China constructing model villages opposite the LAC, say sources

New security posts are also coming up about six or seven km from the LAC, sources said

May 26, 2023 12:26 am | Updated 07:29 am IST - New Delhi

Army vehicles move towards Line of Actual Control in Leh on September 27, 2020.

Army vehicles move towards Line of Actual Control in Leh on September 27, 2020. | Photo Credit: PTI

China is continuing to expand the network of model villages or ‘Xiaokang’ (moderately prosperous) villages opposite the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Middle sector and Eastern sectors. In addition, new posts are also coming up about 6 or 7 km from the LAC in the Middle sector, according to official sources and, in some areas, the frequency of patrolling has gone up significantly.

Opposite Barahoti, which has seen face-offs in the past, the Chinese are building villages at a rapid pace, sometimes as many as 300-400 houses in multi-storey blocks within 90-100 days, one source said, citing intelligence inputs. On the increase in patrols, the source said that PLA patrols have been observed in 15 days or so compared to once in a season earlier, which is about three or four months. Small patrols are also being seen in Mana, Neeti and Thangla areas.

“Construction of a likely border settlement village was observed northwest of Tholing area and a military complex is also under construction close by. Superstructures of buildings in both the locations are complete,” a second source said.

Military complex

Similarly, in Arunachal Pradesh, opposite the Kameng area, two villages have come up in Cuna country consisting of 41 dwelling units, greenhouses and solar-lighting and there are about 200 inhabitants from the Menba ethnic community, the source said. Like in several other places, there is a military complex adjacent to the village consisting of multi-storey buildings secured by a perimeter wall with CCTVs and watch towers, the source added. As reported earlier, a large number of ‘Xiaokang’ villages are under construction all along the LAC, including at Chumbi valley facing the strategically crucial ‘Siliguri corridor’.

While China continues to expand infrastructure, India too has almost reached parity in terms of roads and other infrastructure in the Middle sector. There has also been major induction of new technology by the Indian Army along the LAC to augment surveillance and capacity.

Since the beginning of the stand-off with China in eastern Ladakh in April 2020, there has been build-up of forces by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and transgressions in other areas along the LAC. In August 2021, over 100 Chinese soldiers had transgressed four or five km into Indian territory at Barahoti in Uttarakhand and returned after few hours.

Chinese transgressions in the Middle sector is not new but the number of PLA troops coming in is increasing. The 3,488-km-long LAC is divided into the Western (Ladakh), Middle (Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand), and Eastern (Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh) sectors.

India procures high-end technology

The Indian Army has, in the last three years, signed a series of agreements for high technology equipment, which are currently in the process of being inducted in the forward areas, official sources said.

New autonomous vehicles will soon replace animal transport for transporting rations and utilities to soldiers in forward locations and snow scooters, laser dazzlers and new generation sniper rifles have also been inducted.

In another development, official sources said that the PLA has deployed an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) or helicopter drone in the Middle sector, which was spotted across the LAC.

In May 2020, Chinese state media had reported that China’s first UAV meant for high-altitude areas had made its maiden flight and could be deployed along the country’s borders with India. According to Global Times, the AR-500C unmanned plateau helicopter meant for surveillance can take off at an altitude of 5,000 metres, has a ceiling of 6,700 metres, an endurance of five hours and a maximum take-off weight of 500 kg.

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