Even as China is quickly building infrastructure on its side across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh, the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has flagged serious concerns about procedural delays hampering its projects in the UT.

Sources in the Ministry of Defence confirmed that the BRO had recently intimated the ministry about difficulties being faced by it. These pertain to delay in taking clearances under environment and wildlife laws.

The MoD had taken up the matter with all stakeholders to resolve the issue keeping in view the projects of national importance, the sources said. An official pointed out that in November 2014, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, accorded a general approval under

Section 2 of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, to expedite the forest clearances for taking up border infrastructure works. This mandated that no prior clearance was needed from the environment impact assessment committee for raising infrastructure within 100 km of aerial distance from the LAC. The dispensation was to start work and then seek exemptions and clearances. The order also permitted diversion of land for strategic road building.

Notably, this exemption does not apply for wildlife protection issues under the Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972. Each project needs an independent bio-diversity impact assessment by a committee of experts, which submits a report to the National Board of Wildlife.

The Ladakh plateau had seen major battles in the 1962 war. Some 9,000 sq km (15.22 per cent) area in Ladakh is under wildlife sanctuaries. Some of these include mountain ridges which are strategically vital and provide a deep view across the LAC in Tibet.

A proposal to remove the blanket ban on building infrastructure was first proposed in 2012, but non-official members of the National Board for Wildlife protested. Earlier in October 2011, an independent survey of the animal population was completed.

Meanwhile, China, on similar terrain and ecology on the Tibetan side, has gone ahead to provide all-weather connectivity.