India says it is monitoring situation at Pangong Tso lake after reports of second bridge by China
Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson said that the area in question has been under the occupation of China for decades.
India on Thursday said that it was monitoring the situation in East Ladakh after reports had emerged of China building a second bridge across the Pangong Tso lake, PTI reported.
Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said that India had always felt that the area in question has been under the occupation of China for decades.
“We have seen reports on this bridge,” Bagchi said during a media briefing, according to ANI. “We are monitoring the situation. Of course, we always felt it was occupied...Talks [are] on with the Chinese side.”
He also said that he would not be able to address the matter from a military perspective and that the Ministry of Defence would be in a better position to speak about the implications, according to PTI.
Several media reports, citing satellite images from the region, had claimed on Wednesday that China is building a second bridge, parallel to the first one, across East Ladakh’s Pangong Tso lake. The bridge can potentially give the People’s Liberation Army quicker connectivity through the terrain.
Pangong Tso lake was one of the prominent flashpoints when border tensions between the two countries flared up in June 2020. One-third of the nearly 160 kilometres-long lake lies in India, the other two-thirds in China. In February 2021, Indian and Chinese armies agreed to pull back troops from the north and south banks of the lake.
The new bridge could have a width of 10 metres and a length of 450 metres, the Hindustan Times had reported, citing Damien Symon, an analyst who tracks Chinese activities along the Line of Actual Control. Symon had posted satellite images of the bridge on Twitter.
“Recent imagery [dated April 29] shows roadworks have begun to join the bridge most likely to Rutog, giving China’s PLA troops in the area quicker connectivity through the terrain,” Symon had said in his tweet.
The second bridge looks visibly broader than the previous bridge, India Today reported, adding that work on the bridge had started sometime between late March and early April this year.
Reports of China building the first bridge across the Pangong Tso lake in East Ladakh, more than 20 kilometres east of Finger 8 on the lake’s north bank, had surfaced on January 4.
While India claims the Line of Actual Control to be at Finger 8, China claims it at Finger 4. India has a permanent position at the Dhan Singh Thapa post near Finger 3, while China has a base east of Finger 8.
Both the bridges will reduce the distance between the Chinese Army positions on the northern bank of the lake to a base on the eastern side in Rutog by almost 150 km.
China has continued to build infrastructure along the border with India.
On Monday, Lieutenant General RP Kalita, the general officer commanding-in-chief of the Eastern Command, said that the Chinese armed forces are developing infrastructure along the international border in Arunachal Pradesh.