Blacktopping work on DS-DBO road
Blacktopping work on DS-DBO road

Darbuk–Shyok-DBO Road (DS-DBO Road/DSDBO Road), also called the Sub-Sector North road, is a strategic all-weather road in eastern Ladakh in India, close to the Line of Actual Control with China. It connects Ladakh's capital city Leh, via the villages of Darbuk and Shyok at southern Shyok Valley, with the Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO) post near the northern border. The 220-km long section between Shyok and DBO was constructed between 2000 and 2019 by India's Border Roads Organisation (BRO). Darbuk–Shyok–DBO Road had reduced the travel time between Leh(Capital of Indian Union territory of Ladak) to Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO) from 2 days to 6 hours.

Hardships faced in construction: This road experiences extreme cold climate and heavy snowfall on the features astride it during winters. Due to global warming, the climate in the region is undergoing a change wherein there is late snowfall and also rise in temperatures during the summers to as high as (+) 38oC. DBO is at the base of Karakoram Pass with China and the temperature drops to (-) 55oC. The working period is very short ie from May to Nov only. The region is High Altitude and totally devoid of any habitation.

Criticality of road: In view of the substantial infrastructure development and defence preparedness being undertaken by our neighbouring nation, construction of this road assumed operational priority. The road runs parallel to LAC for a very long stretch and it’s the only link to DBO, which is located at the base of Karakoram Pass.

What changes does the road bring to our forces on ground: Our forces get maintained by land route. The travel time reduces erstwhile seven days to only one day. Casualty evacuation can take place in hours of darkness as also during days of bad weather. In case of any untoward incident with our neighbour, the reserve troops can inducted very quickly.

Permanent bridge at km 150 
on DS-DBO road
Permanent bridge at km 150 on DS-DBO road

How was DBO Maint earlier: Earlier-only partial operational track / mule track. During summers, winters stocking is carried out.

Difficulties in Maint road: The road alignment from Km 23.12 to Km 150.4 is impacted by the presence of numerous glaciers and glaciated lakes on the Greater Eastern Karakoram Range which runs from NW to SE direction and divides the Shyok and Nubra Valleys with watershed heights ranging beyond 24,300 feet. A major portion of water from melting / breaking of glaciers atop these features drains into the Shyok Valley leading to triggering of avalanches and landslides. This gives rise to formation of Paleos and Glaciated Lake Outburst Floods (GLOF). The debris deposition in the river leads to formation of islands and change in direction of flow of water which further leads to breaches in the road surface due to scouring. In Aug 2010, a number of stretches on this road between Km 50 to Km 105 got inundated / breached due to cloudburst.

Cost of the project: The total cost of the project is Rs 1220 Cr approximately.

Alternate access to DBO: Alternate access to DBO as of now is under development. It is through Sasoma which lies on the road form Leh to Siachen Base Camp. Thereafter it follows the alignment to Saser Brangsa and further to DBO via Gapsam.

Unique aspects of road: The road has numerous rivers and nallahs. 37 bridges had to be launched to establish connectivity. One of the bridges has a span of 1400 feet. It was constructed in a record time of 14 months which included construction of nine intermediate piers employing Micro-Piling technique.

Eqpt used for road & Br building: A variety of equipment has been utilised which include dozers, excavators, loaders, motor graders, sol compacters, road rollers, vibratory rollers, pulveriser, spreader, hot mix plants, crushers, tippers, dumpers and many more.

Miscellaneous: The road alignment is along treacherous terrain. D-S-DBO road in the initial stretch from Km 0.00 to 23.12 is aligned along the Tangtse river, from 23.12 to Km 150.4 is aligned through the Shyok Valley and beyond Km 150.4 is aligned astride the Murgo and Burtse nallahs. The rock/soil stratum along the alignment of this road is soil mixed with boulders, fractured rocks and hard rock at a few locations. A number of stretches have paleos formed due to downwash of glacial deposits. Some stretches of the road have waterfalls. The river also keeps changing its course as well as width. Constructing a road at that altitude and such harsh terrain has been technically, mentally and physically challenging.

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