China is reportedly constructing a “larger” second bridge over the strategic Pangong Tso lake in eastern Ladakh to help mobilise its troops faster in the region, prompting India to launch a strong protest against the move.
External affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi has said that the area is considered an “occupied area”, and the Chinese deployment of troops “cannot be reconciled with a normal relationship”, indicating a strong stance from the Indian side than earlier times.
Damien Symon, a geospatial intelligence researcher, who keeps track of Chinese activities along the LAC, posted satellite images of the new construction on Twitter.
China had deployed troops and improved its infrastructure in Pangong Lake in August 2020, triggering a standoff between Indian and Chinese troops.
China had earlier built a narrow bridge that could carry troops and vehicles, but the new one is said to be much more broader and larger and can carry tanks and heavy vehicles. It would reduce a 180-km distance considerably, according to some reports.
“Both these bridges are in areas that have continued to be under the illegal occupation of China since the 1960s,” Bagchi had said. “We have never accepted such illegal occupation of our territory, nor have we accepted the unjustified Chinese claim or such construction activities.”
India too has stepped up infrastructure in the region by building bridges and tunnels and deploying more troops. There are about 50,000-60,000 troops on both sides in the region.
“Government remains committed to the objective of creating infrastructure along the border areas to not only meet India’s strategic and security requirements but also facilitate the economic development of these areas,” Bagchi said.
The Army too has said that it was maintaining a high level of operational readiness after Army chief General Manoj Pande and Lt Gen Upendra Dwivedi, Northern Army Commander and Lt Gen A Sengupta, General Officer Commanding of the Leh-based 14 Corps visited the forward areas in Ladakh.