR) plan.
China reportedly controls two-thirds of the 134-km-long Pangong Tso, which extends from Tibet to Ladakh. In August 2017 a face-off took place between two patrolling parties along the disputed ‘Finger-5 to Finger-8’ area on the north bank of Pangong Tso in which several hundred soldiers were seen using stones and rods to hit out at each other when soldiers from India and China were already engaged in an explosive confrontation in Bhutan’s Doklam near the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction.