"Colonelrajan Srinivas" (via indiaresists Mailing List)
2018-04-02 17:36:12 UTC
[image: IAF-aircraft.jpg-BCCl] "We have no connectivity, whether it is
roads or mobiles. It takes a mental toll. Even the evacuation of an injured
soldier be comes a huge logistical challenge," an Army official said.
KIBITHU/KAHO (ARUNACHAL PRADESH): 'Welcome to China' suddenly pops up on
the screen of one's mobile phone, which has been dead for several hours, as
one heads towards the border on a single, narrow and extremely bumpy road.
Displaying characters in Mandarin to indicate full connectivity, the phone
promptly switches to Beijing time, which is two-and-a-half hours ahead of
India. You then look across the Line
of Actual Control (LAC) to see the sprawling Tatu military complex of the
People's Liberation Army (PLA), which even includes a three-storey
building, connected by a smooth, wide, seemingly metalled road.
"But we have no connectivity, whether it is roads or mobiles. It takes a
mental toll. Even the evacuation of an injured soldier becomes a huge
logistical challenge since the only road coming to Kibithu from Tezu is
frequently blocked by landslides," says an Indian Army officer, keeping tabs
on the PLA troops across the unresolved border in this 'east of the
"If the road is cut off during hostilities, we will not be able to move
troops or equipment. The main operational challenge for us here is the lack
of roads, bridges and inter-valley connectivity, not military equipment or
manpower," he adds. In the entire Lohit Valley sector, for instance, there
is no concrete bridge after Hawai, which is 76km south of Kibithu.
Consequently, the Army is forced to make do with rickety foot-suspension
bridges over the Lohit river, called Ngi Chu across the LAC, and an optical
fibre communication line, which was laid way back in 2003 and has to be
"maintained" on a daily basis over a 280-km stretch.
This grim situation is repeated all along the unresolved 4,057-km LAC
stretching from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh, with India's lack of border
military infrastructure only serving to further compound the stark
asymmetry with China in terms of military capabilities.
China's assiduous building of military infrastructure in the Tibet
Autonomous Region, which includes 14 airbases, an extensive rail network
and over 58,000km of roads, gives it the capability to swiftly induct and
sustain 30-32 divisions (each with over 12,000 troops) against India.
But this last-mile connectivity for Indian troops remains a distant dream
till now. Only 28 of the 73 'strategic' all-weather roads, with more
east-west lateral links as well as better access routes to stra tegic peaks
and valleys, identified for construction almost two decades ago have been
fully completed till now.
In eastern Arunachal Pradesh, for instance, the road heads are around 20 to
70 km away from the LAC in most stretches, forcing Indian troops to
regularly undertake long-range patrols to "physically dominate" the
country's claim lines in the treacherous terrain. "Unlike us, the Chinese
troops largely remain in their rear areas because they can reinforce fast due
to their infrastructure build-up," says an officer.
There is now a renewed but belated thrust on road and communication
connectivity in the region, which has speeded up after the 73-day troop
faceoff at Doklam near the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet trijunction last year.
"We are working on 17 single-span bridges in the Lohit Valley area, which
will be 35-to 74-metre long and capable of even carrying tanks. We are also
working on a major bailey suspension bridge, which will be the first such
one between Hawai and Kibithu," says Colonel Rajeev Dhingra, commander of
the 48 Border Road Task-Force. The soldiers are keeping their fingers
Colonel N K Balakrishnan ( Retd ) ,
Phone- ( 0484) 2380987