you are right. After Photi la, the Koyul road goes North. If you go south after descending Photi la, then this will be on the road to your left goes straight to Demchok. Meets the road coming from Fukche and Koyul just outside Demchok.Picture is getting clear to me. It seems now after descending from Photi La there is a separate alignment going via Umling La byepassing Photi La-Koyul-Demchok route while the new alignment meets somewhere very close to Demchok on Koyul-Demchok route. This way one can easily complete a day trip from Hanle to Photi la to Umling La and back without actually going all the way to Demchok. IMHO there would not be any check post from Photi La to Umling La which explains few riders already been able to reach there.
Yes. progress is being made. But our side has better fortification and connectivity in Chumar sector. Also we have mechanised divisions in Changthang. Other than that they have benefits of relatively easier terrain and all weather connectivity in other sectors. I believe they also have connectivity to Lenak la North of pangong. Whereas we have road till Marsimik and after that it's a trail.There are many questions.
Only Army / BRO can answer.
Atleast Roads are being made whereas other side, roads are already made at every strategic point.