India seems to have learnt quite a lesson from the Doklam standoff with China at the Nathu La border in Sikkim. Post the standoff, it decided to upgrade the border infrastructure in numerous states, and it has now been reported that India plans to build and develop more number of airfields in eastern Ladakh along the China border.
The Air Force is said to be looking for airfields in the region, from where its aircraft can conveniently take off and land as and when required.
"In Ladakh, we have realised that deploying troops for a long time or throughout the year is not feasible. Harsh winters and rough terrain make the job all the more difficult. This is why we plan to develop airfields where we can deploy troops in large numbers using air assets," a defence source told India Today.
With this, the Indian Air Force may once again start working on the Nyoma airfield project. The work at this airfield has remained halted for a while now. Located at a height of 13,000 feet, Nyoma airfield may now just get a new lease of life as developing an airfield in Chushul is reportedly not feasible.
Apart from Ladakh, India has been working on strengthening the infrastructure at various locations all over the country and has already begun upgrading the seven Advance Landing Grounds in Arunachal Pradesh. Additionally, the state of Uttarakhand too has been witnessing quite some activity in terms of developing the security infrastructure.
Through a plan approved at the army's commanders' conference in New Delhi earlier in October, roads will be constructed in the area that leads up to the Uttarakhand border to make the region more accessible for the army. "The issues that were highlighted during the conference related to infrastructure and capability development along the borders," the Indian Express quoted Lt General Vijay Singh as saying.
He also explained that the army studied and planned a few changes to the existing facilities in the region to enhance the accessibility. For this, more funds will now be allotted to the Border Roads Organisations, which is in charge of building roads and infrastructure in this region and other similar terrains.
The Uttarakhand border has in the past seen the presence of Chinese troops. The PLA had, in July, briefly infiltrated into India through the Barahoti region of Uttarakhand's Chamoli district. "On both occasions [on July 15 and July 25] about 15-20 Chinese soldiers transgressed into the territory at Barahoti that India and China lay claim upon. The soldiers stayed there for a while and returned," a source told the daily. It was also said that such transgressions in the area were commonplace.
Apart from Uttarakhand, the army will also enhance the infrastructure in a few other regions. "To that end, four passes — Niti, Lipu lekh, Thang La 1, and Tsangchokla — will be connected by 2020 on priority," Singh added.
The decision comes after the Doklam region has seen quite some Chinese activities in the last few weeks. It has earlier been said that China's People's Liberation Army has once again started expanding roads at the Indo-China border in Doklam – about 10 kilometers from the previous site.
While much has been said about increased Chinese activity in the region, the Ministry of External Affairs had slammed these reports and said that there was no fresh and unusual activity at the Doklam region and that the situation there was peaceful. It also said that the "alleged Chinese build up was well within China."