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BRO is rapidly developing roads at India-China border to help army, giving strategic advantage to India

A 7-hour-long mule ride has now become a 40-minute journey near the strategic Doklam plateau.

In a big boost to India’s defence preparedness, the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has built an alternative road to connect the Doklam valley, the site of a 73-day military standoff between India and China in 2017 along the Chumbi valley where China, Bhutan and India converge.

According to the reports, the newly built alternative road will now make easier to access the area through two points, easing the logistic difficulties, and decreasing time. This will further make the process of deployment the forces at the border smoother and faster.

The new road stretches from the Indian Army’s Bheem base to Doka-la.

Location of Doklam plateau, image via stsfor.org

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During the Doklam standoff in 2017, the Indian Army was forced to move to the trijunction through a single road in the absence of an alternative, which had delayed the deployment of troops in Doklam. The new infrastructure will now change the military dynamics in the region favouring India in its eastern front.

With this development, reaching Indian Army’s Doka la base, situated at the edge of the Doklam plateau near Sikkim, now only takes 40 minutes as against a seven-hour journey earlier on a mule track. The new route will offer a strategic advantage to India as it can move troops much quicker than earlier.

The work on the road was authorised in 2015, even before the 73-day military standoff between India and China in 2017. According to the BRO, the newly made Bheem Base-Dokala road “was blacktopped on a war footing”. This has enabled defence preparedness of the country in the wake of any enemy aggression.

The Doklam standoff at the India-Bhutan-Tibet trijunction began on June 16, 2017, when the People’s Liberation Army arbitrarily entered Doklam in a bid to alter the status quo in violation of Beijing’s existing understanding with both India and Bhutan. The stand-off ended on August 28, 2017, when both Beijing and New Delhi announced that all their soldiers had been withdrawn from the disputed site.

Reportedly, the BRO is also building another road to Dokala on the Flag Hill-Dokala axis, which is scheduled to be finished by 2020. This road on the Flag Hill-Madhubala-Dokala route will pass through steep terrain at an altitude ranging from 3601 to 4200 metres. The BRO has already built 10 km of this road, a remaining distance of a little more than 20 km will be completed within a year.

In addition to these roads, the BRO will complete blacktopping another 11 India-China border strategic roads by this year. Further, the blacktopping of another nine roads will also be completed next year.

As per a Hindustan Times report, out of the 61 strategic roads covering 3,346 km being built by BRO along the India-China border, 3,298 km are now connected. Nearly 2,400 km of these roads are already blacktopped, making them all-weather roads.

“Construction of just six roads, three in the east and three in the west of the India-China strategic roads with a total length of just 58 km remain,” said Lieutenant General Harpal Singh, director general of BRO.

With rapid infrastructure growth and speedy work, the dynamics of this strategically important region has been changed significantly. With all-weather alternative access into Ladakh, passing through the Rohtang -Koksar- Kelong route into the Zanskar valley and further up into Nimu, the BRO is also constructing three more tunnels — Baralach La, Lachung La, and Tanglang La. The Rohtang tunnel is set to be opened this year.

The 180 km-long road parallel to the India-China border connecting Passighat to Brahmakund in Arunachal Pradesh is also complete. Significantly, Taksin and Tama Chung Chung are linked by the road connecting the Eastern and Western RALP (Rest of Arunachal Pradesh, a military term), cutting down thousands of kilometres of journey.

In the west, the critical 255 km Durbok-Shyok-Daulat Beg Oldie (DSDBO) road connecting Leh to the northernmost corner of India, which lies a few kilometres south of the crucial Karakoram Pass, is now complete and blacktopped. Most importantly, all the 40-odd bridges along the DSDBO road have been widened and strengthened to allow heavy vehicles to travel.

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