People of the State in general and those in Ladakh region in particular are disappointed by the report of the Minister for Public Works that there are some serious obstructions in the way to initiating the Zojila tunnel project. When the project was announced by the Union Minister of Transport and Highways last year, there was unbounded jubilation all over the State that with the Zojila tunnel underway, life, communication, trade, commerce and border security in entire Ladakh would receive new impetus and the Ladakh plateau called the Roof of the Earth will no more remain isolated during six months of winter and that the privations suffered by the people will be mitigated forever.
How unfortunate that the hopes of millions of people are belied if we submit to the pessimistic note that has been struck by the announcement of delay in work on the vital project. We are unwilling to submit to pessimism in our missions of taking the State out of the morass of backwardness and deprivation and lead on the people to new vistas of opportunity, progress and development. Nothing is impossible for people of great courage and determination. Small technical snags here and there should not deter us in our lofty mission of taking the State out of physical or material or ideological alley. Zojila tunnel is a challenge to our engineering heroes. We do not accept the argument that our engineers and technicians are not capable of piercing the heart of Zojila mountain and making the tunnel that will connect vast Ladakh region with the wide world for all the twelve months of the year.
Ladakh region has attained extraordinary strategic importance because of anti-India designs of two hostile neighbours namely China and Pakistan. These two neighbours are land starved countries who want to grab more and more of land by leading incursions through the instrumentality of non-state-state actors. China has been making intermittent incursions across the LAC, painting stones and trees in red with communist red slogans and after confrontation by Indian troops they withdraw to their side of the LAC. In the same way, Pakistan has been coveting the heights of Saltaro ridge and Aksaichin Glacier to establish liaison with Chinese troops and blackmail India. This has immensely increased India’s security concerns. On the basis of this we say that construction of tunnel at Zojila and Gangbanger on Srinagar – Kargil- Leh region is of much strategic importance. Going a step further, we may say that the Ladakh region is really connected to entire India and abroad the day on which the tunnel will be completed and railways brought to Ladakh region.
Constitutionally speaking it is for the policy enforcing mechanism in the country to see that the population of a vast region called Ladakh which comprises two districts of Leh and Kargil is not deprived of connectivity for six long months in a year owing to the fact that the region is landlocked. They have the right to access and right to movement. How can it happen when they are not connected by road regularly round the year. Regular connectivity would bring the people of ethnic Mongoloid-Turks closer to the people of Aryan and Dravidian origin. If we want that various groups and communities in India should meet very often in order to create bridges of understanding, let charity begin at home. In final analysis there is no going back on the decision of tunneling Zojila and giving new life to a backward area.