India on Thursday criticised Islamabad for starting the construction of a dam on the Indus river in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir – a project backed by China – and called it an attempt by the neighbouring country to bring about material changes in the Indian territory under its illegal occupation.

“India strongly protested against construction of Diamer Basha dam to Pakistan government,” Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said at a press briefing. “The dam will submerge a large part of land of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.”

Srivastava added that India has repeatedly opposed the construction of the dam. “We have also consistently conveyed our protest and shared concerns with both China and Pakistan on all such projects in Indian territories under Pakistan’s illegal occupation where it has no locus standi,” he said.

The Diamer Basha dam project was inaugurated by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in Chilas city in Gilgit-Baltistan on Wednesday, Dawn reported. In May, the Pakistani government had signed a contract with a Chinese state-run firm to build the country’s third largest dam. The project is expected to be completed by 2028. India had raised strong objections about the project then too.

Pakistan’s Council of Common Interests had approved the project for construction in 2010 but it was delayed because international agencies refused to provide loans to the country due to India’s concerns.

The tensions between India and China have also consistently escalated over the past few months. Indian and Chinese troops clashed in the Galwan Valley in Ladakh, along the Line of Actual Control on June 15. The clash led to the deaths of 20 Indian soldiers. Following this, disengagement talks between the two sides were hastened. The representatives of the two countries met for a fourth time on July 14. Previous meetings had been held on June 6 (before the clash), June 22 and June 30.