India is working on two key roads near the China border in eastern Ladakh — the site of a tense weeks-long border stand-off with its northern neighbour — to provide connectivity to an important forward area that the military calls Sub-Sector North (SSN), two senior officers familiar with the developments said on Monday.
Both projects are being executed by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), which is ferrying 11,815 workers to areas near the China border in Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand for building strategic roads.
India is not allowing the border confrontation with China to hinder strategic road projects in forward areas, including the Ladakh sector, where soldiers of the two nations are eyeball-to-eyeball at four locations along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), said the second officer cited above.
The road from Sasoma to Saser La, at a height of almost 17,800 feet, is a tough project that falls under “Hardness Index-III”, the BRO’s top-most classification for hard projects, the second official added. Experts believe that the road can be extended to Brang Sa, Murgo and eventually DBO in the long term, sources say.
“There’s a 200% need to have an alternative road to DBO in Sub-Sector North. The DS-DBO road can be interdicted at several choke points by Chinese forces during hostilities.
While the road from Sasoma to Saser La can connect with DBO, it will be an engineering challenge due to the terrain. It may require construction of a tunnel too,” said Lieutenant General BS Jaswal (retd), a former Northern Army commander.