India seems to have learnt its lesson from Kargil. Thirteen years after Pakistani troops and mujahideen infiltrated the sensitive sector in J&K, the country has plugged many gaps and beefed up defences along the LoC so that 1999 is not repeated.
The Centre is going all-out to ensure that supplies reach troops 24x7 in the forward areas. The work on the first phase 6-km strategic all-weather Zoji La tunnel — linking Srinagar to Leh — is scheduled to start next month.
Sources said after the Kargil war, the Indian Army has deployed nearly a division — around 10,000 troops — along the Mushkoh-Drass-Kaksar-Yaldor axis of the LoC. Just a brigade — 3,000 troops — used to man this place before May 1999. Striking capacity has also been doubled to 2,000 men.
According to Army brass, after Kargil, when Pakistan had occupied vacated Indian Army posts along the LoC in March 1999, it was decided that all posts with rare exception of the least vulnerable ones would be manned round-the-year.
With all battalion headquarters in the sector accessible through metal roads now, the troops at over 15,000 feet are taken care of even during the harsh winter months.
Besides, unmanned aerial vehicles, surveillance aircraft and satellites are routinely deployed over this sector to pick up military activity across the LoC or intrusion on the Indian side. The Indian defences are backed by Leh airport, which was turned into a fighter base after the Kargil war.
However, the key change after Kargil has been infrastructure upgrade. Currently, the following upgrade is on:
The 422-km Srinagar-Leh road is being made into double carriage way at the cost of Rs. 981.45 crore. The project which began in 2006 is scheduled to be completed by December 2015.
The advance landing ground at Kargil with a runway of 6,000 feet has been made operational.
An alternative road axis is being built to link Manali with Leh with a tunnel under Rohtang La. On the Ladakh side, Darcha-Padam-Nimu-Leh 251 km road is under construction to feed troops on the LoC and on the border with China.