Explained: What is the importance of Ladakh’s Pangong Tso Lake

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News: Indian Army thwarted an attempt by China to change the status quo near the Line of Actual Control(LAC) by deploying its troops to a previously un-deployed area on the southern bank of the Pangong Tso Lake.

Facts:

  • Pangong Tso Lake: It is an endorheic lake (landlocked) that is partly in India’s Ladakh region and partly in Tibet.The lake is formed from Tethys geosyncline.
  • The lake literally translates into a “conclave lake”. Pangong means conclave in Ladakhi and Tso means a lake in Tibetan language.
  • The Karakoram Mountain range which crosses Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and India ends at the north bank of Pangong Tso.
  • The lake’s water is crystal clear, brackish making it undrinkable.The lake freezes during the winter allowing some vehicular movement on it as well.
  • Who controls Pangong Tso? Nearly two-thirds of the lake is controlled by China with just about 45 km under Indian control.The Line of Actual Control(LAC) running north-south cuts the western part of the lake, aligned east-west.
  • Importance of the lake: The importance of the lake 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.

Additional Facts:

  • Endorheic Lake: It is a collection of water within an endorheic basin or sink, with no evident outlet.The Endorheic lakes are generally saline as a result of being unable to get rid of solutes left in the lake by evaporation.