Mudslide cuts India off from strategic valley bordering China

A massive landslide wiped out a major portion of a strategic Indian highway in eastern Arunachal Pradesh state on Thursday, cutting off access to a remote valley bordering China.

The highway connects Dibang Valley, the last district on India’s northeastern frontier, to the rest of the country.

“Disturbed to learn of the inconvenience being caused to commuters due to the extensive damage to the highway between Hunli and Anini,” Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Pema Khandu said. “Instructions have been issued to restore the connectivity at the earliest as this road connects Dibang Valley to the rest of the country.”

Photos and videos shared on social media by Khandu showed an entire stretch of the highway washed away, hollowing out the roadway as muddy water from the rains gushed below.

Restoring the highway will take at least three days, an advisory issued by the Dibang Valley administration said.

“The district administration has deployed workers and adequate machinery to repair the road on a war footing. It will take a couple of days to restore traffic movement,” a senior district official named Dhurbajyoti Borah said.

In another advisory, the administration asked local people to stay away from areas affected by landslides, avoid water bodies for activities like fishing, not travel at night and not cut earth during the monsoon season.

Arunachal Pradesh has long been a flashpoint between India and China, with which it shares a poorly demarcated border. Beijing claims the territory as a part of southern Tibet, while India maintains the northeastern state is its “integral and inalienable part”.

Last month, the US said it recognised Arunachal Pradesh as a part of India and strongly opposed any unilateral attempt to advance territorial claims.