The Army recently directed civil authorities to stop laying a road in Chumar area of Ladakh along the line-of-actual control (LAC) after the Chinese army objected to the project. Following this, Leh district authorities wrote to the home ministry, seeking clarification on the matter.
"We were constructing a road under the Border Area Development Programme (BADP) of the home ministry, but senior army officials told us to stop because the Chinese objected to it," a senior civic official said on the condition of anonymity.
"The BADP, which aims to ensure development along border areas, mandates construction of roads. However, the Army is objecting to it. It's a bit of contradiction, and we have written to the home ministry for clarification," he added.
As China does not view the LAC in Ladakh sector as “clearly demarcated”, it usually objects to construction activity along the same. In 2014, India had protested against the construction of a Chinese road link in the same area because it was reportedly being done in Indian territory.
"It's a 2.5-km road inside our territory; it does not even go in the direction of the border. We have taken up the matter with senior army officials and written to the defence minister," Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development (LAHDC) chief executive councillor Sonam Dawa told HT.
The Army had asked the contractor to stop laying the road about four days ago, after which the matter was reported to the LAHDC. District administration authorities said that though local army officers welcomed the laying of roads in the border areas, this decision was taken by higher-ups.
The armies of the two countries had faced off at Chumar in 2014, when People’s Liberation Army troops pitched tents in Indian territory and New Delhi rushed in military reinforcements to counter them.
Ladakh shares a 225-km Line of Control and a 955-km LAC with China. Sources said that the neighbouring country’s objections to development work along the border is likely to figure in talks during defence minister Manohar Parrikar's three-day visit to China in April.
Lt General DS Hooda, the General Officer Commanding-In-Chief of northern command, had recently said that China was way ahead of India in terms of infrastructural development along the LAC. He also said there was a massive push to upgrade roads in Ladakh.