The construction of a road along the China border in Ladakh, which was stopped following objections from Chinese soldiers, will resume in April-May next year when the weather turns warmer. Temperatures in the area often fall to -20 degrees Celsius.
The 8 km road, half of which is ready and motorable, was being built under the UPA’s flagship National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and would have connected the last two inhabited villages in the Demchok area, 300 km south-east of Leh, on the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control (LoAC), the effective border with China.
According to army sources, Chinese troops shouted at the villagers who were building the road in the presence of Indian troops, but did not threaten them with guns. Following this, the district authorities decided to stop the work.
A nullah (narrow stream) marks the LoAC in the area, where, the army admits, the border is “very fluid”.
Chinese troops have entered Indian territory several times in the recent past and left Chinese markings on rocks and boulders on this side of the LoAC.
“The two sides have different perceptions of the LoAC; so, such things are normal. We are waiting for more details,” Col. J.S. Brar, spokesperson of the army’s 15th Corps, told Hindustan Times.
Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has taken up the matter with the central government. “The Centre will take up the issue with the Chinese authorities,” he told reporters in Jammu.
Meanwhile, in Delhi, Union Minister for Renewable Energy and National Conference president Farooq Abdullah, denied that the work had been stopped due to Chinese threats.
“We don’t want the labourers working there to die of cold,” he said.
“The road is being constructed on our side of the border and the Chinese have no business to object to it,” Nawang Rigzin Jora, J&K tourism minister, told Hindustan Times.