Leh, Kargil Gear Up for PM Modi's Maiden Visit

Sumir Kaul/Leh
Leh, Kargil Gear Up for PM Modi's Maiden Visit

Prime Minister Narendra Modi embarks on his maiden visit to Leh and Kargil tomorrow during which he will be meeting Army and IAF personnel besides inaugurating two hydro-power projects and laying a foundation stone for the 349-km Leh-Srinagar transmission line.

Modi's visit to the two high-altitude Himalayan town--his second to Jammu and Kashmir after assuming office--is expected to touch on demands of locals in Leh and Kargil including employment generation and an assurance to take up with China and Pakistan respectively the issue of opening of Mansarovar road from Leh and re-opening of Kargil-Skardu road.

The Prime Minister will also address public meetings at Leh and Kargil.

Leh town is all decked up to welcome the Prime Minister with hoardings been erected at various places and BJP's Lotus flag seen prominently at various traffic intersections.

BJP bagged the Ladakh parliamentary constituency for the first time this year when its candidate Thupstan Chhewang won the seat by a slender margin of 36 votes.

The Prime Minister, who will be accompanied by Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, will be received at the airport here by state Governor N N Vohra and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah besides senior ministers.

Chief Executive Councilor of Ladakh Hill Development Council Rigzin Spalbar told PTI that the people of Ladakh had high expectations from the Prime Minister's visit.

"I hope the BJP lives upto its promise of granting Union Territory status to the region," he said.

Spalbar, who has been raising various issues about the difficulties faced by people of this region, said he would also flag the frequent incursion bids by Chinese and attempts to terrorise the local population living along the Line of Actual Control(LoAC).

The Prime Minister, after his arrival here, will be addressing the airmen and army men who have been guarding the border in harsh winters in high altitude areas including at the world's highest battlefield at Siachen glacier.

Temperatures in the Ladakh region dips to minus 30 to 40 degrees in peak winter.

The new Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag arrived here today to firm up arrangements for the VVIP visit. The jawans of ITBP have been pressed into service for securing all the venues.

BJP leaders Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Avinash Rai Khanna (Rajya Sabha MP who looks after Jammu and Kashmir) are already here and were seen working out last minute preparations for a public rally at the Polo Ground in Leh where Modi will dedicate to the nation 45 MW Nimoo Bazgo Hydroelectric Project.

After this the Prime Minister will fly to Kargil town where he will hold a public rally and dedicate to nation the 44 MW Chutak Power station and lay foundation stone for 349-km power transmission line linking Leh-Kargil-Srinagar.

This is the second visit of Modi to the state after becoming the Prime Minister and his visit to the Himalayan town is seen as a thanksgiving gesture to the people for voting the BJP candidate to victory.

BJP will be trying hard to win at least a couple of Assembly seats from Ladakh Parliamentary Constituency which sends four MLAs to the state assembly. The elections for the state assembly are due towards the end of this year.

People in Kargil are hoping that the Prime Minister will address some of their long pending demands like construction of the Zojjila Tunnel, Airport, opening of Kargil Skardu Road and establishing High Altitude Sports Authority of India Campus for Sports like Ice Hockey.

A National Adventure School and a Doordarshan kendra in Kargil and employment avenues for youths in Army and Para Military Forces are among other demands.

The two projects which have already started generation are expected to solve a lot of power woes of the border state but only after the transmission line from Leh to Srinagar is completed.

The Omar Abdullah Government has flagged power projects in the state as its top most priority.

The Nimoo Bazgo Hydroelectric Project is located on river Indus at village Alchi, about 70 km from here. The annual power generation from this project is pegged at 239.33 million units.

It was completed at a cost of Rs 985 crore and all the three units of this project were commissioned in June 2013.

The project makes available pollution free electricity at about Rs 7.76 per unit compared to present available diesel power at about Rs 20 to 25 per unit.

The second power project to be dedicated to nation is Chutak at Kargil which is a runoff river scheme of NHPC to harness the hydro potential of river Suru. The project was completed at a cost Rs 893.75 crore and the generation started in May 2012.

The transmission lines, for which the foundation stone will be laid by the Prime Minister, is passing mostly through very tough hilly and snowbound mountainous terrain.

The primary consideration for design and estimation of quantities for the transmission lines is the route alignment study conducted by Powergrid through NRSA (National Remote Sensing Agency) and SASE (Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment).

The lines are envisaged to be routed close to Highway that connects Srinagar with Leh. The lines will pass through high security, disturbed zones close to LOC with Pakistan. The transmission line route passes through heavy snow zone and high altitude areas near Gagangir, Ghumri, Zozi-La, Namika-La, Fatu-La etc.

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