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China building helipads, sentry posts in Doklam area: Nirmala Sitharaman

Indian and Chinese troops have "redeployed" themselves away from the face-off site in Doklam, and China has undertaken construction of helipads, sentry posts and trenches for its army personnel there, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said today. "Post disengagement from the face-off in 2017, troops of both sides have redeployed themselves away from their respective positions at the face-off site. The strength of both sides have been reduced," she said replying to a question on the issue in Lok Sabha. "In order to maintain these troops during the winter, People's Liberation Army (PLA) has undertaken construction of some infrastructure, including sentry posts, trenches and helipads," she said. Last week, junior Defence Minister Subhash Bhamre had said that the situation along India's border with China is "sensitive" and it has the potential to escalate. Sitharaman's reply today came in response to a question on whether satellite images have revealed that China has constructed seven helipads in Doklam besides deploying tanks and missiles in the area. On whether India has taken up the matter with China, she said issues relating to the border are regularly taken up with the Chinese side through diplomatic channels and at Border Personnel Meetings, flag meetings and meetings of Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs. Troops of India and China were locked in a 73-day-long standoff in Doklam from June 16 last year after the Indian side stopped the building of a road in the disputed area by the Chinese Army. The faceoff ended on August 28.

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