NREGA Road Work Stopped In Leh After Chinese Army Objections

The work on a link-road in Demchok in South-eastern Ladakh region has been stopped after objections were raised by the Chinese Army, barely months after repeated incursions by it in that area.  The incident took
nrega road work stopped in leh after chinese army...
PTI November 30, 2009 20:28 IST

The work on a link-road in Demchok in South-eastern Ladakh region has been stopped after objections were raised by the Chinese Army, barely months after repeated incursions by it in that area. 

The incident took place at the village of Demchok on the Indian side of Line of Actual control, about 300-kms south-east of Leh district headquarters, official sources said.

Work on the road, which was to connect two villages - the last inhabitated areas on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) on Sino-Indian border in Demchok - was stopped during the last week of October, they said.  The road was being built under Centrally-sponsored National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS).

After construction of nearly 3.8 kms of road, the Chinese Army sought a flag meeting with Indian Army and raised strong objections over the construction as they consider the area as disputed, officials said.

 State Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said he has informed the Centre that the Chinese had raised objections over the road construction. "The Centre will take up the issue with the Chinese authorities," he said. 

Cherring Dorjee, Chief Executive Councillor of Laddakh Autonomous Council said, "About a month ago the village head of Domchu informed me that they are constructing a road upstream of Domchu-nalla, well within our boundary and then the Chinese Army came from the other side and stopped the work."

Dorjee said it was the same area where Chinese Army had sneaked in and painted rocks in their native script.

"Yes, it is the same area and the Chinese Army were actually coming to our side in the recent past. They have built a road on their side and we had no objection but this road is well within our boundary," Dorjee said.

Lok Sabha member from the area Hassan Khan said villagers informed him about the construction work being stopped after the completion of nearly half of the sanctioned length.

"The villagers have asked the district authorities, the executing agencies and the Deputy Commissioner to intervene in the matter," he said. 

Deputy Commissioner Ajit Kumar Sahu had visited the area and submitted his report to the state government and submitted a report to the Chief Minister.

The state government had planned construction of seven link-roads in Niyoma and Damchok areas to increase connectivity and provide job opportunity to the people of this remote and treacherous mountain region, which is close to the Line of Actual Control. The road was the first such link between T-Point and CNN-Point. 

Meanwhile, Defence Minister A K Antony told Parliament on Monday that there has not been any significant change in Chinese activities along the Indian border in last few years and there was no commonly marked Line of Actual Control between the two countries. 

"There is no commonly delineated LAC between India and China and there has not been any significant change in the Chinese activity along LAC over the last few years," Antony said in reply to a Lok Sabha query. 

Antony added that the issue of incursions was taken up with Chinese authorities through established mechanisms such as Hot-lines, flag meetings, border meetings and normal diplomatic channels to maintain peace. 

Unwilling to go by the contention that work on the link road in Demchok in Ladakh was stopped due to Chinese objections, Union Minister Farooq Abdullah on Monday  claimed that it may have been done due to severe cold there.

"I am telling you that because of the weather conditions prevailing in that area, many of those people have to be evacuated because they can't work in those conditions. It is below 30 degrees C," he said.

"The Chinese will keep saying anything. We have to do what is in our interest," he told reporters outside Parliament on being asked whether the work was stopped due to objections from China.

Work on the link-road in Demchok in South-eastern Ladakh region was stopped in the last week of October. 

Congress on Monday  said that countries should respect India's sentiments and its border.  

"We as a party want that we should have good relations with all our neigbouring countries... we respect other countries and other countries should also respect our sentiments, our achievements and our borders," Party spokesperson Shakeel Ahmed told reporters in reply a question on the issue in the AICC briefing. 

"It is for the government spokesperson to speak on this. There is no party angle into it... Minister of State (MoS) for Defence Pallam Raju has already said we will resolve, through talks, if there is any dispute," he added. PTI

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