New Delhi: China is carrying out massive construction activities, including building new bridges and roads besides housing, to boost its military capability in eastern Ladakh not just in the new friction points of southern banks but also in areas like Galwan Valley and Hot Springs where both countries had carried out significant disengagement, ThePrint has learnt.
The ramping up of military facilities comes amid India-China talks, where the latter has for the first time agreed to discuss all contentious areas, rather than just seek a point blank Indian pullback from the strategic heights of the southern banks of Pangong Tso.
These new construction activities have led certain sections in the defence and security establishment to believe that while there could be some progress in the disengagement talks due to the winter, the Chinese “plan to come back later with more speed and numbers”.
Sources said the Chinese have built several housing structures at Samar Lungpa, 30km east of Karakoram Pass and at Mount Sajum, south of Rechin La on the southern banks. Mountain Sajun is the International Boundary and does not fall on the Line of Actual Control.
“A road was constructed by the Chinese just 2.5 KMs short of Mount Sajun, the highest peak in the area, in 2018. The additional housing construction done in this area shows that the Chinese are deploying additional troops,” a source said. “This clearly means that the Chinese have some plans for the future in mind”.
Chinese construction in Galwan Valley
China is also installing surveillance equipment along the entire LAC in Ladakh. At Qizil Jilga, 70 km east of Daulet Beg Oldi (DBO), which is a major outpost of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), at least six new and large housing facilities have come up. Sources said these structures are 130 metres long.
A second source said the Chinese have also undertaken construction activities in Galwan Valley, where disengagement had taken place following the deadly clash on June 15.
At 1,400 metres from the Y junction in the Galwan Valley where the Chinese had intruded, the PLA has carried out a series of construction activities.
“The construction has happened on the Chinese side at the site known as Camp 1 by us. The PLA has built an iron bridge over the Galwan river at this point. This means the Chinese will be able to move easily even if the water level increases,” the second source said.
The source added that another few hundred metres from the spot, the Chinese have also managed to build jersey barriers along the river to stop it from coming into the camp sites when water level increases.
The sources also said the Chinese have constructed a small post in the Hot Springs area, barely 400 metres behind their point of entry earlier this year. “There are six shelters that have also been built nearby to house Chinese troops,” a source said.
Continuous infrastructure build-up
ThePrint reported in August that China was also building heliports close to its border with India.
The development came to light soon after satellite images surfaced showing China building a new surface-to-air missile location to cover a critical gap in its air defence.
Media reports have said Chinese army is undertaking road construction for faster deployment at the LAC with focus on the Depsang Bulge area and the DBO sector. Road construction is also being undertaken near Chuti Chang La, across the Depsang Bulge, just 8 km from LAC, the reports said.
The Chinese have also built a 20-km motorable road along Jiwan Nala in 2010 and 15-km motorable road along Raki Nala on the Indian side of the Depsang Plains.
Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it
India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.
But the news media is in a crisis of its own. There have been brutal layoffs and pay-cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacle.
ThePrint has the finest young reporters, columnists and editors working for it. Sustaining journalism of this quality needs smart and thinking people like you to pay for it. Whether you live in India or overseas, you can do it here.