Cover Story

MHA to appoint new MoS for dialogue with Ladakh delegation

Jammu: Lieutenant Governor of Ladakh Radha Krishna Mathur today met Union Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi and is reported to have taken up with him a host of issues of the Union Territory which have been voiced by the people of both Leh and Kargil districts.

The Apex Body of Leh, a conglomerate of various, political, social, religious and student organizations, has been demanding Legislature for the Union Territory while the Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA), which is also a combination of multiple bodies, has sought Statehood with Legislature for Ladakh.

“Issues of development were discussed with Shah,” a tweet by Office of LG Ladakh said.

Mathur’s meeting with Shah assumed significance as former Union Minister of State for Home GK Reddy, who was heading the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) team for talks with delegations of Ladakh, was recently elevated as Cabinet Minister. Shah will have to appoint another Minister of State for Home now for dialogue with two bodies of the UT.

Significantly, Mathur later also called on Reddy, who is now Union Minister for Tourism and Culture.

While there was no official statement from the Union Territory of Ladakh administration or the Ministry of Home Affairs as to what transpired at the meeting Mathur had with Shah, an earlier tweet by BJP Lok Sabha Member from Ladakh Jamyang Tsering Namgayal thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for approving four new airports and 37 helipads for Ladakh.

According to sources, 37 helipads have already been approved for the Union Territory while four new Airports appeared to have been sanctioned taking into view the civilians as well as military needs in Ladakh as there have been reports that China has built a new airbase near Eastern Ladakh for fighter aircrafts.

“New airports might come up at Leh, Kargil, Changthang and Zanskar,” sources said, adding they will be developed keeping in view the needs of civilians as well as military.

Airport at Changthang can boost military supplies to Eastern Ladakh while the airport at Zanskar will cater to the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan.

However, there was no official statement from the Central Government on approval of four airports for Ladakh including the places where they will be constructed, their cost and timeline but, according to sources, the decision on new airports was more aimed at meeting military requirements in view of prolonged standoff with China in Eastern Ladakh and taking into account future needs of the Army.

As far as 37 helipads are concerned, sources said they are already being constructed in Ladakh for the purpose of promoting tourism in the Union Territory but they can be used anytime for the military purposes.

“Construction work on these helipads is on,” sources pointed out.

The helipads are coming up at Demjok, Anlay, Kharnak, Korzok, Chumur, Tangste, Chuchul, Shayok, Skympata, Dipling, Neryaks, Kanji Markha, Panamik, Waris, Largyab, Agyam, Diskit and Sumor, all in Leh district, Kurbathang, Batalik, Sapi, Barsoo, Cheycheysna, Shephard Nala (Parkachik), Rangdum, Tangole, Padum, Longnak, Zangla, Tongri, Drass, Minamarag, Chiktan Headquarters, Namkila and Hinaskote, all in Kargil district.

Sources said the Lieutenant Governor of Ladakh, who is in New Delhi for past three days, appeared to have taken up the issues raised by the Leh Apex Body and the Kargil Democratic Alliance and briefed Shah about latest situation in Ladakh.

However, a further progress on the issues of Ladakh is expected only after Home Minister Amit Shah nominates another MoS Home to head the body on Ladakh after the elevation of G Kishan Reddy as Cabinet Minister.

Reddy, it may be mentioned, had already held one round meeting each with Leh Apex Body as well as Kargil Democratic Alliance and was scheduled to call both the organizations together after some time. However, further talks will now take place only after Reddy’s successor is named to head the Committee for talks with the people of Ladakh.

Leh Apex Body has been demanding Sixth Schedule like statue for Ladakh besides the Legislature so that people can have their own elected representative to frame laws. The Kargil Democratic Alliance has called for Statehood to Ladakh which will automatically give it the Legislature. Both the bodies have raised some other demands also with the Union Home Ministry.

After meeting Shah, Mathur also called on Union Minister for Tourism and Culture G Kishan Reddy.

Tweets by the Office of LG Ladakh said apart from ongoing tourism projects, LG Mathur discussed setting up of a training institute for Skiing & Mountaineering in Ladakh and also deliberated upon the prospectus of border tourism.

“LG discussed the issues faced by Central Institute of Buddhist Studies regarding affiliation with a relevant board and requested urgent redressal. Setting up of a Sub-Cultural Centre in Ladakh was also discussed,” the tweet said.

Prior to his meetings with Shah and Reddy, the Lieutenant Governor of Ladakh had met Union Minister for Forest, Environment and Climate, Labour and Employment Bhupender Yadav, Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar, Indian Air Force (IAF) chief Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria and National Highway Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) MD KK Pathak and took up with them the issues faced by the Union Territory of Ladakh.

 

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