By Gaurav Bisht | Hindustan Times
ON THE WEB, 8 May 2021
With snow melting in the high-altitude areas, China’s People Liberation Army has begun constructing a post along the Indian border in the sensitive Kaurik sector of Himachal Pradesh’s tribal Lahaul and Spiti district.
Residents of border villages of Shaktot and Churup, who have started sowing crops, noticed that the PLA has operationalised its stone-crusher for raw material to build the post. An Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) recce team also reported seeing PLA officials inspecting the road and foot bridges across the Pareechu, a tributary of the Spiti river.
Pareechu originates in Indian territory but meanders back in the mountains of China before reaching the confluence with Spiti. A glacial lake burst on the course of the Pareechu on the Chinese side in 2004 and damaged road bridges on the banks of the Spiti and its main Sutlej river, also known as the powerhouse of the Himalayas for its hydel potential.
During the routine recce recently, the ITBP patrol reported seeing PLA soldiers, who had arrived in a vehicle, negotiating with the stone-crusher owner to supply construction material. The PLA is building more roads and buildings in the upper regions of Barangkali.
A permanent army camp of China is located at Dunmur village close to the Indian border post at Lepcha. There has been no construction activity along the Indian border for the past one year.
Himachal Pradesh shares a 260-km border with China in Kinnaur and Lahaul and Spiti districts. Of the total border length, 140km is in Kinnaur district, while 80km falls in Lahaul and Spiti district.
Five battalions of the ITBP guard the border with China in the state. In all, there are 20 ITBP posts along the border and Kaurik is a sensitive one being the last village beyond Sumdoh.
Last year, after the standoff between Indian and Chinese troops at Galwan valley in eastern Ladakh, China accelerated road construction at Tango and Yamrang, which are close to Chitkul and Charang villages on the Indian side. Both Yamrang and Tango are in China-controlled Tibetan Autonomous Region.
China stepped up activity in the region after air incursions in Kaurik sector in April last year. Chinese helicopters violated Indian airspace twice in April 2020.