Road workers to reach Ladakh today as India, China hold talks

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NEW DELHI:The first batch of fresh workers of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) are expected to reach Ladakh on Tuesday even as talks continue at the military-level between India and China to disengage troops who have been in a stand off for almost six weeks at several locations along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

The batch of 1,600 workers from Jharkhand are the first to be inducted since the stand off began in early May and will be working on strategic border roads, including the critical Durbok-Shyok-Daulat Beg Oldie (DSDBO) that supplies troops posted in Sub Sector North, which is the epicentre of current tensions.

While thousands of troops have been deployed forward after China intruded at four locations, sources said that over the past few days, disengagement has taken place at several locations, indicating that a series of military talks from Lt Gen to Colonel level are bearing fruit.

“Talks at the brigade and battalion levels took place on Monday. Subsequent to the Lt Gen-level talks on June 6, disengagement has taken place at a number of places,” sources said, adding that the talks will continue in the coming days.

India is also determined to carry on border infrastructure works in eastern Ladakh and the entire LAC that extends to Arunachal Pradesh. The first batch of workers is expected to be supplemented with thousands more over the coming weeks as critical roads in Ladakh are scheduled to be completed this year.

The Covid-19 crisis and travel restrictions had slowed down work on the DSDBO road as well, a small portion of which remains to be blacktopped. Sources said that even during the stand off, work continued at a section of the road near the KM 225 mark and would be further hastened now with fresh workers arriving.

Intelligence reports indicate that the Chinese side too has been constructing at least two roads on its side of the LAC along the Galwan-Pangong Tso axis to facilitate the movement of troops and vehicles.

Officials said that talks on disengagement in Galwan and Hot Springs area would continue. One of the reasons for the stand off at Galwan was border infrastructure development by India, to which the Chinese side has raised objections. In particular, PLA troops have been objecting to an under-construction bridge and road in the Galwan valley that is well within the Indian side of the LAC. India has taken a clear stand that construction of the feeder road to the valley that leads from the DSDBO road is well within its rights.

Concerns, however, still remain over the Finger Area along the Pangong Tso lake where Chinese troops have taken up position at Finger 4, which India considers to be well within its side of the LAC. Chinese troops have constructed defences at the base and top of Finger 4, cutting off an over 50 sq km area up to Finger 8 that was earlier patrolled by Indian troops.





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