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China halts Ladakh canal

Srinagar, Aug. 19: The Chinese army has forced the Jammu and Kashmir government to stop work on an irrigation canal in Ladakh, triggering resentment in the area.

The incident took place recently near Kuyul village in the Thukstey area of Nyoma subdivision. India and China share a disputed border in Ladakh.

“Chinese soldiers came to the banks of the Indus which serves as the Line of Actual Control in the area. They did not cross it but asked our men to stop the work immediately,” an official said.

Officials said transgressions by the Chinese army were routine. “The work was stopped. There is a lot of resentment because of this,” Leh chief executive councillor Rigzin Spalbar said.

An official said the canal, which would have been 3.5km long after completion, would have taken water to Dimchok village near the border. “The work was sanctioned in 2005-06 and half of it is done,” he said.

Most people in the area live by rearing cattle; the water was meant for their pastures.

In 2009, the Chinese army had forced the state to stop work on a road in the same area. A year later, the Chinese forced suspension of work on a few passenger sheds in the area.

The development came as army chief General Bikram Singh concluded his three-day tour of Ladakh today. Sources said the general was briefed about the repeated Chinese incursions in the region.