India has completed the first road connectivity to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China in Uttarakhand to ensure smooth ride of pilgrims to Kailash Mansarovar, the Ministry of Defence said on Friday.
The Border Road Organisation (BRO) completed the 80 km stretch connecting Ghatiabgarh and Lipulekh on April 17. After the trials were successful, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh opened the road by video conferencing on Friday.
"Delighted to inaugurate the Link Road to Mansarovar Yatra today. The BRO achieved road connectivity from Dharchula to Lipulekh (China Border) known as Kailash-Mansarovar Yatra Route. Also flagged off a convoy of vehicles from Pithoragarh to Gunji through video conferencing," Rajnath Singh tweeted.
He also said that the BRO team has done "tremendous work in the recent years and played a significant role in connecting the border areas". The road will also help in troops movement to the LAC.
The road ends at the 17,000 feet high Lipulekh pass. From there, Mount Kailash is located around 97 km north of the pass in Tibet. The Lipulekh pass, close to the Tri-junction of India-China-Nepal, is the lowest point in this section of the high Himalayas.
A senior Defence Ministry official said that with the construction of the road, pilgrims can travel to Lipulekh from Delhi in two days. The distance from Delhi to Lipulekh is 750 km.
Interestingly, the major travel would be in India -- 84 per cent -- and only 16 per cent in China.
The 80 km Ghatiabgarh-Lipulekh section has been made under the directions of the China Study Group (CSG) and it is funded by the Indo-China Border Road (ICBR).
The road was approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) in 2005 at a cost of Rs 80.76 crore. In 2018, the CCS approved a revised cost of Rs 439.40 crore.
This route will reduce the usual travel time for the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra by some six days.
The other route for the yatra via Sikkim is 2,780 km. It involves taking a flight to Bagdogra (1,115 km from Delhi), thereafter 1,665 km of road travel, including 1,490 in China.
Another existing route is via Nepal. It involves taking a flight to Kathmandu in Nepal, 1,150 km from Delhi, and thereafter a combination of two flights with road travel (1,940 km total) or two flights and one helicopter sortie (755 km) or total road travel from Nepal (840 km). The distance excludes 43 km on foot in China.
The new route via Uttrakhand will reduce a lot of time for the pilgrims. It would be the shortest and cheapest route and also one fifth distance of road travel as compared to the other routes.