New Delhi: The Indian Army has begun to get deliveries of new boats suited for deployment in water bodies like Ladakh’s Pangong Lake for ferrying troops and surveillance, sources said.
There are two types of boats that the army needed, one for patrolling and surveillance and the other for quick deployment of troops on the banks of the lake to reduce the time taken to manoeuvre the mountainous terrain.
The Indian Army is set to get 29 boats delivered in batches over the next few months. These boats can carry around 20 troops along with their equipment and can be used for quick mobilisation. In January, the army had ordered 12 boats for surveillance and patrolling purposes. Additionally, 17 more boats were required for ferrying troops that are part of quick reaction team.
“Both the orders were made around the same time earlier this year and now deliveries have started,” said an official. These boats can be used in all water bodies where the army is deployed, sources said
The indigenously built strong boats are superior to the capabilities of the boats that were being used till now. They have better anti-ramming capabilities and enhanced capacity to accommodate additional troops. The Indian Navy has also been using such flat bottomed boats for troop and equipment deployment.
The need was felt to upgrade the patrolling boats with anti-ramming capabilities and also have new boats for quick induction of troops amid the India-China military tussle in Ladakh that started last year in May. There were clashes between Indian and Chinese troops on the banks of Pangong Lake amid the stand-off last year.
It was felt that apart from patrolling, boats are needed for quick troop deployment as it would result in reducing deployment time that requires manoeuvring the tough terrain on land.
While there has been disengagement at the 14,000-feet high Pangong Lake, there has still not been any de-escalation across Eastern Ladakh. Other friction points including Gogra, Hot Springs and Depsang still need to be resolved.
Two-thirds of the 134 km long disputed Pangong Lake is under Chinese control. Effectively, India controls about 45 km of the lake. The contested area of the lake is divided into 8 Fingers, with India claiming territory up to Finger 8. Mountain spurs jutting into the lake are referred to as Fingers in military parlance to describe the features.
As part of the agreement, China has gone back to Finger 8 and India troops moved to Finger 3 near Dhan Singh Thapa Post. The face-offs would happen when Indian patrols go beyond Finger 4 and the Chinese also make incursions trying to come up to Finger 2. However, for the time being patrolling up to Finger 4 is not taking place as part of an agreement between India and China.
The Pangong Lake is frozen through the winter and the Indian Army was aiming to have new boats by this summer.
The Indian troops don’t have a luxury of a road as it ends one km before Finger 4. In this context, the new boats meant for quick deployment would be a big boost for the army.