A satellite image accessed by NDTV indicates that China has stepped up its road construction activity in the Doklam plateau to ensure that all-weather access is maintained into the region where India and China were involved in a stand-off in 2017.
The August 2019 image here is of an over-ground “tunnel” that shelters part of the key northern access route through the high-altitude Merug La pass. A satellite image from October, seen by this correspondent indicates that Chinese construction workers have extended the length of the “tunnel” on this stretch to 500 metres.
Army experts NDTV has spoken to, have indicated that the goal is clear — to ensure that road access into the Doklam Plateau is unrestricted through the winter months. The Doklam plateau is entirely snowed under during the winter months making access a challenge.
China’s intention to keep up access into the disputed territory comes at a time India and China are in the middle of a stand-off in eastern Ladakh, where Chinese soldiers have made incursions at several stretches across the contested Line of Actual Control between both countries.
Despite eight rounds of military talks, there has been no comprehensive disengagement plan which New Delhi and Beijing have agreed to and the unprecedented military stand-off appears set to continue through the winter months.
It is equally clear that China has surfaced and expanded its roadmap in the Doklam plateau which lies between Sikkim and Bhutan. What was mostly an all-weather track during the stand-off of 2017 has now been converted into a fully tarred road. India has also stepped up its road construction activity in the region ensuring that its forces in the region can quickly be reinforced.