NEW DELHI: The Army has finally begun to get initial deliveries of specialized boats for deployment at Pangong Tso, which comes amidst the continuing military confrontation with China in eastern Ladakh.
The Army had inked two contracts for the specialized boats six-seven months ago. The first Rs 65 crore one was for 12 fast patrol boats, with advanced surveillance gear and other equipment, from defence PSU Goa Shipyard.
The second deal was for 17 troop-carrying, flat-bottom fibreglass boats from a private shipyard at Goa, which also supplies such vessels to the Navy. “These boats can swiftly transport around 20 soldiers from one location to another. The initial deliveries have begun,” said a source on Saturday.
The Indian and Chinese armies in February undertook successful troop disengagement from both sides of the Pangong Tso, the 134-km long lake, two-thirds of which is controlled by China as it extends from Tibet to India.
China, however, till now has refused to complete the stalled disengagement process at the remaining face-off sites in Hot Springs, Gogra and Demchok. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) also continues to block Indian patrols from going to their traditional Patrolling Points-10, 11, 11A, 12, and 13 in the strategically-located Depsang Plains area.
The Army had seven-eight years ago inducted 17 QRT (quick-reaction team) boats for patrolling the Pangong Tso, which is located at an altitude of 13,900-feet.
But after the stand-off erupted with China in eastern Ladakh in April-May last year, the urgent need was felt to further augment its capabilities to match the heavier Type-928B patrol boats being used by PLA there, as was reported by TOI earlier.
Both Indian and Chinese soldiers actively patrol their areas of Pangong Tso on foot as well as on boats during the summer months. Before the Army got the QRT boats, it used to be quite hamstrung by its then outdated slow-moving boats. The PLA often used to even disable the Indian boats by ramming into them with its heavier boats.