Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday inaugurated 44 bridges including two crucial bridges on the strategic 475-km Manali-Leh highway to facilitate the movement of armed forces and logistics in forward areas of Union Territory of Ladakh. Also Read - US Presidential Debate: "Look at China, Russia, India... Air is Filthy", Trump Justifies Stand on Climate Change
Speaking at the virtual inaugural event, Singh highlighted the ongoing border tensions with Pakistan and China and asserted that the 44 bridges will enable the Indian Armed Forces to quickly move their troops and weapons in a crisis situation. Also Read - Chinese President Xi Jinping Replaces 'Asur' in Bengal's Durga Idol; Picture Goes Viral
“You are well aware of the situation created along our northern and eastern borders. First Pakistan, and now also by China, as if a border dispute is being created under a mission. We have a border of about 7,000 km with these countries, where the tension remains,” he said. Also Read - Twitter Shows Leh as Part of China, India Warns CEO Dorsey Against Misrepresentation of Map
The 44 major bridges dedicated to the nation were virtually constructed by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) in record time in seven border states and Union Territories in western, northern and north-eastern India.
The 297-km-long Darcha-Nimmu-Padum road that holds the second-longest bridge across the Bhaga river has been identified as the third strategic alternative to Ladakh in wake of the threat from Pakistan and China. The double-laned road is under construction and likely to be completed by 2023, officials said.
Besides improving the flow of traffic, the new bridge would prove helpful increasing load-carrying ability.
From Darcha, one road bifurcates towards Shinku La (pass), the shortest route that traverses to the remote Zanskar region towards Padum, some 30 km from Leh, and another towards the windy Manali-Leh highway.
Singh also symbolically laid the foundation of the important Nechiphu tunnel in Arunachal Pradesh. Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur joined the event virtually to inaugurate them from his official residence.
The opening of the bridges comes at a time when India and China have been locked in a six-month-long border standoff.
Notably, the two countries held the seventh round of high-level military talks earlier today with a sole agenda of finalising a roadmap for disengagement of troops from all the friction points in eastern Ladakh. While military talks are still underway, an early resolution to the row appears dim.