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Ladakh’s wishlist: 2nd Kailash route, hydel fees, solar projects…

Leh, Aug 12 (PTI): The Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council got its moment in the sun when Prime Minister Narendra Modi came here to inaugurate a couple of hydroelectric power projects.

Council Chairman Rigzin Spalbar presented Modi a memorandum listing out demands of the Ladakh region besides seeking a one-time grant of Rs 200 crore for development works.

Among the Ladakhis demands: open an alternative starting point at Demchok in Ladakh for the Kailash Mansarovar pilgrimage into Tibet, pay the council royalty from hydroelectric power projects and help it build a multi-purpose tunnel through Khardongla to carry water and electricity.

The Prime Minister, here to inaugurate the 45mw Nimoo Bazgo hydroelectric project in Leh and 44mw 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 5000mw and 2500mw in the region, the Council also sought a 12.5 per cent royalty from the hydel projects.

The Council said these projects would acquire huge chunks of land from eastern Ladakh region, where the population is dependent on animal husbandry. This would have a negative impact on the livelihood of the people.

”...the project is also expected to affect the fragile ecosystem…. 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.

The Council said opening of Demchok for cross-border trade on the pattern of Nathu-la pass in Sikkim would 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, could be created in the army and paramilitary forces.

The Council also demanded necessary directions to Army and Indo-Tibetan Border Police 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 Khardongla will help tackle severe water shortage of Leh for irrigation as well drinking purposes. The tunnel can also be used for telecommunication and power lines.

The Council also said it has been unable to start work on building a rest house in Dwarka, Delhi, on land allotted to it in 2006 as the civic body has 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.

It demanded extension of the transmission line to Nubra Valley which will hugely benefit the local populace as well the Army establishment there.