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Amid tensions, army prepares for long winter in Ladakh

By Prashant Rangnekar
Last updated on: September 15, 2020 21:38 IST
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From heating appliances and climate appropriate clothing to rations, fuel and tents that protect from the biting cold, all necessary supplies have reached the forward areas for the Indian Army to gear up for the long, freezing winter in Ladakh region, officials asserted amid the tensions on the Line of Actual Control.

IMAGE: An Indian Air Force's Chinook helicopter carries supplies from a forward airbase in Leh, in the Ladakh region. Photograph: Danish Siddiiqui/Reuters

The Ladakh region witnesses sub-zero temperatures and is mostly cut off from the rest of the country for months during the winters. As tensions between the armies of India and China at the LAC show no sign of ebbing, both sides have significantly ramped up the presence of their troops.

Accordingly, India's Army has been beefing up its stocks of food, ammunition, fuel and more importantly the winter gear.

 

Major General Arvind Kapoor, Chief of Staff of the Fire and Fury Corps --- also known as the XIV Corps which has the mandate of securing the frontiers along the China and Pakistan borders from Kargil to Ladakh --- said the unit takes pride in its advance winter stocking.

"Our stocking levels, be it rations, fuel, oils and lubricants, tentage and heating appliances which includes bukhari (heaters) or kero-heaters, or be it ammunition, are in good numbers," Kapoor told reporters.

IMAGE: Military tankers carrying fuel move towards forward areas in the Ladakh region. Photograph: Danish Siddiiqui/Reuters

"Wherever these things need to be supplied, they have already been supplied. We are confident that the system has become so well-oiled that in the coming days, it will give an excellent result," he said.

Kapoor said the entire Ladakh region has been connected to two main highways -- the Manali-Leh axis and the Jammu-Srinagar-Leh axis.

"These axes are shut for nearly six months. But in the last few months, we have brought this down to 120 days. In the coming days, the Atal Tunnel will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Darcha-Nimu-Padam link is also ready and in the immediate future, the Ladakh region will get round-the-year connectivity," he said.

IMAGE: Indian soldiers disembark from a military transport plane at a forward airbase in Leh, in the Ladakh region. Photograph: Danish Siddiiqui/Reuters

Fuel also plays a critical role for the armed forces, especially in the Ladakh region where it is used by soldiers in forward areas to keep themselves warm in low temperatures.

The corps also operates one of the highest altitude fuel, oil and lubricants depot.

"We supply fuel both for our vehicles as also for our men, for the bukharis to keep them warm in the bitterly cold weather on the frontline," said Brigadier Rakesh Manocha, in-charge of the logistics.

IMAGE: Soldiers prepare to load an Indian Air Force's Chinook helicopter with supplies at a forward airbase in Leh. Photograph: Danish Siddiiqui/Reuters

On tentage, officials said the indigenously developed Arctic tents can sustain temperatures up to minus 20 degree, while the high-altitude tents have the capacity to sustain temperatures anywhere between minus 40 to minus 50 degree.

"Both tentages and adequate winter clothing have also been supplied to the forward areas," an official said.

IMAGE: An Indian fighter plane flies over a mountain range in Leh, in the Ladakh region. Photograph: Danish Siddiiqui/Reuters

The ration too has been stocked adequately, ranging from pre-cooked, packaged and canned items to food grains, they added.

Brigadier A S Rathore said, "We hold complete requirements of supplies for all troops which are deployed in the Ladakh sector. All warehouses are completely full to the brim."

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