Jammu, Dec. 29: Ladakhis received a losar (New Year) gift, with more powers to the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council.
The council will now enjoy more executive and financial freedom in running the affairs of the region, on the lines of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council.
The council will be vested with powers of general superintendence and control over its employees and executive councillors. However, the superintendent engineer and the district development commissioner of Leh shall be exceptions to the rule.
The chairman’s status would be the equivalent of a Cabinet minister, while his executive councillors will be given the status of deputy ministers.
The council will get more administrative powers: it will not have to obtain government approval for clearances up to Rs 5 crore. It will also have the power to allot, occupy and efficiently use land in Ladakh.
Kargil district, too, will get its own autonomous hill council by June 30 next year.
Announcing these decisions here this morning, chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed said this was a big step in meeting the regional aspirations of the people of Kashmir. “This is our commitment to deliver justice to the peoples of all the three regions of the state.”
Mufti’s ruling coalition enjoys the support of two Buddhist MLAs, belonging to the Ladakh Union Territory Front.
Council chairman Thupstan Cheewang said that it was a big day for him and described the state government’s decision as “historic”.
The Ladakh council has been asking for these powers for the past six years, but nothing moved, Cheewang said, adding now in a matter of less than two months, the empowerment has come.