India to build roads linking four mountain passes along China border by 2020

Decision to speed up construction of roads taken at Army Commanders' Conference

India to build roads linking four mountain passes along China border by 2020
The Government has set a target to build roads to four strategically important high-altitude mountain passes along India's disputed border with China by 2020.

With the recent face-off between Indian Army and Chinese People's Liberation Army at Doklam Plateau in western Bhutan escalating tension between the two neighbours, New Delhi has decided to speed up building strategic infrastructure along the disputed Sino-India border.

A conference of the military commanders in New Delhi has resolved that the roads linking the four mountain passes – Niti, Lipulekh, Thang La 1 and Tsang Chok La – along the Line of Actual Control between India and China would be built on priority by 2020, Lt Gen. Vijay Singh, Director General (Staff Duties) of Indian Army, said on Friday.

The Line of Actual Control or the LAC acts as a de-facto border between India and China, which have been holding negotiations to settle the disputed boundary over the past 14 years.

“There would be a concerted heft towards road construction activities in this sector,” Lt. Gen. Singh said, while briefing journalists about the discussions being held at a conference of the Indian Army commanders in New Delhi.

The conference commenced on Monday and will conclude on Sunday.

India has been expediting construction of roads along its disputed border with China over the past few years – in response to the communist country's infrastructure building spree on its side of the LAC.

The recent 72-day-long stand-off at Doklam Plateau and reports about continued build-up by Chinese People's Liberation Army near India-China-Bhutan trijunction prompted New Delhi to add further momentum to the road construction projects along the LAC between the two nations.

The army commanders and the senior officials of the Ministry of Defence also discussed “a roadmap for intra-sector connectivity” along India-China disputed boundary in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh as well as “inter-sector connectivity with neighbouring areas” close to the LAC.

“It has also been decided to allot additional funds to the BRO (Border Roads Organization) for (the) Northern Command for development of roads and infrastructure,” said the senior Indian Army officer.

The Northern Command of Indian Army has its headquarters in Udhampur in Jammu and Kashmir and it is responsible for India's defence along its unsettled borders with China and Pakistan.  

Singh said that the Indian Army commanders “examined” proposals for “organizational changes of some of the formations” for “capability enhancement”.

The Lipulekh Pass is located at an altitude of 17500 feet on India-China-Nepal tri-junction boundary point. It links Chaudans Valley of Uttarakhand state of India and the old trading town of Taklakot in Tibet Autonomous Region of China.

New Delhi and Beijing had in 2012 agreed that the boundaries at tri-junction points among India, China and third countries – like Doklam Plateau and Lipulekh Pass – would be finalized in consultation with the third countries.

The Niti Pass is located at an elevation of 16,633 feet connecting Nanda Devi National Park in Uttarakhand with southern Tibet of China. The Thang La 1 and Tsang Chok La are also strategically important for India for preparation for a future conflict with China.

New Delhi apparently decided to speed up construction of roads linking the four mountain passes along India-China border in view of the spurt in incursion bids by Chinese People's Liberation Army in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir state of India.
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