On August 19, 2017, a video was posted online of an alleged scuffle that had taken place a few days earlier between Indian and Chinese soldiers on the banks of Pangong Tso lake. Pangong TsoPangong Tso lake

  • In the Ladakhi language, Pangong means extensive concavity, and Tso is a lake in Tibetan.
  • Pangong Tso is a long narrow, deep, endorheic (landlocked) lake
  • It is situated at a height of more than 14,000 ft in the Ladakh Himalayas.
  • The brackish water lake freezes over in winter and becomes ideal for ice skating and polo.
  • The lake is said to be in the process of being identified as a wetland with international significance under the Ramsar Convention and if everything goes as expected then the Pangong Lake will be the first in South Asia to be a trans-boundary wetland and that too under this convention.
Endorheic basin   ●        An endorheic basin is closed drainage that retains water and does not allow for overflow to other external bodies such as the rivers and oceans. ●        The endorheic basin may form either permanent or seasonal lakes or swamps that equilibrate only through evaporation. ●        The basin is also commonly referred to as an internal drainage system or a closed basin. ●        Under normal circumstances, the water that accumulates in the drainage basin flows out through rivers or streams or by underground diffusion through permeable rocks and finally ends up in the ocean. ●        But in case of the endorheic basin, water that flows into the basin cannot flow out and may only leave the drainage through evaporation or seep into the ground.  
Strategic significance
  • The LAC cuts through the lake, but India and China do not agree on its exact location.
  • 45 km-long western portion of the lake is in Indian control, while the rest is under China’s control.
  • Most of the clashes between the two armies occur in the disputed portion of the lake.
  • By itself, the lake does not have major tactical significance.
  • Its importance is due to the fact that it lies in the path of the Chushul approach, one of the main approaches that China can use for an offensive into Indian-held territory.
  • according to Indian assessments, if a Chinese offensive comes in the future, it will flow across both the north and south of the lake.
  • During the 1962 war, this was the location where China launched its main offensive.
  • The Indian Army fought heroically at Rezang La, the mountain pass on the southeastern approach to Chushul valley.
  • Over the years, the Chinese have built motorable roads along their banks of the Pangong Tso.
The dispute in the area
  • The difference in perception over where the LAC lies on the northern bank of the lake makes this contested terrain.
  • When the Army unit from the area was moved to Kargil for Operation Vijay in 1999, China took the opportunity to build 5 km of the road inside Indian territory along the lake’s bank.
  • The August 2017 scuffle took place in this area.
  • Pangong Tso can be reached in a five-hour drive from Leh, most of it on a rough and dramatic mountain road.
  • An Inner Line Permit is required to visit the lake as it lies on the Sino-Indian Line of Actual Control.
  • While Indian nationals can obtain individual permits, others must have group permits (with a minimum of three persons) accompanied by an accredited guide.
  • For security reasons, India does not permit boating. Read More Articles: Things To Do To Avoid Another Water Crisis Scientists Create A Global Map Where Groundwater Meets Oceans