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From 7-Hour Mule Ride to 40 Minutes by Road: New Doklam Route to Change India, China Border Equation

The Doklam tri-junction. (File photo)

The Doklam tri-junction. (File photo)

Work on the Bheem Base-Dokala road was authorised in 2015, much before the 73-day military standoff between India and China in 2017.

New Delhi: An alternative road, built by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), has made it easier for the Indian troops to enter the Doklam Valley — the site of a 73-day military standoff between India and China two years ago.

The road, previously a mule track, was completed last year and goes from Bheem base to Dokala.

Reaching the Indian Army’s Doka la base, located at the edge of the Doklam plateau near Sikkim, now takes a mere 40 minutes as against a seven-hour journey earlier on a mule track. The new route can alter the military equation in the region, as in 2017, the Indian Army had to move to the tri-junction area via a single road.

Work on the road was authorised in 2015, much before the 73-day military standoff between India and China in 2017. The BRO is planning to construct another motorable road on the Flag Hill-Dokala route by March 2021, the official said.

"Currently, Dokala is connected to India only through 'Tri junction-Bheem base-Dokala' route, which was completed in 2018. Therefore, construction on another motorable road from Flag hill has begun," said an official.

These roads are expected to streamline the movement of Indian troops to the sensitive region. The 33.80-km Flag Hill-Dokala road is currently a foot track, he added.

Around 11 km of the road from Flag Hill has already been constructed and the rest is expected to be complete by March 2021, he said. The road would be 6-metre wide, out of which 4.5 metre of the width would be covered in asphalt, the official said.

According to the BRO, the newly made Bheem Base-Dokala road "was black topped on a war footing" and has enabled "defence preparedness of the country in the wake of any enemy aggression". It has also eased logistic difficulties, reduced time and made the process of deployment smoother, BRO said.

Indian and Chinese armies on Tuesday held ceremonial Border Personnel Meetings (BPM) at Nathu La, Bum La, Kibithu and eastern Ladakh to celebrate the Chinese national day. The meetings took place before the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to India.

Xi is likely to visit Mamallapuram near Chennai in the second week of this month for a second informal summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to work out a roadmap for the bilateral ties for the next five years.

The 2017 standoff between India and China in the Doklam had begun after the Chinese army tried to build a road in the area disputed by China and Bhutan and it was resolved diplomatically.

In June 2017, Chinese and Indian troops faced off on the disputed Doklam plateau between Bhutan and China after the Chinese People's Liberation Army began building roads through the area. The stand-off ended on August 28, 2017 when both Beijing and New Delhi announced that all their soldiers had been withdrawn from the disputed site.

(With inputs from PTI)

first published:October 03, 2019, 10:58 IST