India, China ramp up infra on north bank of Pangong Tso lake
ContextThree years after the violent clash in Galwan, both India and China are busy with construction in the area. China is building a bridge across Pangong Tso while India is constructing a road on the north bank. Chinese Construction Update:
- Main bridge construction underway, secondary bridge completed.
- Recent large-scale construction activity observed on the north bank.
- Road connectivity work along the south bank towards Shandong village in progress.
- Chinese air defence site located east of the Khurnak fort.
- Construction of a 22 km-long tunnel along the G-0177 expressway at Yuli, connecting to the G-216 highway in Tibet.
- Ongoing Deployments and Friction Points: Over one lakh troops remain deployed on both sides of the lake since 2020. Corps Commander-level talks have reached a stalemate due to remaining friction points at Depsang and Demchok.
- Demchok Situation: In Demchok, China has set up tents on the Indian side of Charding nala. Varying claims exist in the Charding La area, contributing to the ongoing dispute.
- India holds one-third of the 135 km-long Pangong Lake, with the disputed area known as the “fingers”.
- Indian claims extend till Finger 8, the perceived Line of Actual Control (LAC), while historically holding territory till Finger 4.
- Initial clashes in May 2020 occurred on the north bank, which has more significant differences in LAC perceptions compared to the south bank.
- Indian Army has a permanent position near Finger 3, while the Chinese have a base east of Finger 8.
- Increased budgetary allocation: Budget allocation for Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has significantly increased in recent years. In 2023-24, BRO’s capital budget was? 5,000 crore, a 43% increase from the previous year’s? 3,500 crore.
- ICBR Plan: Focus on the India-China Border Roads (ICBR) plan, with substantial investments made.
- Connectivity projects: BRO is nearing completion of key infrastructure projects in the eastern sector. Notable projects include the Sela, Nechipu, and Sela-Chhabrela tunnels, enhancing all-weather connectivity along the LAC.