India Building Nuclear-Hardened Storage Facilities Along Forward Posts: Army Chief Engineer
India has shown exemplary work by transporting vast quantities of ammunition, equipment, fuel, and winter supplies to Ladakh for two consecutive winters at a rapid pace. However, it has also faced situations in the past few years that show the limitation of mechanised mobility at forward posts due to environmental risks in the Himalayas.
With modern equipment and new technologies, the Indian Army has started constructing micro-tunnels and other facilities to store ammunition at military posts very close to the border with China and Pakistan.
Lieutenant General Harpal Singh, the engineer-in-chief of the Army, has said that combat engineers have also expedited works to provide road connectivity to forward posts.
"Micro Tunneling is the flavour of the time, ensuring hardened defences and operational logistics Infrastructure; tunnels for ammunition storage for Army and Air Force are being taken up in a major way; nuclear hardened facilities are being developed in forwarded areas to enhance the capabilities of boots on the ground", Singh said at an event in New Delhi.
He also said that the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), a combat engineering arm of the 1.3 million strong army, is at the help of strategic road construction along the borders and in neighbouring countries as part of India's strategic outreach.
"The dual-use BRO Infrastructure of roads, tunnels and bridges is a force multiplier not only for our strategic needs but also towards development of communities along with pristine remote border locations", the chief engineer said.
On 10 December, Ajay Bhatt, minister of state for defence, said that the BRO has been working on 257 road projects, including 140 along the Indo-China border and 98 along the frontier with Pakistan.
Nuclear-hardened facilities are expected to provide massive support to the Army, as exposed ammunition depots and supply points have been a bane in Ladakh and other friction points.
Due to the rugged slopes and terrain in the Himalayas, it takes days to move ammunition and weapons to forward posts.
Since snow blocks the mountain passes into Ladakh every winter for at least four months, the Indian Army moves thousands of tonnes of material to forward posts using the Indian Air Force's large transport aircraft and helicopters.
However, hostile weather conditions restrict the employment of helicopters and aircraft in border areas.
In recent years, the Indian government has almost doubled the budget for vital roads and bridges along the loosely demarcated border with China in response to Beijing's rapid infrastructure development on the Tibet side.
In May 2020, a border stand-off resulted from infrastructural development works in the Ladakh region. It later translated into a violent clash in June 2020, leaving 20 Indian soldiers and four Chinese troops killed during the encounter.
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