New Delhi: Noting that there has been a “slight increase” in the strength of Chinese troops opposite India’s Eastern Command, Army Chief Gen Manoj Pande Thursday said situation at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) was stable but “unpredictable”.
General Pande also said adequate number of soldiers and equipment have been stationed at the sensitive border region to counter any attempt by China to unilaterally change the status quo.
He also said India has spent Rs 1,300 crore in the last three years to create habitat and other facilities for nearly 50,000 troops along the LAC, besides heated accommodation for about 400 artillery systems and nearly 500 tanks as well as armoured personnel carriers.
“The situation is stable, under control and yet unpredictable,” the Army chief said, while addressing his annual press conference.
He added that India has been able to “resolve five of the seven issues on the table during the talks” and that the country is highly prepared for any situation.
Asked about the situation at the LAC in Eastern Command, which saw clashes between Indian and Chinese troops in the Tawang sector in December, the Army chief admitted that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has increased its build up. He said the PLA troops had come for training but have not gone back.
It is to note that Chinese soldiers had first come in for an exercise in Eastern Ladakh and stayed put before violating the LAC at several points in 2020.
“The deployment from the adversary continues in the same manner. We have an equal number of troops and adequate reserves to cater for all contingency. In terms of numbers, I would say there has been a slight increase in troops that we find opposite our Eastern Command but we are closely watching their movement and activity there with all the resources that are available at our disposal,” he said.
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‘Army keeping track of PLA activities including Doklam’
General Pande also said the Army was keeping a close watch on Doklam. Talking about the operational preparedness of his soldiers, he added, “Our prime concern and focus area has been to maintain the desired level of operational readiness. Our soldiers have done this well at LoC and LAC.”
He also said the Army has been able to maintain a very strong defensive posture at the LAC and “prevent any attempts from our adversary to unilaterally change the status quo”.
When questioned about the fact that the Chinese have more equipment and better technology at its disposal, General Pande said capability was not based on numbers alone.
“Level of training, level of motivation, human resource, infrastructure and terrain is also important. Our Army is fully capable of dealing with the challenge,” he added.
The Army chief also said focus on the kind of infrastructure build-up by the Chinese has overshadowed what India has done so far. Giving some details, he said the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has built 6,000 kms of roads across India, with 2,100 km along its northern borders, in the past five years.
On the aspect of upgradation, he said close to 7,450 metres of bridges have been constructed or upgraded by the BRO which will enable tanks and artillery guns to pass smoothly.
He also mentioned the frontier highway in Arunachal Pradesh that seeks to connect the entire LAC, saying the plan for its construction has been “re-energised” and funding assigned.
On the issue of annual budgetary allocation for the Army, the government has assured the Army that its budgetary requirement will be met.
As of today, he said, the Army has spent 72 per cent of the close to Rs 36,000 crore allocated in the current Budget. The force hopes to spend the funding fully by the end of this financial year.
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