Army convoy moving towards eastern Ladakh from Leh on 30 June 2020 (representational image) | ANI
Army convoy moving towards eastern Ladakh from Leh on 30 June 2020 (representational image) | ANI
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New Delhi: The Army is grappling with creating adequate infrastructure, at short notice, for the 30,000 additional troops it has deployed at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh following the stand-off with Chinese forces.

With the stand-off still at a stalemate, despite multiple rounds of military talks at different levels, the soldiers will have to spend the winters on the icy heights of Eastern Ladakh.
Top defence sources, however, told ThePrint that sustaining the additional troops in the extreme winter continues to be a major cause of concern due to a military infrastructure deficit in the region.

This includes housing areas for the troops at the forward and relative depth areas; storage space, road space availability and spaces for housing specialised equipment.

A source said the situation in Ladakh is more challenging than even in Siachen — the highest battlefield in the world known for its inhospitable terrain — because the troops deployed in the glacier are fewer in number and the infrastructure for them has been created over a period of 30 years.

Both India and China have mobilised a large number of troops and equipment along the LAC in Ladakh in the last three months.


Also read: UAVs, high speed boats, All Terrain Vehicles — what Army’s Ladakh corps wants amid LAC row


The infrastructure shortage

The shortage of infrastructure stems from the fact that such large-scale movement of troops in Ladakh was unheard of in the past, the sources said.

“Moreover, one has to account for the fact that the rate of deterioration of infrastructure is faster there (in Eastern Ladakh) because of the extreme climatic conditions. Also, the deployment space is limited,” a defence source, privy to the challenges, told ThePrint.

A second source told ThePrint that given the heavy density of troops deployed there, there is a need to create living quarters, both closer to the LAC and also in the relative depths, where the acclimatised troops would be concentrated and kept ready for any subsequent deployment.

“The challenge also lies in deciding on the quantity of infrastructure that should be created now, which later may not be required if there is an actual de-escalation at the LAC,” the source said.

According to sources, the Army is looking at, as a temporary measure, converting some of the existing storage facilities into living quarters.

The sources also said that discussions are underway regarding how much of the specialised equipment can be kept under canvas during the winters, given their harsh nature and the fact that the existing buildings can barely cater to the routine stocking levels.

As reported by ThePrint, the Army is busy planning the logistics and winter stocking for the additional soldiers and procuring special winter clothing, arctic tents, aside from stocking of rations and kerosene oil, so that they can deal with the tough conditions expected during the six-month cold season.

“Construction of additional huts or bunkers along or closer to the LAC to cater for subsequent eventualities is also being deliberated on,” the first source quoted above said. “While there is no firing at the LAC, the need for bunkers cannot be ruled out in case of future eventualities.”

Another challenge is that the lay of the land, hard and rocky surface and narrow tracks hinder the movement of material and specialised equipment required for construction.

“The peculiarities of terrain entail select and limited deployment areas. While they are adequate for occupation of defences by small subunits, the challenge of creating administrative and training areas for a large unit of acclimatised troops is immense,” the source added.


Also read: Defence Ministry clears purchase of indigenous basic trainer aircraft, upgrade of Israeli UAVs


‘Limited working season biggest challenge’

A further challenge is ensuring water for the troops.

While there are a large number of rivers in the region, Army officers said ferrying the water from the source to the heights and the camping areas and its subsequent storage requires detailed planning and implementation.

“The limited resources exist and narrow roads confine the movement in one direction, thereby increasing the turnaround time,” the first source said.

The biggest challenge continues to be the limited working season ending in October, after which, no fresh work can start.

The second source said we need to realise that the number of troops has increased more than threefold and so, pressure on the existing infrastructure is intense.

“The entire population of Leh district is approximately 1.5 lakh people,” the source said. “An additional 30,000 troops is a 20 per cent increase. The challenge needs to be seen in the right perspective.”


Also read: 7 big-ticket ‘Make in India’ defence projects that have failed to get off the ground


 

 

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11 Comments Share Your Views

11 COMMENTS

  1. Indian army has its job cut out for it. They need to be on full alert this winter. My request to honorable PM to please provide full support. Are our intelligence agencies, (IB, RAW, Army intelligence) aware that Chinese have intruded 20 kms into Indian territory at chitkul in kinnaur dist of himachal ?

    • You need to know some basic facts. The British invaded central Asia in 1837 and 1870, creating Afghanistan, because they were afraid Zarist Russia might take “their” India from them. Because of the same fear they invaded China in 1906 and occupied West Tibet (Ladakh) and South Tibet (Arunachal Pardesh). India should return these territories to China and Kashmir to Kashmiries, otherwise it would get beaten up badly. Imperialism is a crime against humanity.

      • You talk nonsense.Tibet was never a part of China.It is on the other side of great wall of China .It itself is a geographical admission by the Chinese that Tibet is not a part of their country.U are a indoctrinated
        radical thinking Muslim anti-national who will say that we should surrender our Kashmir to Pakistan.Infact you I am sure will have a very poor knowledge of Islam & what the Prophet stood for .He was always for love & peace for humanity , that’s integration.Not division.I am a Kashmiri and was a third generation who was a part of Kargil operative .We will fight till we have secured lost domains of India (India which has always stood for love & peace necessary for development of humanity)including POK & are committed to fight for Baluchistan as well.

  2. Yes, everything is a challenge , like weather, cold, altitude etc. But the Chinese face the same issues on their side. Now that there is no surprise factor, we have to match them in every way.

  3. Great opportunity for “atmnirbhar” – Indian manufacturers build excellent container living & office rooms complete with insulation, toilets, Elec. points, heating etc. Why not order immly. & lift to forward areas? Surely, bureaucrats would be knowing about it.

  4. Infrastructure development project should be taken up on war footing. It is very unfortunate that development in phased manner in regular phase is not taken up. We only wake up when crises come. Roads, communication and housing project should be taken up in regular way. China is number one enemy and borders with China need to be secured.

  5. Ok so india is stuck in same way as Pakistan was in siachin in 1984 but situation is even worse for India bcz of even more aggressive weather and treacherous terrain of ladakh.good luck to every Indian who were thinking about seizing whole of north of Pakistan and aksai chin with building DBO road and few bridges and roads in area .now face the consequences of the dirty planning and continue abusing Pakistani citizens on internet

  6. We should arrange for insulated Morgan truck wagons of Aluminium, fibre glass than plywood, engine to be used for lighting & cooking, so 6 to 8 jawans per truck can stay

  7. Same reason was there in Kashmir valley.. then Governor Jagmohan kicked out kashmiri pandits to accomodate army in big villas of Kashmiri pandits…
    But propaganda wing of Sangh pariwar twisted it as Kashmiri Muslims has kicked out Kashmiri pandits out of Kashmir…

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