Siachen Glacier for tourists

Unbelievably, a big and a unique leap in promoting tourism, especially of the nature of adventure tourism , has been taken by the Government and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh did it symbolically by declaring world’s highest battled field Siachen Glacier open to tourists, of course, from the base camp up to Kumar Post. The newly created Ladakh Union Territory was going to be greatly benefitted. In it, can be seen a sort of interaction and mutual understanding in a better way between the valiant army and the people who could get a feel of the tough work done by the brave hearts and engineers in the inhospitable terrain. An innovative step , indeed to be taken not less than a closed window now opened for the people ,can be hailed as the tourists are now to get an on the spot feel of all this famous Glacier was about.
The Siachen Glacier is having the distinction of being the highest militarised zone in the world where the soldiers have snow and snow only to deal with in every sphere of activity and its other forms like frostbite , where frozen snow has to be boiled to drink water to keep one hydrated. High winds, whistling gales, below freezing temperatures -60 degrees celcius are just “ordinary things” over there for brave jawans of the Indian Army. Not only that, landslides and avalanches are routine affairs and amidst all these unimaginable challenges, our Army braves are guarding our land and ensuring and assuring our security. Shouldn’t such a wonderful place be visited?
It is an admitted fact that Ladakh, a serene, calm and composed place but rich in natural beauty especially of mountains , lakes and valleys has tremendous potential of adventure tourism which needs to be explored and introduced to the outside world for commercial gains and purposes. What is needed is erecting a suitable infrastructure, especially better connectivity to make it possible that an enviable footfall of tourists took place. Expecting a marked change in the overall development of Ladakh following abrogation of Article 370 and 35 A, the Defence Minister hoped that Ladakh would only “draw friends” and “leave no scope for enemies”. Hopefully, the entire nation wishes for and believes in that to be a reality.
It was an important occasion to say all this since Col.ChewangRinchen bridge over Shyokriver was inaugurated and thrown open for traffic. Contrary to most of the State projects never coming up complete in fixed timeline, this massive project was all completed in record time of just fifteen working months after its foundation was laid in 2017 . All weather connectivity has almost all these years, despite lot of development having taken place , remained a problem in the area but this bridge , an engineering feat, will address not only that problem but will eventually prove a strategic asset in the border areas as it is located about 45 kilometres from the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China. In Eastern Ladakh, needless to add, India shares un-demarcated LAC with China. Col. ChewangRinchanbridge is the country’s highest altitude and all weather permanent bridge.
Naming the bridge after Col. Chewang who was popularly called as “Lion of Ladakh” a decorated officer of our Army who hailed from Ladakh, reiterates the resolve of the Government to do everything possible for remembering our brave hearts as also exalting and eulogizing them which ultimately boosts their already high morale and lends unique reverential credibility to their soldiery and for their unhesitatingly even offering supreme sacrifice , when occasion demanded , for the country. This bridge built by Border Roads Organisation between Durbuk and Daulat Beg Oldie will give added advantage of reducing the time of the travel by about half and connects Leh with the Karakoram Pass . It will ensure troop movement with ease to the Daulat Beg Oldie. The Engineers, workers and all those associated with the building of this magnificent valuable nationalasset deserve all praises , perhaps that is why, the Defence Minister while inaugurating this bridge said that not only steel and concrete had gone into its making but “sweat and valour” of the engineers and workers of the BRO and rightly people must know “their stories” . Could many other agencies engaged in building up of such infrastructure learn from the BRO what – speed, accuracy, quality, and having regard for adhering to timeline meant in real terms?
It is worth noting that the Indian Army had moved a proposal for opening up the world famous Glacier to tourists to showcase the unbelievably challenging conditions of troops in this sector which they are valiantly braving. The Government readily agreed to the proposition hence declaring it open for tourists. The Siachen Glacier came under the strategic control of India in 1984 following “Operation Megdoot”. Megdoot , a messenger poem written by Kalidas was chosen as the code name for the Indian Armed Forces operation to capture the Siachen Glacier precipitating Siachen conflict. The first assault launched in the highest battlefield of the world in April 1984 by valiant Indian forces resulted in our gaining the control of the entire Siachen Glacier.
Reiterating the consistent policy of this country in having never been offensive or invaded any country, Rajnath Singh said, “We have never done the first thing.” However, it has now as a concerted policy matter, been reiterated that if attempts of infiltration were not stopped from the other side to destabilise, weaken and disturb the integrity of India, befitting reply would be and is given to the perpetrators and by even striking them hard. Even a hitherto reluctant China in its recent statement to all nations to combat terrorism in concerted ways can only be effectively welcome. Pakistan needs to know that clearly and unambiguously.