Face-off drags on, habitats set up for troops
The Indian Army has established habitat facilities for its nearly 50,000 additional troops deployed along the Line of Actual Control amid the ongoing border standoff with China in the Ladakh sector where temperatures have already reached minus 15-20 degree Celsius, sources in the defence ministry said.
This is the first time such a huge number of additional soldiers are being deployed in the forward areas of the LAC in the harsh terrain 12,000-14,000ft above sea level where temperatures are expected to dip to minus 30-40 degree Celsius by next month.
Indian and Chinese troops have been locked in a face-off at multiple points — Pangong Lake, Hot Springs and Depsang Plains — since May and eight rounds of military talks between the two sides have failed to find a solution.
“The Indian Army has now completed the establishment of habitat facilities for all troops deployed in the sector. This will also ensure operational efficiency of troops deployed in the harsh winter,” said a defence ministry official.
The living accommodation, he said, includes fast erectable modular shelters that will protect the troops from the severe cold and chilling winds. Besides the smart camps with integrated facilities that have been built over the years, the additional facilities will include state-of-the-art habitats with integrated arrangements for heating, electricity, water, health and hygiene.
Special shelters for material and equipment have also been put in place to save them from heavy snow.
Another ministry official said providing logistics in peacetime deployment was a big challenge in the winter. “The habitats were set up in quick time and the entire war machinery was pressed into action,” he said.
Sources in the defence ministry said the army had increased its military readiness at the high altitude to deal with any Chinese provocation.
The official said the army recently procured high-altitude gear and had stocked up on food, fuel and ammunition to sustain the six-month winter deployment.
Keeping in mind the Chinese army’s massive deployment, the Indian Army has put in place mirror deployment along the LAC, backed by battle tanks, missile systems and frequent sorties by the Indian Air Force’s combat aircrafts.
“The Indian Army has also increased its military readiness and rejigged its deployment at several points,” the official said.
Since May, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army has altered the unmarked LAC at several friction points and as per estimates it has taken over close to 1,000 sqkm of India-claimed territory.