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Hiccups in Ladakh Development

Despite its very sensitive location, Ladakh region, meaning the districts of Leh and Kargil, has received scant attention from either the Central or the State Government. There is loud claim by both Governments that they are alive to the sensitivity of the region as it borders with China and Pakistan, both hostile to us.  In Nubra valley in Leh district some of the villages are very close to the border line. When we compare the development of border area on our side with that of China and Pakistan, we shall have to admit that we are far behind. This does not augur well for our security and smooth administration of the area.
A number of villages in Nubra valley are still living a life of Stone Age. Electric power is the first requirement of modern life and these villages are denied this basic facility. We have abundant water and we are generating power also. Yet so many villages in Nubra valley remain un-electrified. The Modi Government made tall claims of electrifying all un-electrified villages in the country. We do not find any trace that would convince us that the Government is seriously concerned about providing this basic facility to the people in a far off border region. At present electricity is provided for just three hours in a day through diesel generating sets. For the rest of the time, the entire villages plunge into darkness. Even during winter months when the requirement of electricity is felt more because of extreme weather conditions the duration of power supply through DG sets is not enhanced by the Power Development Department. It is a shame that while China has brought not only electricity but also road connectivity close to the border with our country in Ladakh, we have not been able to provide this basic facility for last seventy long years of freedom. The situation in Kargil district is no better. The tall claims of holistic development of entire Ladakh have never been attempted for fulfillment. This gives the impression that there is hardly any real understanding of the circumstances of people in Ladakh. In Kargil district, Batalik and Drass became well known during the Kargil war of 1999. These two places are just 60 kms away from the Chutuk Power generating unit but these also get electricity from diesel generating units for three hours in a day. Chutuk Power House is generating about 44 MW but the consumption as of today is just 18 MW. This means that there is a surplus of 26 MW which would be sufficient to provide electric power to the entire region. This is not possible because there is no transmission line and there are no funds for providing infrastructure for the same.
The scheme for electrification of un-electrified villages and system strengthening in Kargil was forwarded to the Government of India under Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) for an amount of Rs 80.61 crore. Initially, the Government of India sanctioned the scheme for an amount of Rs 42.43 crore and the balance for an amount of Rs 38.18 crore was sanctioned under Prime Minister Development Package (PMDP). Tenders were floated not once but four times for the execution of project in Kargil but no company was willing to come forth. The same is true about the power position in Nubra valley. The question is if the tenders are not responded, does the Government mean not to go ahead with the work of electrification of villages.
In final analysis, it is rather unwise to leave the border area in a state of backwardness when our adversaries are very much alive to the development of their part of the border. If we do not care for the redress of grievances of our border dwelling population, we shall be acting against the Constitution which calls for special consideration for the border areas especially in Jammu and Kashmir. We cannot forget that border population in both districts of Leh and Kargil has made many sacrifices in defending the border of the country. They are nationalist to the hilt and have identified themselves with Indian civilization. The entire Ladakh region deserves to be given special attention by the Central Government.

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