China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is building a bridge over the Pangong Tso on its territory in Khurnak, the narrowest part of the lake, ThePrint has learnt.
Sources in the defence and security establishment said the bridge is being built with pre-fabricated structures to counter any August 2020 like operation of the Indian Army in future, which led to the capture of dominating heights in the southern banks of Pangong Tso.
The bridge, which is under construction, will cut down a 180 km loop from Khurnak to the south banks through Rudok, sources said.
This would mean that the route from Khurnak to Rudok will be 40-50 kms and not nearly 200 kms earlier, they added.
The 135-km long Pangong Tso, a landlocked lake that is partly in the Ladakh region and partly in Tibet, has seen tensions between India and China since May 2020.
More road beings constructed by China
The PLA has also initiated the process to build a road to and from the bridge and will add to a new route for faster deployment of soldiers and material, the sources explained.
“We utilised a chink in their armour on the southern banks in August 2020. The Chinese were taken aback by the swift movement and build-up. They did move in and amassed strength after the first 24-48 hours but it was too late to offer us any resistance.
“They have probably learnt the lesson and since they are quick in taking remedial measures, multiple steps have been initiated to ensure that their movement through that area is quicker and have the ability to scale up presence in a big way,” a source said explaining why the Chinese are building new roads and the bridge here.
Sources also said that while the stand-off was on in that region between September 2020 and mid-2021, the Chinese had managed to build a new road to the Moldo garrison to circumvent the visibility arc of the Indian soldiers and equipment on top of advantageous heights.
India and Chinese troops had carried out disengagement from the southern banks in February last year.
“The Chinese had carried out initial work on road during the standoff and completed the black topping middle of 2021,” a third source said.
Sources said that with the new construction, the PLA aims to have multiple routes to counter any possible operations by the Indian forces in the southern banks in future.
As reported by ThePrint earlier, China has ramped up its infrastructure build-up along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) even during the stand-off. This included construction of new roads, surface to air missile sites, heliports, dwellings among others.
India too has carried out multiple infrastructure build-up along the LAC with construction of new roads, tunnels, underground ammunition depots, and induction of new warfighting equipment.