Opening of Kailash Mansarovar yatra route from Ladakh, royalty in hydro power projects and a multi-purpose tunnel through Khardongla were some of the demands put forth by Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council before Prime Minister Narendra Modi here today.
Council Chairman Rigzin Spalbar met Modi here and presented a memorandum listing out demands of the Ladakh region besides seeking a one-time grant of Rs 200 crore for development works in the region by the Council.
The Prime Minister, who is here to inaugurate the 45 MW Nimoo Bazgo Hydroelectric Project here and 44 MW Chutak Power station in Kargil, assured Spalbar that he would look into all the demands put forth by the Council. Demanding mega solar projects of 5000 mega watts and 2500 mega watts in the region, the Council also demanded a 12.5 per cent royalty in favour of the Council on the hydro projects.
The Council said these projects will acquire huge chunks of land from eastern Ladakh region where population is dependent on animal husbandry thus having a negative impact on the livelihood of the people. "...the project is also expected to affect the fragile ecosystem. In light of the above, LAHDC, Leh demands a royalty of 12.5 per cent to compensate the loss of grazing land and livelihood of the local population," the memorandum said.
On the opening of new Yatra route to Mansarovar from here, the Council said, "Demchok in Ladakh provides the easiest and the safest access to Kailash Mansarovar. From here pilgrims can approach the holy mountain and the sacred lake in two days. This would also give the much needed fillip to the local economy," the memorandum said.
Demanding opening of cross-border trade links with China, the Council said opening of Demchok for cross-border trade on the pattern of Nathu-la pass in Sikkim will not only boost the regional economy but would go a long way in fostering Sino-Indian relations.
To tackle problem of unemployment among educated women in the region, the Council said a battalion of Ladakhi women, who easily adapt to the harsh high altitude environs, can be created in the army and paramilitary forces. The Council also demanded necessary directions to Army and ITBP to ease the movements of nomads along the border and restrictions on development works.
"This is leading to strong resentment against the Army and ITBP by inhabitants of border areas as they are already fed up with the repeated incursion of PLA and unnecessary restrictions put up by our own army to use our own land," the memorandum said.
The Council also sought Modi's intervention in getting constructed an airport terminal building here on which Indian Air Force has raised an objection besides construction of a separate civilian airport here. It also sought construction of a multi-purpose tunnel through Khardongla Pass which would benefit the locals as well the army in cost savings on many fronts.
The water from the north side of Khardungla will help tackle severe water shortage of Leh for irrigation as well drinking purposes besides the tunnel can also be used for telecommunication and power grid lines.
The Council also said work could not start on construction of a 'dharmshala' in Dwarka, Delhi on the 1266 square meter land allotted to it in 2006 as the civic body demanded over Rs 24 crore for it which is beyond the means of the Council.
Demanding a high altitude sports institute, he said such an institute will not only benefit the local populace, but also will be of great benefit for Olympics, Asian games and other international event preparations. It demanded an all weather road from Korzok in Ladakh to Spiti in Himachal Pradesh.
The Council said a Central University on the lines of the one established in Jammu and Srinagar besides better telecommunication network is needed. It demanded extension of the transmission line to Nubra Valley which will hugely benefit the local populace as well the Army establishment there.
The Council also sought a National High Altitude Research Centre, arrangement of fresh vegetable in winter through the army and funds for drains blocked due to the 2010 flash floods. It sought a package of Rs 16.28 crore lakhs on account of the liability incurred for organising Kalachakara 2014, affiliation of SNM Hospital with government medical colleges in Jammu and Srinagar.
The Council also demanded inclusion of Bhoti language, spoken and written in the Himalayan region, in the eighth schedule of the Constitution. "The Bhoti script has been developed on the basis of the Devnagri script of 4th century and is rich in literature which spans from medicine, astrology, logic, history, philosophy, tantra, yoga, arts, drama, music etc. We have been repeatedly representing that Bothi should be included in the eight schedule of Constitution," the memorandum said. The Council also demanded creation of 409 posts of Bhoti teachers under a special package from the Centre.