Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, June 16
The Galwan valley in eastern Ladakh has strategic significance because of its proximity to the vital road link to Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO), the world’s highest landing ground that lies close to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and serves as an important aerial supply line. This DBO area is known in the Army as Sub-Sector North.
The Darbuk-Shyok-DBO link
- India is building 255-km Darbuk-Shyok-DBO road along LAC
- Will reduce travel time between Leh and DBO from 2 days to 6 hrs
- Control of ridgeline along Galwan allows domination of road
- Control of valley also gives access to Aksai Chin plateau, through which Xinjiang-Tibet highway passes
India is raising border infrastructure in this area, including the all-weather 255-km Darbuk-Shyok-DBO road. This road runs almost parallel and at places very close to the LAC and extends up to the base of the Karakoram pass, which when complete, will reduce the travel time from Leh to DBO from the present two days to just six hours. Road and bridge construction works have recently been speeded up with a large number of labourers being ferried in.
The valley connects with Shyok on the road under construction and lies between DBO and Chushul to the south near Pangon Tso, another hotspot, providing convenient access to Shyok and the areas beyond.
Control of the ridgeline along the valley also allows domination of the road. Looking eastwards, control of the Galwan valley gives access to the Aksai Chin plateau, through which part of the Xinjiang-Tibet highway passes. While the road is highly prone to Chinese interdiction or long-range artillery, it serves a vital peacetime role in maintaining forward posts and building up reserves. An alternative route to DBO is being developed from a different axis in Ladakh that has adequate depth from the LAC.
The Galwan river flows westwards from the disputed Aksai Chin region into Ladakh after originating in Samzungling area on the eastern side of the Karakoram range and joins the Shyok river, one of the tributaries of the Indus. The fast-flowing river runs for about 80 km.
The Galwan river is to the west of China’s 1956 claim line in Aksai Chin. However, in 1960 China advanced its claim line to the west of the river along the mountain ridge adjoining the Shyok river valley. India had established some military posts in this sector. During the 1962 Sino-Indian conflict, Indian posts in the Galwan Sector were attacked by the Chinese, resulting in casualties. After the war, this sector remained dormant till the recent face-offs.
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