New Delhi: While the standoff between India and China continues, India is nearing completion of an ambitious project to provide much-needed alternative connectivity to a remote, strategically important outpost near the contested Line of Actual Control (LAC) and reshape the strategic landscape of Ladakh, according to a media report.
The project involves building a new road to northernmost military base Daulat Beg Old (DBO), near the China border that will enhance security and cannot be seen from the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China.
The new road, indispensable due to its invisibility from the LAC, will be used for the movement of soldiers, weapons and logistics to bolster the front lines, the report said.
Since May 2020, the tensions between India and China have escalated and despite both nations engaging in negotiations, resolution seems a distant dream. The existing road to DBO from Darbuk is more vulnerable due to its proximity to the LAC. This new road, which branches off from Sasoma in the Nubra Valley, will provide a secure alternative for troop and equipment movement, the report further said.
For Border Roads Organisation (BRO), which has been at the helm of this ambitious project, the task ahead is not simple as the construction of this 130-kilometre road involves terrain challenges that would test even the most experienced engineers. It also requires building a bridge over the Shyok River and working in glaciated areas.
According to the media report, officials have confirmed that despite these challenges, the road will be operational by November 2023 for critical military activities, with complete blacktopping expected within 12 months. Latest technologies are being harnessed to meet the project deadlines, which includes the use of geocells—three-dimensional, expandable panels—to stabilise road surfaces in these difficult terrains. Meanwhile, BRO has also chalked out plans for a 7-km tunnel under Saser La to ensure all-weather connectivity by 2028.
The BRO has concluded nearly 300 vital projects costing around Rs 8,000 crore in the last three years. These include significant road networks like Nimu-Padam-Darcha, Chushul-Dungti-Fukche-Demchok and Likaru-Mig La-Fukche. The alternative route via Nubra Valley and over Saser La is a remarkable feat, especially given the glaciated region’s challenges. The new road is seen as India’s proactive step to ensure it is not left behind in the race to build strategic infrastructure near its border, the report said.