SRINAGAR: Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated or laid the foundation stone of five projects valuing around rupees 3000 crores in Leh and insisted on the new railway line Delhi will get closer to the arid region. Modi is scheduled to fly to Jammu and Srinagar during the day-long visit to the Jammu and Kashmir state.
“Once Bilaspur-Manali-Leh rail line is completed, the distance from Delhi to Leh will be reduced,” Modi said in Leh. “It will also benefit the tourism sector. Protected Area Permit’s validity has been increased to 15 days, now tourists will be able to enjoy their journey to Leh.”
Prime Minister expressed his happiness over the LAHDC getting more powers. “I am happy that changes have been made to Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Act, and the council has been given more rights concerning the expenditures,” he said. “Now the Autonomous Council releases the money sent for the region’s development.” He said the people will no more require chasing their files in Jammu and Srinagar as the empowered Council will release the funds locally.
Dressed in the traditional Ladakh dress, in his second visit in the last 10 months, Modi started his speech with a few sentences in the local language. He thanked people for braving the intense cold to listen to him and termed the region “land of the braves”. He reiterated that he knows their issues as he has lived with them for a long time while working for the party.
“I have decided to banish the system of latkana and batkana the developmental projects,” Modi said in his speech, insisting he laid the foundation stone of the Rs 2000 crore transmission line and completed it for inaugurating it. “In last 30 years, nobody looked at the airport terminal. Now I laid the foundation stone and I will be coming to inaugurate it.
Invoking Kaushak Bakula who, according to him, dedicated his life to the better connectivity which was his dream, Modi said the linkage of Ladakh with rail and air will improve the situation of connectivity, progress, and opportunities. “The youth will study here and given the weather if we create better institutions, youth from across the country will come to study here,” Modi said. He earlier inaugurated a cluster university for the region. It will be a Cluster University comprising of degree colleges of Leh, Kargil, Nubra, Zanskar, Drass and Khaltsi. The university will have administrative offices at Leh and Kargil. He said forty per cent of the region’s population is students and the university will help them pursue their career goals.
Prime minister walked on the streets of Leh where he met various people. He actually came down from his car outside the airport and met the women who had come to greet him. The interactions, he said later, were re-energising.
During his first leg of engagement in Leh, Modi inaugurated a number of projects. He laid the foundation stone of the new terminal building of Kushok Bakula Rimpochee (KBR) Airport in Leh. The new terminal will be a modular, energy efficient and self-sustaining building of 18,985 sqm, according to an official handout. The project that would cost Rs 480 crore would get the airport a new terminal with 18 check-in-in points and three aero-bridges and can handle 800 passengers at a time. It is expected to be ready by September 2021.
He also inaugurated the 9-MW Dah-Hanu hydroelectric project. Located in Dah near village Datang, this project is a run-of-the-river scheme and is owned by the state government’s fully owned Power Development Corporation.
Modi will also dedicate the 220-KV Srinagar-Alusteng-Drass-Kargil-Leh transmission system to the nation. Its foundation stone was laid by him on August 12, 2014. Power Grid Corporation of India completed the project in four and a half years at a cost of Rs 2266 crore. It traverses a distance of 335 km and will have four sub-stations. The power line will be able to wheel the energy, either way, supply to Ladakh and even evacuate from Ladakh.
Referring to the tourism in the region, Modi said he has been told that three lakh tourists visited Leh and one lakh to Kargil in 2018. He announced new trekking tracks and an extension in the days that tourists can take on these trekking routes. “If we see it from an angle it suggests that half of the tourists who visited Kashmir this season, half actually came to this region,” Prime Minister said. “Soon, the tourism will reach a new level.”