Neglected for yrs together, tourism potential areas of Ladakh to get improved road network

BRO to construct, upgrade 266 kilometer length at Rs 4970 cr
*Overall economy of region to get big boost in next few yrs

Mohinder Verma

LEH, Sept 20: Neglected for years together by the successive Governments, several tourism potential areas of Ladakh will get improved road network in next few years as the Union Territory administration has roped in Border Roads Organization (BRO) for construction and up-gradation of 266 kilometers length at a cost of Rs 4970 crore.
Moreover, with this significant step overall economy of the region will get big boost as following completion of these works the influx of tourists will increase considerably and ultimately generate employment avenues for the locals.
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that there are numerous roads in remote and far off areas of Ladakh which never received due attention of the successive Governments despite the fact that there are several tourists spots in such areas and have the potential to increase tourists footfall provided better connectivity is ensured.
Recently, Lieutenant Governor of Ladakh Union Territory R K Mathur had detailed discussion with the administration in this regard and accordingly it was decided to approach Border Roads Organization (BRO) keeping in view its expertise in construction of roads and tunnels in the hilly areas and lack of skilled manpower and proper machinery with the civil administration.
“Since BRO takes up only those projects which are of strategic importance and crucial for smooth movement of Army, a special arrangement was required to be made so that BRO assists the civil administration”, they further said. Accordingly, a Memorandum of Understanding was recently signed between the UT administration and BRO.
As per the Memorandum of Understanding, the BRO will construct and upgrade 266 kilometers of road length at a cost of Rs 4970 crore and hopefully work will be completed within next few years keeping in view the urgency conveyed by the Ladakh UT administration.
For connectivity between Sham Valley and Nubra Valley, the BRO has been asked to construct 26.50 kilometers Hanuthang-Handanbroke-Zingap-Turtuk Road (excluding tunnel) to National Highway double lane specifications. “This is very important project and will provide an alternate to Khardungla top to reach Nubra without coming to Leh. Moreover, this will reduce distance from Khaltsi to Turtuk by around 200 kilometers”, sources said, adding this project will be completed at an estimated cost of Rs 200 crore.
Similarly, the BRO has been asked to work on providing connectivity on Kargil-Batalik-Khaltsi stretch, which is very important road and alternate to the main National Highway connecting Leh and Kargil. It comes along the Indus River from the Batalik sector connecting the Aryan villages.
“The road is extremely important for tourism point of view and improving local economy as such the UT administration has decided to fund its widening”, sources said.
A tunnel across Hamboting La Pass (2.20 kilometer) will be constructed on Khalste-Kargil road at a cost of Rs 900 crore while as an amount of Rs 460 crore will be spent on widening of 78 kilometer long Batalik-Khalste road to NH double lane specifications. Likewise, Rs 290 crore will be spent on up-gradation of 50 kilometer long Kargil-Dumgil road to NHDL specifications.
They further disclosed that an amount of Rs 2500 crore will be spent on proposed new alignment of tunnel at Key La while as Rs 430 crore will be spent on up-gradation of Khalsar-Agham-Shyok to double lane. Likewise, Rs 190 crore will be utilized for up-gradation of Tangtse-Lukung road to double lane.
“The tunnel on the newly constructed road at Key La will reduce distance and make it easier for tourists as well as locals to visit Pangong area from Leh side”, sources said, adding “the UT administration will also provide funding to the construction of tunnels at Khardungla, Namkila and Fotu La and a green-field road for inter-valley connectivity for which agencies are being identified”.
The BRO, as per the sources, has agreed to execute the projects on fast track mode. “With the completion of these projects, the overall economy of the region will get a boost, especially in the tourism industry. Furthermore, these projects will reduce the distance and increase the influx of tourists in the Ladakh region”, they added.