China is tinkering not only with the strategic Galwan River, where it has tried to make incursion leading to bloodbath, but is also eyeing other high altitude glacial lakes and other water-bodies on the Himalayas.
China has right from 1962 been trying to capture the important water-bodies near Ladakh on the Indian territory. It has virtually taken control of the Indus River in Gilgit-Baltistan that is under illegal control of Pakistan. The Indus flows through Ladakh to Gilgit-Baltistan in the Pakistan occupied Jammu and Kashmir (PoJK).
In the ongoing standoff with India, China vainly tried to take control also over the Pangong Lake and has reportedly tried to divert the flow of the Galwan that is one of the upstream tributaries of the Indus. The fast flowing Galwan meets the Shyok River at a distance of about 80 kms near Leh.
The Galwan River flows to Ladakh from the Aksai Chin, a part of J&K under the illegal control of China. It originates from Samzungling on the eastern side of the Karakoram range and flows West to join the Shyok.
Skirmishes and incidents of stone-pelting between troops of India and China have repeatedly taken place in the recent past on the dispute over the Pangong Lake that has become a tourist destination on the Indian side.
What is a unique aspect is that the Line of Actual Control (LAC) between India and China mostly passes on the mountainous land, but in the case of Pangong it cuts through its waters. However, the dispute is over the exact location of the LAC on the river. The 135 kms long lake sprawls over 604 sq. Kms, but a 45 kms long western portion of the lake is under the control of India. China has built a motorable road on its side of the lake.
In a bid to take control of the Indus River in Gilgit-Baltistan, China has made the Pakistan Army agree on jointly building the world’s highest concrete Diamer—Bhasha dam. The project will cost Rs.442 billion.
Protests have already begun in Gilgit on construction of the dam that would submerge several villages. Moreover, residents of the area were worried on the issue of change of demography of the strategic place.
Strategic observers in Ladakh have expressed apprehensions that China might also on some stage try to lay claim over the Tso-Moriri that is also a glacial lake in the Changthang region 240 kms south-east of Leh.