In a major move to counter China’s designs amidst ongoing tensions at the Line of Actual Control (LAC), India has started the process to build a strategic road towards the right side of the Pangong Lake near the LAC to improve its connectivity to the Army posts near Finger 1 and 2 areas of the lake.
At present, there is no proper road connectivity on the right side of Pangong Lake.
The new 38-km road from Lukung to Chartse, besides offering connectivity to the right side of the Pangong Lake, could also shorten the distance to the contentious Hot Springs area where India and China are engaged in a stand-off since 2020.
News18 has exclusively accessed a bid document of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) issued on June 8, which asks for work to begin on the 38-km long Lukung-Chartse road at the cost of Rs 154 crore with a completion period of 30 months.
“The alignment is a greenfield alignment. An existing ‘kacha’ track may be found along the alignment. Therefore, no carriageway exists along the alignment,” the document says. The road will come up as a highway as per NHAI standards, enabling the movement of heavy vehicles with troops and equipment.
Lukung is a village near the western end of the Pangong Lake. Chartse is located near Finger 1 on the right side of Pangong Lake where India has a security post and forces are deployed.
Right now, there is no proper road connectivity to that side of the Pangong Lake but once this road is ready, it will reduce the distance time by one-third to reach these forward areas. A retired officer said it takes over one-and-a-half-hours to reach Chartse from Lukung but the same could reduce to just 30 minutes once the road is ready.
This highly strategic project could also reduce the overall distance to the Hot Springs area, a major friction point between India and China since 2020 where a stand-off continues though some disengagement took place last year.
“The take-off point is at km 0.000 Lukung of Lukung-Chartse road of UT of Ladakh and ends at km 37.398. The project alignment is approachable from Lukung side through Tangtse-Lukung road for execution of work,” the bid document mentions.
The government in 2020 had waived the requirement of environmental clearance for such strategic projects near the LAC.
“There is an ongoing military stand-off at Line of Actual control (LAC) between India and China, which can escalate at any point of time, if remain unresolved. Hence, the construction of these roads is of upmost priority without any undue delay,” the document mentions, referring to such projects.
More Strategic Projects on Anvil
India is also working on two other major projects in Ladakh, near LAC, which includes 145 km Chushul-Dungti-Fukche-Demchok road and the highest airfields at Nyoma, which is believed to be an answer to China’s rapid infrastructure development on its side of the border.
News18 had spoken to the Director General of Border Roads Organisation, Rajeev Chaudhry, two days ago where he had said that Nyoma airfield will be the highest airfield in the world, which will start soon. The Nyoma airfield in Ladakh will be capable of fighter aircraft and was an answer to China’s infrastructure work.
Replying to a question about the important projects, which are underway in Ladakh, Rajeev Chaudhry said, “We are starting Nyoma Airfield very soon which is going to be the highest airfield in the world.”
Director General BRO further told News18 that the Chushul-Demchok road along the LAC is also of prime importance to them. “The most important project is the Chushul-Dungti-Fukche-Demchok road which is a 145 km-long road along the LAC, 15 KM its hugging LAC. Strategically, this is a very important road,” Rajeev Chaudhry said.