New Delhi: The Indian Army has completed building ‘extreme weather habitats’, including tents with heating, for thousands of additional troops deployed in Ladakh to gear up for the harsh winter season, even as India and China’s proposed disengagement and de-escalation talks to end the border stand-off remain at a standstill.
“In order to ensure operational efficiency of troops deployed in winters, the Indian Army has completed establishment of habitat facilities for all troops deployed in the sector,” a government source told The Hindu.
The smart camps come with integrated arrangements for electricity, water, heating facilities, health and hygiene, The Hindu‘s report says, citing an army source. The construction was completed by mid-October. For future requirements, the report said, “adequate civil infrastructure had also been identified”.
Apart from the heated tents, the army recently procured 15,000 ‘extreme weather clothing’ from the US for the additional troops deployed in the region. The order was placed in early July with the US under the bilateral logistics pact, Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Understanding, and the delivery has now been completed, the report added.
With an altitude of 14,000-18,000 feet, the area where troops are deployed experiences heavy snowfall from December onwards. Temperatures dip down to minus 30-40 degrees, due to which road access is disrupted to the areas for sometime.
The army stocked up rations and supplies in advance during the summer months to gear up for the winters. However, the India-China border dispute led to additional troop deployment in Ladakh, and prompted a need to significantly ramp up the stocks for them.
Nearly 50,000 troops of the Indian Army are currently deployed in a high state of combat readiness in various mountainous locations in eastern Ladakh in sub-zero conditions as multiple rounds of talks between India and China have not yielded any concrete outcome to resolve the military standoff that erupted in early May. China has also deployed an equal number of troops, according to government officials.
According to the Indian Express, four commands of the Indian Army — northern, western, eastern and central commands — are authorised to have Extreme Climate Clothing and Equipment, which is largely rewuired for “high and very high altitude (8,000-18,000 feet)” and Special Clothing and Mountaineering Equipment needed for “super high altitude (above 18,000 feet)”.
At the last round of military talks between the Indian Army and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the latter proposed that troops from both the sides should return to their “original locations on the south bank of lake Pangong Tso”.
According to reports, the PLA also indicated that it was ready to move its troops back to Finger 8 and proposed moving back tanks and artillery to the depth areas on either side. This, the PLA said, would help avoid any “untoward incidents” as tensions are high and troops are battling a harsh winter.
(With inputs from PTI)
This article was edited to remove an erroneous claim on the amount of snowfall in the area.