India, China hold 2nd round of LG-level talks

Top Army leadership reviews situation

NEW DELHI, June 22: Indian and Chinese militaries today held a second round of Lt General-level talks in an attempt to ease tensions between the two countries following the violent clashes in Galwan valley that left 20 Indian Army personnel martyred, even as country’s top Army leadership carried out a detailed review of the situation in Eastern Ladakh.
The meeting began at around 11.30 am at Moldo on the Chinese side of Chushul sector in Eastern Ladakh and continued till night.
The focus of the deliberations was on finalising modalities for disengagement of troops in Eastern Ladakh, people familiar with the issue said.
The first round of the Lt Gen talks was held on June 6 at the same venue during which both sides finalised an agreement to disengage gradually from all standoff points beginning with Galwan valley.
However, the situation along the border deteriorated following the violent clashes on June 15 as the two sides significantly bolstered their deployments in most areas along the 3,500-km de-facto border.
Though China has not revealed its casualty figure, there were reports that a Commanding Officer of the Chinese army was among those killed in the clashes. There is no official confirmation about it.
Separately, the top Army Commanders today held a detailed deliberation on the eastern Ladakh standoff and on the overall situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China after the Galwan valley clashes, official sources said.
On the first day of the two day conference, Army chief Gen M M Naravane carried out a comprehensive review of India’s security preparedness along the LAC with China in Ladakh, Arunachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, they said.
The Government has given “full freedom” to the armed forces, deployed along the 3,500-km de-facto border with China, to give a “befitting” response to any Chinese misadventure, Government sources said after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh reviewed the situation in Eastern Ladakh at a meeting with the top military brass on Sunday.
The Army has already sent thousands of additional troops to forward locations along the border in the last one week. The IAF has also moved a sizable number of its frontline Sukhoi 30 MKI, Jaguar, Mirage 2000 aircraft and Apache attack helicopters to several key air bases including Leh and Srinagar following the clashes.
The Indian delegation at the talks in Moldo was led by 14 Corps Commander Lt Gen Harinder Singh while the Chinese was headed by the Commander of the Tibet Military District.
Meanwhile, amidst the continuing standoff between the Indian Army and China’s PLA, the Centre today reviewed ongoing road projects along the Sino-Indian border, and decided to expedite work on 32 of them, officials said.
The decision was taken at a high-level meeting convened by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), and attended by the Central Public Works Department (CPWD), Border Roads Organisation (BRO) and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) among others.
“Works will be expedited on 32 road projects along the border with China and all concerned agencies will extend cooperation to fast-track the projects,” an official privy to the meeting said.
A total of 73 roads are being constructed along the Sino-Indian border. Of these, the CPWD is working on 12 and the BRO on 61, under the direct supervision of the MHA, which is the nodal authority for all border infrastructure-related projects.
The move comes amidst the ongoing row between the Indian Army and China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Ladakh sector.
Twenty Indian Army personnel were martyred in a clash with the PLA in the night of June 15-16 in the Galwan valley in Ladakh.
At least three vital roads are being constructed by the BRO in Ladakh, another official said.
Apart from the roads, priority will also be given to projects related to development of other border infrastructure like power, health, telecom and education.
According to the MHA officials, there has been a surge in works related to roads along the Sino-Indian order in recent years.
The formation-cutting works were completed for 470 km roads along the border in 2017-20, in comparison to just 230 km in 2008-17, the officials said.
Surface-clearing has been done for 380 km of roads in 2017-20, in comparison to just 170 km in 2008-17, they added.
Six road tunnels were constructed in 2014-20 in comparison to just one in 2008-14. Besides, additional 19 road tunnels are under planning stage, they said, adding a total of 14,450 metres of border road bridges were completed in 2014-20 in comparison to 7,270 metres in 2008-18.
A total of 4,764 kms of roads were constructed in 2014-20 in comparison to 3,610 kms in 2008-14.
Similarly, the budget for the road projects has also been increased in recent years.
Budget for road projects per year between 2008 and 2016 was in the range of Rs 3,300 crore to Rs 4,600 crore.
In 2017-18, Rs 5450 crore were earmarked for road projects for the border areas, Rs 6,700 crore in 2018-19, Rs 8,050 crore in 2019-20, Rs 11,800 crore in 2020-21.(PTI)