Recent conflict has brought DSDBO road into limelight like never before. The road stretches 255-km along Darbuk-Shyok-Daulat Beg oldie which is all weather road and of immense strategic importance, while a potential consequential of the conflict.
Location of the road
The road connects Daulat beg to Darbuk going through Shyok along the Shyok river. This further connects the DSDBO to Leh and Thoise. The road has a transverse layout at an altitude of 14,000 feet connecting to Shyok which is the last Indian village in the region. The road links BDO and which is a plateau over an Altitude of 16,000 feet and is used as Indian Air Force supply drop off point in 1962 war. Further this road joins Leh to Karakoram Pass. A road also branches out to Galwan valley to east and Pangong Tsa to the south from Shyok. These regions are nearest to the LAC. The road crosses other small villages like Qizil, Gongma, Murgo, Mundro and Chummed till Shyok and these settlements are along Shyok river.
History of DSDBO road
The DSDBO road project was started in the year 2000 and was expected to be completed by the year 2012 with an estimated cost of Rs. 320 crore. The construction was monitored by PMO. But the construction couldn’t be completed in the expected time frame as the road was aligned with the Shyok River, which flooded it during summers causing damage. However, the major portions of the roads were later realigned to protect it from destruction.
Thus, to counter this, a 43m Colonel Chewang Rinchen Setu was built over Shyok river connecting Durbuk to DBO in Eastern Ladakh and was inaugurated by the Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, in October 2019.
The Colonel Chewang Rinchen Setu and the Siachin Glacier were made open by the Government of India for the tourists.
The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) is currently constructing a glaciated road between Sasoma (near the Nubra river) to the Sasser Pass. The road will be of strategic importance to the Indian Military and will take several years to complete.
Strategic Importance of the road
The DSDBO’s emergence has resulted in Chinese getting increasingly worried, which was evident by PLA troops intruding into India in 2013 at Depsang Plains, lasting nearly three weeks.
For years, the Indian troops have been patrolling near these areas. However, with all-weather road connectivity will provide a huge advantage to Indian troops. Meanwhile, China has objected to the construction of the road and does not want India to continue the construction of the DSDBO, which has now led to the ongoing confrontations.
Most importantly, from the DSDBO road, a road is being built towards Galwan Valley, a hill feature. The branch road, which is critical for India to overlook the LAC has prompted the Chinese to object and start the current stand-off in Galwan Valley.
For years, the Indian troops have been patrolling near these areas. However, with all-weather road connectivity will provide a huge advantage to Indian troops.
The under-construction DSDBO highway gives a strategic advantage to the Indian military as it provides direct access to the section of the Tibet-Xinjiang highway that passes through Aksai Chin. The road runs almost parallel to the LAC at Aksai Chin, which is part of Union Territory of Ladakh, which was later occupied by China in the 1950s, leading to the 1962 war in which India.
Additionally, the Pakistan-occupied area of Gilgit Baltistan, which is west of DBO is the region, can also be overseen once the strategic DSDBO road is completed. The Gilgit Baltistan is also the region where China is funding the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (PoK), to which India has expressed strong objection.
The Indian Army maintains helipads and a gravel airstrip here, the highest airstrip in the world. The outpost is strategically important as it helps Indian Armed Forces to keep a check on Chinese troops that patrols along the Line of Actual Control.