How Indian Army soldiers survive in Harsh Conditions at Siachen Glacier

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Siachen Glacier, the most inhospitable war zone in the world, has taken lives of 10 more soldiers in an avalanche.

The glacier is located in the eastern Karakoram range in the Himalayas, just northeast of the point NJ9842 where the Line of Control between India and Pakistan ends. The entire Siachen Glacier is currently under the administration of India since 1984, including all major passes.

Take a look into the uninhabitable living environment of Siachen, the dispute that has been going on for three decades and all that a soldier lives by, daily.

Weather of Siachen-

The glacier’s melting waters are the main source of the Nubra River in the Indian region of Ladakh. The study of satellite images of the glacier showed that the glacier is retreating at a rate of about 110 meters a year and that the glacier size has decreased by almost 35 percent. Siachen can have its temperature as low as -50 degrees during winters whereas the average snowfall is more than 1,000 cm.

Expenditure on Siachen-

The country supplies all necessities to Siachen at the cost estimated to be around $1 million (6.8 crore) a day, which makes it Rs 18,000/sec. This amount would have built 4,000 educational institutes in a year. The situation can be measured as; India spends Rs 200 to transport a chapatti to Siachen which is made for Rs 2.

The Dispute -Operation Meghdoot

India and Pakistan both claim dominion over the entire glacier region. In 1984, India launched Operation Meghdoot, a military operation in which Indian troops pre-empted Pakistan’s Operation Ababeel by just one day to occupy most of the dominating heights, tributaries and key passes on Saltoro Ridge, taking Siachen Glacier under the control of India.

This happened after Indian intelligence was informed that Pak army was buying specialist mountain clothing in London.

Pakistan controls the region west of Saltoro Ridge with Pakistani posts located 3,000 ft below 100 Indian posts on Saltoro Ridge.

What it’s like for the soldiers?

More soldiers have died from the unbareable weather conditions in the region than from combat. A total of 879 Indian Soldiers have lost their lives on the Siachen glacier, including 33 officers, due to harsh climatic conditions and other factors since Operation Meghdoot in 1984.

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The human body continuously deteriorates above 18,000 feet. Blurred speech, frostbite, chilblains are common around here. Soldiers also suffer from high-altitude pulmonary and cerebral edema, headaches and hypertension. Troops live in igloos clothed in high altitude gear and are supplied by helicopter(ALH Dhruv).

Pakistan has also faced the casualties of this inhospitable environment, losing 353 soldiers in various operations recorded between 2003 and 2010 near Siachen, including 140 Pakistani personnel killed in 2012 Gayari Sector avalanche.

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