India continues ban on construction in Demchok, Ladakh

The defence ministry has refused to divulge the reason for imposing a ban on construction in the Demchok area of southeastern Ladakh — part of the land disputed between India and China.

However, the Chinese are building infrastructure on the other side of the line of control, including military facilities, according to local residents. Residents, including members of the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, have been asking the government to lift the ban.

BJP leader Balbir Punj asked the defence ministry why India was not allowing any construction on its side, while China is “speedily ramping up military infrastructure” on its side of the disputed land.

However, defence minister AK Antony said the reason for the ban on construction cannot be discussed in public.

“The information sought is on matter of defence preparedness to safeguard our territory and measures taken to ensure the same which are sensitive and secret in nature and disclosure of the above details on the floor of the House would not be in the national interest of our country,” he said in reply to the question by Punj, a member of the Rajya Sabha.

In late 2009, China had lodged a protest with the Indian authorities at the construction of a road on the Indian side.

Antony said that there is no cause for worry about countering China’s infrastructure build-up. “Required measures have been initiated through development of infrastructure, including rail, roads and forward air fields as well as operational capabilities,” he said.