Pangong Tso Lake

Pangong Tso Lake

This article covers “Daily Current Affairs” and the topic details “Pangong Tso Lake”. The topic “Pangong Tso Lake” has relevance in the International Relations section of the UPSC CSE exam.

For Prelims:

About Pangong Tso Lake?

For Mains:

GS 2 : International Relations

India’s Infrastructure Projects?

China’s Infrastructure Efforts?

Way Forward?

Why in the news?

Three years after the violent clash between Indian and Chinese forces in Galwan followed by tanks facing each other around the Pangong Tso — a lake spanning eastern Ladakh and western Tibet — there is hectic activity in the area from both sides. While China is rushing to complete a bridge across the Pangong Tso, connecting the north and south banks, India is also building a black-topped road on its side on the north bank.

Pangong Tso Lake:

  • Pangong Tso is a landlocked lake, approximately 135 km long, located at an altitude of over 14,000 feet (4350 m) above sea level.
  • The lake is a glacial melt with mountain spurs of the Chang Chenmo range jutting down into it, forming fingers.
  • It is one of the highest altitude lakes in the world filled with saline water.
  • The lake freezes completely despite being saline.
  • The brackish water of the lake has very low micro-vegetation and no aquatic life except for crustaceans during winters.
  • Pangong Tso is known for its changing colors, ranging from shades of blue to green to red.


The Fingers of Pangong Tso:

  • The Pangong Tso lake has a unique shape resembling a boomerang and is approximately 135 kilometers long.
  • The lake is characterized by mountain spurs that into the water, known as “fingers.”
  • The fingers of Pangong Tso are numbered from 1 to 8, with Finger 1 being the closest to the eastern end of the lake and Finger 8 the farthest.


India and China’s Share:

  • India and China each control a portion of Pangong Tso.
  • India has around 45 km of the lake under its control, while China holds the remaining two-thirds.
  • The eastern end of Pangong Tso lies in Tibet.


Border Dispute at Pangong Tso:

  • India claims control over the lake until Finger 4 but believes its territory extends up to Finger 8.
  • The north bank, where the fingers are located, has been the center of clashes and tensions between India and China.
  • Indian troops are stationed near Finger 3, while the Chinese have a base east of Finger 8, claiming territory up to Finger 2.


India’s Infrastructure Projects:

  • A black-topped road is being constructed on the north bank of Pangong Tso, leading towards Finger 4.
  • The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) is close to completing infrastructure projects, including the Sela, Nechipu, and Sela-Chhabrela tunnels..
  • Advancing construction work on an alternate axis to the critical Darbuk-Skyok-Daulat Beg Oldie road through the Saser La.
  • Implementation of the India-China Border Roads (ICBR) initiative, with three phases: ICBR-I, ICBR-II, and ICBR-III.
  • Increased capital budget of the BRO by 43% to Rs 5,000 crore in 2023-24.
  • Construction of roads under ICBR-III, with 70% focused on Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Prominent Sela Tunnel Road project, connecting Arunachal Pradesh via a network of roads.
  • Implementation of the Vibrant Villages Programme to improve infrastructure in border villages and enhance the quality of life.


China’s Infrastructure Efforts:

  • Construction of a bridge across the Pangong Tso, connecting the north and south banks.
  • Large-scale construction activity, including road connectivity towards Shandong village.
  • Construction of a 22 km-long tunnel along the G-0177 expressway, connecting to the vital G-216 highway in Tibet.


Way Forward

  • Diplomatic Engagement: Maintain open lines of communication and engage in diplomatic dialogues to address border disputes and ensure peaceful resolutions.
  • Confidence-Building Measures: Implement confidence-building measures between India and China to reduce tensions and build trust, such as regular military-to-military dialogues, joint exercises, and information sharing.
  • Border Infrastructure Development: Continue investing in border infrastructure development to enhance connectivity, security, and economic opportunities in the border regions, while keeping in mind the need for environmental sustainability.
  • Bilateral Agreements: Work towards strengthening bilateral agreements and frameworks that promote peace, stability, and cooperation along the border, including border management and confidence-building measures.


Q.1 Which lake has a unique shape with mountain spurs protruding into the water, known as “fingers”?

(a) Dal Lake

(b) Chilika Lake

(c) Pangong Tso

(d) Vembanad Lake

Answer: (c) 

Which of the following statements is/are correct?

  1. India and China have differing perceptions of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) around Pangong Tso.
  2. The Indian government has implemented the Vibrant Villages Programme to improve infrastructure in border villages.
  3. The Pangong Tso lake is characterized by mountain spurs called “fingers.”
  4. The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) is primarily responsible for infrastructure projects in China’s border regions.


(a) 1 and 2 only 

(b) 3 and 4 only 

(c) 2 and 4 only

(d) All of the above 

Answer: (d)

Q.1 Discuss the significance and challenges of infrastructure developments in the border regions of India, with a focus on their implications for border disputes and regional stability.

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