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news details
Ladakh asks Centre to revive Rs 650 crore proposal to develop forward settlements
7/10/2020 12:17:54 AM

Early Times Report

Leh, July 9: Following the India-China standoff along the Line of Actual Control, a 2014 proposal for the development of border areas in Ladakh has returned to the spotlight.
The proposal entailed a Rs 650 crore grant from the Centre for development in Ladakh's border areas aimed at uplifting nomadic shepherds and halting immigration from the region.
Poor infrastructure coupled with ineffective cell phone reception being in areas close to the LAC due to security concerns has emerged as a twin jolt for the civilian population in these areas who feel completely cut off from the rest of the world.
The Union Territory of Ladakh has urged the Government of India to reconsider the proposal with the military standoff likely to stretch into the winter.
Continuous migration from border areas and other issues faced by nomads who depend on livestock for their livelihoods has prompted the Ladakh administration, now under the central rule, to implement the six-year-old development proposal.
Conceptualised in 2014, the mega-development plan was meant to uplift forward areas that were neglected for years resulting in mass migration from remote villages close to the LAC.
Better life for residents of forward areas
"The plan costing Rs 650 crores was made in 2014 but has been getting delayed. Earlier, when Ladakh was under Jammu and Kashmir government, it got stuck because the state government wanted a similar plan for nomads like Gujjar and Bakarwal community in Kashmir," Executive Councillor of the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, Konchok Stanzin said.
Stanzin added that the matter has been taken up with the Central government once again. He said, "It will ensure better roads, education, health facilities and revive livestock population that has decreased. This is aimed at people not leaving the border areas."
Day in the life of locals
With communication snapped and transport frequently unavailable in forward areas, young Phutith Dolma missed her job interview as she had no access to the Internet or a phone in her village near Pangong Lake, a flashpoint of recent military tensions.
"I was in my village but missed my interview because there was no access to the Internet or phone," Dolma said. After completing her engineering from Chandigarh, she returned to Leh and is now taking online classes to prepare for her entrance examination for a master's course.
My parents who live in our native village of Merak, close to Pangong Lake, are unable to keep in touch in these times, Phutith Dolma said. She adds, "My parents live in the village and cannot come. There are transport problems there."
Like Dolma, there are many others who have left their native homes in forward areas along the LAC to settle in Leh in pursuit of a better life.
For many like Tsering Paldan, education for his two daughters was a major concern that prompted her to move. Paldan's family home is in Chushul, about 15 km from the LAC. He remains cut off from his siblings since little movement is permitted in forward areas and phone connections are frequently down.
"With phones not working, I cannot talk to my family," Paldan says. A driver by profession, Paldan (48) is out of work since there are no tourists in Ladakh at the moment. His wife is away from home and employed as a labourer for the Border Roads Organisation (BRO).
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