India vs China: Satellite photos show China ‘changed course of river’ to gain upper hand
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The Himalayan region has recently been at the centre of a dispute between China and India. Last week some 20 Indian troops died after vicious clashes with Chinese soldiers which saw the two sides face off with clubs studded with nails. On Monday China finally admitted it had suffered casualties in the fight, saying “less than 20” troops had lost their lives.
According to analysis published in India Today, satellite images of the river appear to show that the river’s ecosystem has been altered to benefit the Chinese side.
Satellite images captured in 2010 show the Galwan Valley area as a narrow stretch with no road infrastructure.
Since then, China has discreetly started building roads using compressed earth.
The construction project is thought to have taken place in 2015-2016.
Satellite pictures taken around this time showed just one army hut and no troops in the area.
However, last month soldiers from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) marched into the area to carry out a military exercise.
Since then the Chinese have been amassing troops along the sides of the Galwan River.
The soldiers have come very close to the LAC (Line of Actual Control).
After realising the area offered little room for a large scale deployment, China took action to address the problem, analysis of the images suggest.
India Today claims the photos point to evidence of canalising, the art of converting a river into a navigable canal.
Retired Indian Army Colonel Vinayak Bhat studied the images and said a bulldozer could be seen in mid-June.
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He wrote: “The dozer observed in satellite images of June 16 is actually creating a channel on the northern bank of the river so that the requirement of two bridges is avoided.
“The images very clearly indicate the Chinese claiming the sides of the Galwan River, all along right up to 40 kms from the LAC, without paying any heed to the ecology of the area or the river.
“The earth required for this is dug out from mountain sides without considering long term geological effects of such acts.”
He added: “The Chinese engineers at work near the LAC are changing the course of the river and also reducing its width so that larger land mass can be claimed for deployment of troops and construction of permanent infrastructure in the future.”
Indian and Chinese military commanders met on Monday to try to ease tensions at their disputed Himalayan border as the public mood hardened in India for a military and economic riposte following the worst clash in more than five decades.
Major Indian traders called for a boycott of Chinese goods and the state of Maharashtra, home to India’s financial capital of Mumbai, put three initial investment proposals from Chinese companies worth 50 billion rupees (£528 million) on hold, just days after signing the agreements.
The meeting lasted several hours, with the Indian side pushing China to withdraw its troops back to where they were in April, an Indian Government source said.
China, in previous rounds of talks, had asked India to stop all construction work in what it says is Chinese territory.
Last week’s deadly clash marked a major escalation in a weeks-long standoff between the nuclear-armed Asian giants in the western Himalayas.
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