After Maharaja’s period, a village in Zanskar Range gets required focus

Mohinder Verma

A view of unsafe wooden bridge over frozen Zanskar river and IAF chopper carrying material for construction of steel bridge at Neerak.
A view of unsafe wooden bridge over frozen Zanskar river and IAF chopper carrying material for construction of steel bridge at Neerak.

JAMMU, Dec 3: It took more than 80 years to the inhabitants of a village situated at a height of 13500 feet from the sea level to get their voice for foremost necessity heard. Their prime requirement was last felt sympathetically by the then ruler of Namgyal dynasty of Ladakh and since then they remained completely out of the focus of successive regimes.
This ‘unfortunate’ village called Nerak falls on famous Chadar track in Zanskar Range of Leh district bordering Zanskar Sub-Division of Kargil district. This is the last destination in the line of Lingshed, Dipling, Youlchung and Skumpata villages in Zanskar Range.
What to talk of road connectivity with rest of the district, Nerak’s only link with rest of the villages in this range is through a wooden footbridge, which, according to the people of the area, was dedicated by the ruler of Namgyal dynasty in 1930s. Thereafter, the successive regimes in the State didn’t pay any attention towards this village and with the passage of time the condition of the wooden bridge continued to deteriorate.
A glimpse of this footbridge over mighty Zanskar River with no safety measures can send shivers in anyone’s body. During winter when Zanskar River completely freezes, this bridge is less dangerous as compared to summer when gushing water can scare anybody.
According to inhabitants of Nerak, this bridge has thrown unaccounted number of cattle heads and human beings into the jaws of deaths due to lack of safety measures. Though people made number of requests to the civil administration of Leh during all these years for providing safe bridge yet failed to get any attention from the concerned authorities.
The plight of the inhabitants of Nerak village can be gauged from the fact that they have to trek the mountains for one and half day to reach Leh town during summer and during winter they make use of frozen Zanskar River for their journey to the district headquarters.
Now, after more than 80 years, smiles are back on the faces of inhabitants of Nerak village as Leh district administration and Indian Air Force have come to their rescue.
According to the sources, in the recent past the District Development Commissioner of Leh, Simrandeep Singh decided to help the people when the plight of the Nerak villagers was brought to his notice. As it was impossible to take 12 tonnes of steel and iron to the village for fabrication of steel bridge, he took up the issue with the Indian Air Force, which wasted no time in expressing desire to help the administration in providing safe bridge to the people residing at a height of 13500 feet.
The famous Siachen Pioneers Units, the most decorated unit of Indian Air Force, and the newly inducted Advanced Light Helicopter Squadron of Indian Air Force, got 12 tonnes of steel and iron airlifted to Nerak village in around 30 sorties of ALH and Chetah within a span of two weeks. The material for construction of permanent bridge was procured by district administration at a cost of Rs 26 lakh.
Sources said that abetments of the bridge have already been constructed and engineers having specialization in fabrication of steel bridge have also been airlifted to Nerak and assembling would begin within a day or two.
When contacted, Deputy Commissioner, Leh, Simrandeep Singh said, “administration could not have thought of providing safe bridge to Nerak villagers had the sentinels of Indian Air Force not agreed to extend help in airlifting the material”.
He said that the planning for the bridge began last year and the material was procured from Steel Authority of India during this summer and it reached Leh by October ending. “Thereafter, IAF was approached to provide air sorties out of winter tonnage quota of Leh district to airlift the components of the bridge”, he added.
He lauded the cooperation of AOC J&K, Air Vice-Marshal Upkarjeet Singh, AOC Leh, Air Commodore Manikantan and the Commanding Officer of Siachen Pioneers and ALH Squadron of IAF.

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