China opened its second railway line in Tibet, constructed at a cost of $ 2.16 billion, close to Indian border in Sikkim. The rail link will make efficient mobility of its military in the remote and strategic Himalayan region.
The railway line stretched over 253 km connects Tibet’s provincial capital Lhasa with Xigaze, the second-largest city in Tibet and also the traditional seat of the pro-Beijing Panchen Lama – considered second important Monk in Tibetan hierarchy.
The rail link close to the Indian border in Sikkim is also near China’s border with Nepal and Bhutan. It cuts the travel time between Lhasa and Xigaze from the current 4 hours by road to around 2 hours. The line is the second railway line in Tibet and an extension of the Qinghai-Tibet railway, the world’s highest rail link connecting China’s mainland with Tibet.
China’s other Rail Links close to India
- China launched the railway to Lhasa which passes icy mountains on the Tibetan highlands, reaching altitudes as high as 5,000 m (16,400 ft) above sea level.
- China plans to build a new important railway line in Tibet close to Arunachal Pradesh, which Chinese analysts say could act as a “bargaining chip” during the border negotiations with India.
- China is also expected to start the construction of another railway line linking Lhasa to Nyingchi in the east. Nyingchi is located near Arunachal Pradesh, the closest area to the border. The railway expansion will link Nepal, Bhutan and India by 2020.
- China will construct a railway linking Xigaze with Gyirong County near Nepal under its five year plan ending 2020. Gyirong county has a checkpoint connecting Nepal and Yatung county, close to Indian border near Sikkim and Bhutan, a trade centre bordering India and Bhutan.
In a sharp contrast to the 100,000 tigers that once lived in the wild a century ago, the number now has reduced to just 3,200. This was revealed by a latest report released by the World Wide Fund (WWF).
WWF has also expressed their willingness to assist the conservation efforts being made by the 13 tiger-range countries – India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand, and Vietnam – which in 2010 set the target of doubling of wild tiger population by 2022.
The report which coincided with the International Tiger Day on July 29 warns that the largest of all the Asian big cats could go extinct in the wild mainly due to poaching and habitat destruction.
WWF considers ‘poaching’ as the biggest threat to wild tigers since their parts are used for traditional medicine, folk remedies, and increasingly as a status symbol among some Asian cultures.
On his first foreign visit after becoming PM, Narendra Modi who is on a two-day Bhutan visit promised to foster bilateral ties which he described as “B2B —Bharat to Bhutan” as he held talks with the Bhutanese King and countries Prime Minister, discussing an entire range of relationship between the two nations.
He announced doubling of scholarships granted to Bhutanese students in India which will now be worth Rs 2 crore. Modi also assured to help Bhutan in establishing a digital library, which will provide access to Bhutanese youth to two million books and periodicals.
Prime Minister’s visit to Bhutan holds significance since China has lately scaled up efforts to persuade it and set up full-fledged diplomatic relationship with Bhutan.