China has begun constructing a second bridge across the Pangong Lake that will be capable of accommodating heavy armoured vehicles, months after completing another bridge in the same region that is claimed by India, reported Hindustan Times.
According to the HT report, second bridge is being constructed parallel to the first bridge, which is narrower and was completed in April this year.
The first bridge is being used to move equipment such as cranes needed to build the second one, according to experts who analysed the latest high-resolution satellite imagery of the site.
When reports about the construction of the first bridge linking the north and south banks of the strategic Pangong Lake emerged in January, the external affairs ministry said the structure is located in areas under illegal occupation by China for 60 years.
The ministry’s spokesperson, Arindam Bagchi, said then that India has never accepted such illegal occupation.
Damien Symon, an analyst with The Intel Lab who tweets as @detresfa_, said an analysis of satellite imagery suggested that work on the first bridge – which he described as a “service bridge” – had been wrapped up by April. “Cranes were seen on site earlier as well, supporting preparations for the entire project,” he said.
The second bridge is in an advanced stage, and “shallow foundations and columns to support each of the spill-out abutments” are visible alongside the first bridge, Symon said. “The current assessment indicates there could be a space or gap left to allow for the movement of boats under the second bridge as well,” he said.
Measurements indicate the second bridge will finally have a width of 10 metres and a length of 450 metres. “Road connectivity work has begun in parallel, linking both ends of the bridge,” Symon said.
The new bridge is being built simultaneously from both banks and its dimensions suggest it will be capable of accommodating larger and heavier vehicles, including tanks and armoured vehicles.
Both bridges are located across the narrowest section of the 134-km-long strategic lake.
The first bridge was located south of a crucial People’s Liberation Army (PLA) position on the north bank of Pangong Lake, at a spot where the two banks of the lake are 500 metres apart.
Both bridges will cut the distance between Chinese troop positions on the north bank to a key PLA base at Rutog, on the eastern end of the lake, by around 150 km.