In a significant development, the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) announced the completion of a critical 35-meter bridge in Ladakh last week, which will facilitate vehicular movement to the base camp of Siachen Glacier, the world’s highest battlefield at an altitude of 18,875 feet above sea level.
The base camp, however, is perched at an altitude of 12,000 feet.
Here are four points to note about the bridge:
1) Built under Project Himank, the bridge is specifically located on the Khlasar-Sasoma road, which acts as a critical link connecting Nubra Valley to the Siachen Glacier. According to the Press Trust of India, the construction of a bridge over the Chamesahn Lungpa stream took “meticulous planning, timely mobilisation and innovative employment of resources”.
2) Why did the BRO construct this bridge? According to a spokesperson for the BRO, the excess flow of water on the Chamesahn Lungpa stream during summers would hamper the movement of military personnel, rations, and equipment on the temporary bailey bridge that was earlier put in place, establishing limited connectivity on the Khlasar-Sasoma road.
3) The spokesperson told NDTV, “The limitation has been overcome after BRO engineers and personnel built the bridge, which is the first among series of seven bridges to be constructed on Khalsar-Sasoma road. It has provided a major relief by improving traffic movement for local villagers and military personnel, besides tourists going to the scenic Panamik village.”
4) Inaugurated by Lt Gen Harpal Singh, Director General, Border Roads, the bridge is open to the security forces, tourists and local civilians of the Leh-Ladakh region.
At altitudes ranging from 12,000-24,000 feet above sea level, and temperatures dipping to -50 degrees Celsius, one can ascertain that the only reason why the armed forces have soldiers posted at Siachen is that of the critical strategic value it holds for India vis-à-vis Pakistan.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)