In making for two decades, DSDBO road now upsets China

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New Delhi: The 255-km Darbuk-Shyok-Daulat Beg Oldie (DSDBO) road joining Leh to the Karakoram Pass, which has become a thorn in China‘s flesh, has been in the making for around two decades and is expected to be completed by this year. The road from Darbuk traverses at an altitude of 14,000 feet and reaches Shyok, the last Indian village in the region. Between Shyok and Karakoram Pass (that divides Ladakh from China’s Xinjiang province) lies DBO, a plateau at an altitude of over 16,000 feet and the location of an Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) used by the air force to drop supplies.

DBO is India’s northernmost corner, which in army parlance is called Sub-Sector North, and building a road till here has been of vital importance to India. DBO is located only 9 km away from the Line of Actual Control with China and the road will help manage the border and the areas adjoining Aksai Chin, Chip Chap River and Jiwan Nalla. It will also ensure faster deployment of troops in the area. Before the laying of the road, the only way to reach the area was via the ALG, where heavy-lift aircraft, such as the C-130J, can land.

From the DSDBO road, a road branches off towards Galwan Valley, a hill feature, which India wants to protect because it overlooks the area around the main road. The branch road has prompted the stand-off in Galwan Valley. Indian troops have been patrolling up to this area, but the idea now is to have a road access and presence here. China has objected to this and doesn’t want India to utilise the DSDBO road to its full potential, which has led to the ongoing confrontations.

The construction of the DSDBO had first started in 2000 and was to be completed by 2012 at a cost of Rs 320 crore. The road, which was being monitored by the PMO, was aligned with the Shyok riverbed that led to it being damaged every summer during flooding. Later, major portions of the road were realigned, keeping them away from the river. In April last year, a motorcycle expedition that was flagged off from Leh had traversed across Eastern Ladakh and reached the Karakoram Pass. In October, defence minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated the 430-m Colonel Chewang Rinchen bridge that joins Durbuk to DBO. India has decided to not stop road construction on its side of the LAC despite the border confrontations.





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