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Chushul-Demchok road to rein in PLA

Tuesday, 21 March 2017 | Archana Jyoti | New Delhi

To ensure better movement of logistics for Army on the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the Union Environment Ministry’s Standing Committee of the National Board of Wildlife (NBWL) has given the go-ahead for the construction of strategically important 150-km long Chushul-Demchok road in Ladakh.

The area has seen repeated incursion by China since 2013.

Demchok village is the last inhabited area along the Zero Line on the border with China. In the absence of the proper road connection, a battalion of the security forces has been posted too far from the LAC, leaving them vulnerable to the attack from the neighbouring country.

But with the NBWL nod, the road from Chushul-Dungti-Fukche-Demchok will soon see the light of the day. The Border Road Organisation (BRO) will construct the road, using 161.76 hectares in Changthang Cold Desert Wildlife Sanctuary in the State.

The construction proposal had been pending for quite long. In fact, way back in October 2009, the work on the road to connect two hamlets at the LAC in Demchok was stopped following objection from the China’s People’s Liberation Army(PLA).

Sources in the NBWL said the Chinese Army had then sought a flag meeting with the Indian Army and objected to the road construction as it considers the area disputed.

However, repeated incursion from China since 2013, has prompted the State as well as the Central Government to re-look the proposal to construct road as a necessity for movement of the logistics for Army posted at the rough terrain and ensure better road connectivity to border posts with China.

In fact, in the wake of Chinese incursions in 2013 and objections by the PLA over border infrastructure in Ladakh, a three-member team of National Security Advisory Board, headed by then chairman and former foreign secretary Shyam Saran, had visited Ladakh to assess the situation. 

In March last year, the Jammu & Kashmir Government had given approval for the construction of the road.

This came after the e BRO asserted that the road was strategically important for the nation’s security in view of China’s repeated incursions in the area. 

The BRO also stated that the road alignment did not have any trees and no significant damage to the environment was likely to be caused due to the construction of the road.

The proposal was recommended to the NBWL which in January this year paved the way for the construction of the road.

Giving it go ahead, the NBWL members after discussion agreed that the road is strategically important for movement of logistics for Army. The NBWL has also decided to recommend the proposal along with the conditions and mitigation measures in the Changthang Cold Desert Wildlife Sanctuary prescribed by State Chief Wildlife Warden and State Board of Wildlife.

Part of the Hindu Kush Himalaya,Changthang Cold Desert Wildlife Sanctuary is the home of two of the world-famous high altitude water lakes, Tsomoriri and Pangong Tso.

In addition there are around 11 lakes and 10 marshes with the majestic River Indus flowing through the sanctuary, dividing it into two parts.

Snow leopard is the major attraction of the WLS. Rare and threatened animals such as Tibetan wolf, Tibetan argali, Wild yak, Tibetan gazelle, and the Tibetan antelopes are also habitants of  this vast   landscape.

 
 
 

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