Siachen Glacier Current Affairs - 2019

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India’s highest bridge inaugurated

Raksha Mantri Rajnath Singh inaugurated the highest bridge in India. The bridge was named after the “Lion of Ladakh” Col Chewang Rinchen. It stands at 14,650 feet across the Shyok river.

Features of the bridge

  • It is located at 45km from India’s border from China.
  • It connects Leh’s Darbuk with Daulat Beg Oldi. The bridge is said to reduce the travel time by half-an-hour.
  • The bridge is an all-weather permanent bridge. Some bridges in the Ladakh, Siachen regions become inaccessible in winter.
  • It is located in the Sub-Sector North
  • The super structure of the bridge is called “Extra Wide Bailey Bridge”.
  • The bridge has been built in a span of 15 months.
  • Micro piling technique has been used in the construction of the bridge. The technique is used in India for the first time.
    • Micro piling is a technique used to transfer the load to the ground. Micro piles are small diameter piles constructed by drilling process and are keyed into rock.
  • The bridge is 4.5-metre-wide and is designed to support 70 tons class vehicles. Thus, it is expected to facilitate the movement of Indian battle tanks like T-90 that weigh 48 tons and are 3.5 metre wide.

Colonel Chewang Rinchen

The Lion of Ladakh is a recipient of Maha Vir Chakra twice. In 1948, the Pakistan tribal raiders had captured Kargil and set their eyes in Leh. The region was defended by Lt Col Prithi Singh with just 33 men under him. When he raised the tricolor flag and sought for help, Rinchen was the first person to respond at the age of 17 years. He then recruited 28 of his friends forming the “Ladakh Scounts” and won eventually. For his bravery, he was awarded the Maha Vir Chakra in 1952

He was awarded with Maha Vir Chakra again in 1971 for his heroic act in freeing nine enemy points located in Ladakh’s Partapur sector.

Shyok River

  • The River originates from Rimo Glacier, Karakoram Range and is called the “The River of Death”
  • It is a tributary of River Indus
  • It is also known as Sindhu
  • It is a transboundary river flowing through China (Tibet), India and Pakistan. Originating in China, the river joins the Indus river in PoK.
  • Chang Chen Mo River, Galwan River, Nubra River and Saltoro River are the tributaries of Shyok river.
  • The river holds several Quatenary period (2.58 million years ago) depositions that help Geologists to learn more about evolution of the earth.

Siachen: World’s highest battlefield, now open to tourists

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh announced that the Siachen Glacier, the world’s highest battlefield, is now open for tourists and Tourism. He made the announcement on Siachen while inaugurating newly constructed ‘Colonel Chewang Rinchen Bridge’ over Shyok River in Eastern Ladakh.

Key Highlights

The government gave its nod to the proposal moved by Indian Army for opening up Siachen to tourists with a focus to showcase working conditions of troops serving in sector.

The entire area from Siachen Base Camp to Kumar Post that lies above 15,000 feet has been opened for tourism purposes. Siachen Base Camp– at Partapur is at an altitude of 12,000 feet and temperatures there can dip as low as -60 degrees during winter. Highest post in Siachen is Bana Post (at 23,000 feet).

Other than an annual civilian expedition, this is the first time that area has been opened by Indian army for tourists. Indian army, which is deployed in glacier, will be examining who all will be coming to area.

The step has been taken by government to boost tourism in Ladakh as well as to give people a window to appreciate the tough work done by Indian Army jawans and engineers posted in the extreme weather and inhospitable terrains.

About Siachen Glacier

The glacier is at the height of around 20,000 feet in Karakoram range. It is known as the highest militarised zone in world. It has been a bone of contention between India and Pakistan for long and Indian Army gained strategic control of glacier in 1984 following ‘Operation Meghdoot‘.